It’s flipping hard. We say “I do” idealistically, in our white dress and tuxedos, smiling, sleeping with each other nightly, saying sweet things on a day-to-day basis, and then, BAM, we get a few years in and suddenly it gets real. Anyone who’s read anything about marriage, talked to anyone married for a legitimate amount of time or is just realistic in general, knows that when you choose to marry someone (no matter who it is) you also choose a journey that’s not always going to be fun, not always going to be easy and not always going to be full of love. If you think marriage is any fairy tale you’ve seen on Disney movies or television, I’m sorry, and it’s not for you.
With that being said, I’ve been with my husband for five years. I love him deeply, but I willingly admit I don’t always like him. And he doesn’t always like me, either. I’m not always attracted to him, and again, ditto on his part. To really put it in perspective, think about any other relationships that you’re in for life: parents, friends, children, etc. There are phases where you fight constantly. There are days where you wish you’d never met them. There are times you think it will never be good again. And let me be the first to tell you, that is NORMAL. If you doubt the person you’re married to because you’re not in love 100% of the time, stop. It’s OK. It happens. No matter what relationship you’re in, you will never feel the same each and every day for the rest of your life, and it’s absolutely insane to think you should. If you really want to make any relationship work, the trick is to step back, reevaluate and figure out the best way to keep moving forward that makes both you and your partner happy. In other words, compromise, constant change and choosing every single day.
Marriage is a choice. In my opinion, when you choose to marry someone, you choose to make them a relationship for life. There’s a reason our vows say “in sickness and in health,” through the good, the bad and the ugly. Because, I guarantee there will be a lot of bad and ugly, too. In my marriage, the majority of the person my husband has seen (aside from the person he fell in love with) is pregnant-me, post-pregnant-me, and stressed-out/trying-to-find-myself-again-me. And for any of you reading this with children, you know exactly what I’m talking about. He’s put up with a lot of bad and ugly, and for that, I’m truly sorry but also truly grateful. The good thing is I know the worst has slapped us in the face from the beginning, and we’ve survived. This means there can be a lot of good ahead. And because I want to focus on the good and move past the bad and the ugly, it’s important to acknowledge and call out the worst trait in our marriage, for both of us: Pride.
I don’t like to be proven wrong. In fact, I often go out of my way to make sure that I’m not proven wrong, and when someone questions me, I find every possible angle to keep my pride intact. It’s a curse. I’m intelligent, I’m just, I’m fair, I’m honest, but I will do anything I can to be right. And so will my husband. If couples were to get to the root of divorce, see past the finances or the arguing or the dishonesty, I think they would realize their biggest fault is never taking on the fault. I know, without a doubt in my mind, that’s ours. And it takes a jackhammer to the foundation of our marriage more than either of us would ever like to admit.
I love my husband more than any person on this earth. He is the person I met outside a building years ago and had no intent of talking to more than one night. He is one of the most intelligent people I know. He is one of the most stubborn people I know. He is oddly confident. He plays video games way too much. He shows emotion a little bit more even though it makes him so uncomfortable. He is the father of my children, and he is the best father I’ve ever seen. I, without a doubt, through the bad and the ugly, will always love him. However, loving someone doesn’t always end well. The thing is–that most of us don’t realize until it’s too late–it can end well. It can end, continue, move forward and be however we choose.
That’s why I’ve decided to call out the traits about me that I’m striving to work on. And if every married couple in the world were honest with themselves, I think many could relate, could take fault and could make a choice.
- I’m stubborn. I don’t like to admit when I’m wrong and neither does my husband. That means, in every single argument we have, he leaves believing he’s right and so do I. Do you see how that can ruin a relationship? Neither of us can say, “That’s a valid point. Maybe I should look into that.” Instead, when we’re met with a challenge, both of us shut off. It’s our worst trait, and it damages us a little more each time we have a disagreement. I’m tired of that. I want to say “I’m sorry” and “You’re right” more. And not, necessarily, because I want to, but because, I know there are times where if I were on the other side of the argument, I’d say the same thing. Because I can see where others are coming from. Because being right all the time isn’t more important than making the person I love most happy. And it doesn’t matter how much it hurts my pride, because, in the end, pride doesn’t love me, it doesn’t take care of my kids, it doesn’t make me laugh, it doesn’t make delicious dinners, it doesn’t text me throughout the day, and I don’t care whether I lose it or not.
- I’m lazy. OK, I’m really not that lazy. I work every day from 8:30-5:30 and then some. I take care of two children. I cook meals, I clean the house, I do the dishes, I do laundry, I make plans, I maintain a blog, a freelance career and an image. I’m a wife, I’m a daughter, and I’m an individual. Nothing about my life is lazy, even if I wanted it to be. And my husband can say the same. However, there are little things I could do here and there to make my husband’s life easier (and ditto for him). I could get up out of bed when all I want is a few minutes to myself and hang up some clothes, instead. I could anticipate simple scenarios day-to-day that would make things easier for me, even though they’re things I wish he’d do. Because, the truth is, I’d do them anyway if he wasn’t around, and I’m more than capable. I refuse to become dependent on my husband, and although it’s a blessing to have him around, it puts too much weight on him to expect every little unnecessary thing out of him. I need to acknowledge all that he does do and stop focusing on the negative.
- I’ve let go of me. Physically, mentally, personality-wise, I’m so flipping exhausted. It’s easier to not work out. It’s easier to not further myself. It’s easier to not joke around and make a conscious effort to be happy. The thing is, in the end, taking the easy route never gets you anywhere good. Real things take real effort. Marriage takes work. Maintaining self takes effort. If I wear sweats every day, phone-in my personality, or never attempt to live for me, I lose the person I love. And that results in losing the person every one else knows and loves, including my husband. That’s not fair to anyone. In the long run, a little bit of extra effort goes a long, long way. It’s so worth it, and the minute we stop putting in that effort, we start to slip.
- I worry more about me than him. I stand by the ideal that the reason many people struggle so much in relationships is because they stop being the person each other met. When I met Matt, I would go out of my way to do things I know would make him happy and so would he. Five years in, not so much. I’m quicker to get mad about him not doing the things he knows would make me happy than I am about doing the things that make his life a little better. In order to keep a strong foundation, I think it’s important I acknowledge that and make a conscious effort to do the things I expect out of him. After all, those are the people we both fell in love with.
The truth is that no relationship lasts without effort. If marriage was all unicorns and rainbows and love and sex, everyone would stay married, no one would lie, no one would cheat, no one would leave, no one would struggle. But it’s not. It’s also work and ugly and struggle. It’s doubts, it’s late nights, it’s going the extra mile. It’s emotional. It’s love conquers all. It’s flipping hard. THAT IS NORMAL. And I knew that. My husband knew that. But you never really know what that means until you experience it.
If I want to make any relationship in my life last, it’s important I take a good long look at myself. It’s important I put in the effort. I need to admit when I’m wrong, I need to try, I need to be open and honest, and I need to care about both myself and the other person in my relationship. Step one is admitting your fault in a situation. The key to a strong (note I didn’t say happy, because no marriage is always happy) marriage is making a choice. Every. Single. Day. The key is admitting your faults and facing the facing the things that are hardest for you to face in life.
What advice do you have to add about marriage? What’s been your biggest struggle or help? Share in the comments.