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.
"Daddyman kiss you. That's funny." Both the boys giggle. "Do it again."
We'll all be fine, I think.