Y’all, Sunday was a special day. It marked the sixth anniversary of the day I said “I do!” to my husband (and he said it back). We had a “unique” start to our marriage. We both came into the marriage with a failed one under our belts, little 3-year-old Bella along for the ride, and I was pregnant with the unsuspecting man-sized baby Roman. The odds haven’t always been in our favor and there have been moments for both of us when we questioned what we’re doing. We don’t always get along. There are some fundamental differences we will always have. But I know I have a loyal partner and devoted dad. He is my best friend and my greatest supporter. Hopefully he feels the same way about me. I’ve learned a lot along the way. Most of the things I’ve learned would have made my marriage easier had I learned them sooner. So, if you’re contemplating marriage, even if you’ve done it before, read these lessons as a heads-up for what might be coming your way. For those veterans out there, let me know what I’ve missed.
Here are the four biggest things I’ve learned throughout my six years of marriage:
- Marriage is work. And one person can’t do it all. It takes both people fully committed to the marriage at all times. Even when you’re mad or sad or deflated or exhausted or sleeping or trying to sleep but you can’t cuz “someone” snores like a garbage disposal swallowing a metal spoon so you’re mad, sad, frustrated, and exhausted all at once and you start replaying that episode of Snapped where the woman got away with it, unless you fully expect to tell your kids “I left because I couldn’t take the snoring”, you still have to be committed… all the way to the sleep apnea doctor. I don’t think I really understood this and accepted it until well into our marriage. I was quick to say, “I think you should go.” Unfortunately I didn’t complete that sentence with “to the shooting range” or “buy yourself a TV”. He would have appreciated that more. Know your boundaries and communicate them. Part of being committed 100% is communication. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You don’t have to say it mean but sometimes that helps 😉 Knowing your boundaries allows you to know when to give in and when to dig in your spiked stiletto heels.
- Marriage with babies is exhausting. Know this going in. Now, there’s no way for you to fully comprehend the level of exhaustion that you’ll experience until you are already in it. But know that it’s exhaustion like you can’t fathom. And in that state of exhaustion you have to take care of a little human being who doesn’t give a shat how exhausted you are. Or how sick you are. Or how busy you are. Or what your deadlines are for work. So now we have exhaustion, a demanding little person who can’t communicated in any other way than with super-sonic boom cries at 2:00 am, 2:15 am, 3 am, 3:12 am, 3:30 am, 3:31 am, 3:33 am, 4 am, 5 am… ALARM CLOCK!!! Time to get ready for work! Are you ready? Who’s ready? Oh, and after you work a full day, pick your baby up from daycare, feed the baby, bathe the baby, feed the baby again, put the baby to bed for the 1 hour you’ll get before the next crying sesh, you need to make purposeful time to spend with your partner. Um… what? All I want to do is watch reality TV to make me feel better about myself, drink a glass of wine, and kill some dark chocolate before I fall asleep on the couch in the middle of chewing my food. The trick is to keep it fun. Find a show to binge watch together and have a standing date on the couch. And let him be your face’s pillow when you pass out.
- Marriage with toddlers is war. Every minute is a battle. If you aren’t fighting your little person with newly found independence, you’re probably fighting with your spouse over something to do with parenting. Or something to do with how your routine has unexpectedly changed. “Why has the same load of laundry been drying for 3 days?” Well, maybe it’s because I keep forgetting the clothes are there and I have to wash them over again. Six times. Believe me, it’s not optimal for either of us. Know that it’s ok to fight. It’s healthy. And (this one was very important for me to learn) every fight doesn’t mean the end of the relationship. In fact, it can mean the strength of your relationship increases.
- Marriage with kids is a rollercoaster. Your kids are finally old enough to communicate when they’re sick, sad, hungry, thirsty, heartbroken, mad at you. But when your kids crawl into your lap without warning and hug you and tell you how much they love you or when you take them somewhere fun and you hear them say, “THIS IS THE BEST. DAY. EVER!!!!” that’s your reward for passing stages one and two, grabbing the flagpole at the VERY TOP and saving the princess twice without losing any lives. This is the stage when you are probably more aligned strategically with your spouse. It’s probably more often a “parents vs. kids” situation where kids frequently say, “you’re mean! No one here even likes me!” If you hear this at least once a day, you’re probably doing this parenting thing perfectly and should consider writing a book. Also, date nights for us have happened more frequently at this stage than before because 1) it’s much easier to leave them when they’re yelling at you because you said ‘no’ to 3 brownies and 2) they’re vocal enough that you can trust them to tell you anything you may need to know, i.e. a bad babysitter. Marriage, parenting, life can all be scary. And that’s ok.
So I still don’t have it all figured out. Life is uncharted waters. But it’s nice to know I have a sailing partner. Hopefully we’ll still be just as committed to each other and our marriage in 50 years as we are right now. That’s right, I have him til he’s 91. What’s your best marriage advice?