It's been awhile since I have written about marriage.
I'm pretty good at publishing my thoughts and feeling about things that relate to my parenting, my own personal and spiritual growth, my thoughts on kids and addiction, heck sometimes I even come up with a post that makes people laugh. However, my marriage is a topic I tend to be very careful around. Both in the real world, and in my little publishing world.
There are several good reasons for this...not the least of which is that I respect the fact Tom doesn't want the world to know his personal business.
However, my main objective on this website is to write about what's on my heart (even when it's challenging me), so this feels like an appropriate week to write about marriage.
We're all so naive when we get married, aren't we?
Some days I just want to go back there, you know? It's a time in life when we don't really acknowledge, or even discuss, the issues and difficulties which might cause us some friction. Hell, we may not even know the areas that will be causing us friction, right? As we date, get engaged, and even during our early married years, we put our best foot forward to make sure everything continues as it's supposed to.
And then something happens and we begin to show our true colors. For some of us that coincides with the arrival of children.
Kids, God love 'em (as do I), will definitely present with plenty of challenges for couples to have to fine tune their cooperation skills around. Most of the time while incredibly sleep deprived, which tends to be when our "real-ness" shines through. Topics like who'll do the midnight feeding and diaper changes, who will be the heavy and who will emotionally support everyone, how we're going to discipline and of course, how it all gets paid for...
So many big and little everyday life items can wear on a marriage.
This week I have to admit parenting seems to be a piece of cake for me compared to marriage.
Though, no matter how frustrating marriage can be at times, I have never wanted to give up on it. I could, however, identify with an article I recently read from a woman who claimed marriages don't just die over one isolated incident, rather they tend to wane over many, many small sometimes seemingly insignificant incidents over time.
There were a couple of things in that article that really stuck out at me...
Like how often we [married folk] tend to take each other for granted. For instance, I just assume Tom can fix anything that breaks, he will know how to solve all my technical device problems, will gather and organize the tons of receipts and information for our annual tax return, and will pay all the bills no matter how stessful...
He assumes I will cook, clean, do laundry and take the kids to wherever they need to go, I will make sure the homework gets done and put them to bed at night (much less work at this point than when they were little), I will wait up for the one who is out for the evening to arrive home. He assumes I'll make the calls regarding doctor visits/bills and necessary car maintenance, and that I have my finger on the emotional vibe of each of the kids.
We both assume the other has the easier, better end of the stick. And neither one of us says thank you often enough for what the other person does day in/day out as part of what makes our family thrive.
Another element the article mentioned that sticks out at me is that Tom and I have gotten lazy about complimenting one another. We neglect to say nice things like "thanks for dressing up for me tonight" or "even though we're getting older you are still hot to me" (instead I recently heard "I can't believe you still have hair on your head, did you see how much is on the bathroom floor?!")
With behavior like that going on, it's no wonder neither of us feels like buying Valentines this week.
And if we think our kids don't pick up on this...
Tom and I have had (and will have again) some great peaks in our relationship. We are terrific together at lots of things, like moving our family, making time for our kids, agreeing on the importance of sitting down together over dinner each night, and now I know we are also great at renovation projects (he's the technical & muscle, I'm the clean up, we're both the "idea" people). We like a lot of the same movies, we both enjoy hard work and exercise, we value honesty and believe in raising kids who will contribute positively to the world. Lots of times we laugh at the same things.
There are, however, a few areas where we are growing at different rates and in somewhat different directions. Which, at times, I find scary.
We just haven't grown together in a while, you know?
I am sure I tend to get nervous about our differences because my parents divorced and I am determined not to end up like they did. After thirty-nine years my mom and dad threw in the towel and while each appears to be happy in their course since that decision, in the back of my mind it continues to make me wonder how I can be sure my future doesn't include the same division.
Which, in my head, I know is a waste of time and energy because nothing, even a marriage we think is 100% solid, is ever a guarantee.
So, this Valentines Day I will focus on the good things....which get us through the tough times, right? Here's hoping your weekend is filled with chocolates and roses....CHEERS!