Today I read a post by Shell over at Things I Can't Say about how, even though she and her husband will have been married for 10 years this week, they weren't always the happiest and they almost didn't make it. Once they realized that love is a decision, it requires work, and it's not something you can just give up on as if it were a craft that isn't working out, their marriage became much stronger.
Her post got me thinking about my own marriage. It's something I always want to write about but just haven't put the words on paper.
I have people tell me all the time that I am so lucky to be married to my soul mate. They often ask how it is that our marriage could be so perfect. They wonder if we ever have downs and are ever unhappy. That they are envious of our picture perfect family. And that we make marriage look easy.
What I WANT to say to those people: "Stop comparing my marriage to yours and everyone else's! "Stop making MY marriage the marriage you want for yourself!" "STOP with the marriage wars!" Your husband buys you flowers, my husband has twice (he'll say 3x) in the 12 years we've been together. That does not make him a bad husband. My husband leaves me sticky notes just to say he loves me, your husband does not. That doesn't make my husband better than your husband. It means he knows me and knows what I want.
I am pouring my heart out so here's the honest to God truth: YES I am unhappy in my marriage sometimes. My husband has really stinky toots and they piss me off. He's also a cheapskate and sometimes I like to buy new shoes. NO my family is not picture perfect. I am overweight. My husband has horrible hair issues. My 2yo is an AWFUL 2yo. And my 5yo talks back like he's a teenager. Our marriage is extremely hard and sometimes it really just SUCKS!
But yes ... I AM married to my soul mate ... but that doesn't mean we don't have our downs. There was a time during our year-and-a-half engagement that I clearly remember taking my ring off, telling him to take me back home, and almost calling the whole thing off. It was over something so stupid too. I was just too immature and selfish to realize it at the time.
There was also a time (early on) in our marriage that I questioned whether it was all worth it. Did I really want to have to deal with picking up somebody's socks every.day? Did I really want to have to tell somebody where I was going every.day?
The answer is, "hell yes I do ... as long as it was Cale."
My marriage is definitely not perfect. We don't get to have as many dates as most couples do. But that doesn't mean we don't make the best out of our alone time that we do have. We do cook nice meals for just the two of us once the kids go to bed. We do still snuggle on the couch for movie night. We do still take the time to glance at each other and wink or smile. And when we DO get to get out for a date, we never take those minutes together for granted. We literally enjoy every second we have together - even if that means I send him a picture of my cleavage while I'm going pee in the restaurant bathroom. (Hey … it works … don’t judge!)
When you're with someone at such a young age, you both have to grow up together. When Cale met me, I still had a LOT of growing up to do. Thank God for this man, seriously! He has stuck by me at my lowest, my ugliest, my fattest, my poorest, my meanest, and my stupidest. And while he is definitely not perfect and has "his moments" as well, he is my best friend. He makes me laugh until I pee, smile like I've never smiled before, learn things I never knew, and open up about things I want to keep bottled up.
When I first started dating Cale, I kept everything bottled up. So when he would try to talk to me about certain things, I'd shut down. And that is why we almost didn't get married.
Once I learned to start communicating, stop taking things out of context, and stop keeping score ... our relationship changed on a whole new level.
Sometimes our relationship can feel like it's one pothole after another and there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.
Ben Affleck thanked his wife, Jennifer Garner, at the Oscars a couple weeks ago adding, "he knows that being married to him was hard and thanks for sticking with him."
I wish more people would admit that marriage and relationships ARE hard. Anytime you spend that much time with ANYone, there's bound to be fights and arguments and disagreements and you have to work through that. It isn’t so much about changing their heart as it is about changing yours.
Cale had to make the decision to better himself. And I did too. One person could not do all the work. Once we both made the decision to take those hard moments and act in a way that showed us both that we are willing to grow, we finally cleared some potholes that I never would had thought we'd get through and we become tougher and stronger than we have had before.
I know we've only been married for (almost) 7 years and that's only a drip in the bucket of what our lifetime of marriage will probably go through. Although I will say, we have been through some storms that weren't made to be weathered. Our marriage is a union of two imperfect people in an imperfect world ... and I'm good with that. I am completely head-over-heels in love with my husband. But not in the sense that I had before we were married of the "dreamy-eyed view" of what marriage was. He makes my heart skip a beat and has the ability to make me melt by wearing a certain shirt. But it didn't happen over night. It took work and it’s taking work. But it’s easier than it use to be.
I could not imagine my life without my husband. He’s taught me to believe in myself when I have doubt, reach for the stars that seem too far to reach, dream big, stay strong, and go after my passions with everything that I have. He has taught me a lot of who I am and what I want out of life. He has given me a life that is rich in love and full of joy. He is my rock, my best friend, my partner in crime, comrade in arms, my recipe taste tester, my cheerleader, my handyman, my prayer partner, my private comedian, my masseuse, and my children’s daddy. And he wouldn’t be any of this if I hadn’t grown up, communicated, and made the decision to keep loving him. Our vows weren’t a joke. Falling out of love is not an option for us. Everyday is hard. But everyday is also a day that I get to wake up and love him … with all of my heart.
I just linked up with Shell and Poured My Heart Out. You should do. There's only one rule: No judging!