Monday, March 5, 2012


I don't know whether it was the dog or the kids or the family visits or job stuff or the fleas or hormones or the realization that we've been together 10 years -- probably all of the above -- but the husband and I went through a rough patch recently. That sounds so stupid, but how else to describe it? We weren't contemplating divorce, but we weren't really working together.

This is the detail that sums it up: Kissing me wasn't the first -- or even the second or third -- thing he did when he came home. And I was no better. Some nights, that welcome home kiss didn't even happen.


Eventually, I yelled. There were long talks. There were slamming doors. There were fights. There were huffs and sarcastic comments. And finally, there were real conversations.

You guys don't need to know details and honestly, I don't want to share them. My point here is the ground-breaking thought that marriage is hard. My mom says, and I agree, that marriage is harder than parenthood, that it's the hardest thing. Parenting my kids isn't easy, but it's natural. I want to take care of them. Even when I don't want to put them first, I do. I love the husband and most days, I like him a lot, however, some days, I don't want to do what's best for US. I want to do what's best for ME. Making sure our lives change together, that we don't take each other for granted, and that we make our life together a priority takes effort. It's effort I'm willing to put in and often pleasant and worthwhile, but it's effort nonetheless.

(And, as the husband adds, the marriage part wouldn't be as hard without the parenthood part.)

I don't know. Maybe you'll read this and think the husband and I don't love each other enough if we're having to work at our marriage. Maybe for you being married is as natural as parenthood is for me. But for us, marriage means putting in a little work, for lack of a better term. It means paying attention to what's not working and speaking up if you're not happy. It means saying thank you for simple chores and encouraging each other to do things alone. It means finding something to do together. It means shouting sometimes and being meaner than necessary -- but then apologizing when you realize you've been a shit.

I sometimes wonder what the boys are learning about relationships from our marriage. I'm a yeller, if you haven't picked that up, and they certainly have heard us fight. But they also see us make up. It's a family rule: If we fight in front of the kids, we apologize in front of them, too.

The husband and I, as I mentioned, are better. Kissing me is again high on the priority list when he comes in the door each night, though often the dog or the kids are waylaying him before he gets to it. And when that happens, he kisses me over their heads.

The boys giggle.

"That's funny, Mo-om," The Lad says.

"What's funny?"

"Daddyman kiss you. That's funny." Both the boys giggle. "Do it again."

We'll all be fine, I think.


Sarah Lena said...

Gah. Marriage is just so hard. Because I put myself last, but that's no better; it just breeds fierce and violent resentment.

I'm glad y'all are better. And I've found that hitting a rough patch sucks, but man, the getting past it? IS TOTALLY AWESOME.

(Especially with the kissing.)

Erica said...

Yes. Marriage is hard. It can take a back seat while parenting requires constant vigilance. We all have to find ways to pull through.

The Luedtke Family said...

So fully understand this post! Feel much of the same way. Except, I find myself speaking up for myself more and more. I feel like I am yelling, and don't want to stop making myself heard. Otherwise it won't change.

Elsha said...

Marriage is definitely work. Some days more work than others. But I try to remind myself that I'm a better parent when I'm making sure our marriage is a priority.

Two Braids said...

I love this. So honest. So true. I feel the same ways from time to time. We are in an up now but not so long ago in a down. Marriage is HARD WORK and being parents makes it harder. But so worth it. So rewarding to have someone believe in you, care for you, love you even when you just yelled at them. We don't get enough of this right now but date night and weekend trips away are the glue to holding it all together.

Erin said...

You took the words right out of my mouth. A strong marriage is so good for kids, and so hard for parents.

For as many times as my parents fought in front of me, they never apologized in front of me. It took a long, long time for me to realize that small fights between lovers don't automatically end relationships. I feared divorce a lot as a kid (for good reason).

We've had very similar conversations at my house, too. Usually, the distance in the relationship comes from me. I hate to admit that, but it's true.

Gerbicks said...

i hear ya.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Love this! I think it's important to blog about this stuff, though all the dirty laundry need not be aired, because it's just so damned true.

And, for the record, I think anyone who says you shouldn't have to work on your marriage is delusional, stupid, clueless, or headed for divorce!

Jessica said...

Busyness is the hardest thing for us. My husband's marathon training is driving me insane (I'm sure you know the feeling). The marathon is six weeks away and at this point our entire lives are structured around his training runs and we barely see each other. So hard!

k said...

I often think that T and I were better spouses to one another before we had kids. It got so complicated and tiring and sad and happy and just all of it afterwards. And while I knew that children would change our marriage and who we are, really, I didn't quite realize it to this extent.

I probably sound ridiculous most of the time I say it, but I'm always telling younger people, "Keeping yourself happily married is harder than I ever knew it would be." It is and it's worth it.

Erica said...

I'm not a yeller, but I am a champion SILENT FUMER which isn't better. Anyway, it's definitely work.