The last ten years have been pretty dang good to us.
Let’s keep this party going, shall we? It’s a fun one.
Photo by Let Me See You Sparkle Photography
This has been sitting in my drafts for FOUR YEARS. I rediscovered it a while back and decided it was time to update, finish, and publish.
I recently read an article about selfish love. And it got me thinking.
People talk about how something like half of all marriages in the US end in divorce. I have known a lot of people who are divorced, or whose parents divorced, or were impacted somehow by a divorce. Being a member of a faith that places a HUGE priority on marriage and family—not just in mortality, either, but for eternity—has sheltered me from a lot of it, though. I guess that’s why it has been so shocking over the last year or so to hear about family after family that is falling apart. Divorce is not just something that happens to other people’s parents anymore; it’s affecting people my age who I know + love.
I am heartbroken over these broken homes.
Our marriage isn’t perfect. Is there even such a thing as a perfect marriage? I mean, I try hard to be a good person, which I hope translates well into being a good wife. And David? Quite simply, he’s my favorite.
But let’s be honest. At the end of the day, he is just a man. And I am just a woman. We’re people, and we struggle, and much as we love each other, we don’t always like each other or our children or our circumstances. Life is hard, y’all, even when you’ve got everything you ever wanted.
Our anniversary is tomorrow. Ten years we’ve been at this now. Ten years still doesn’t seem like very many to me. But with so many not even making it that long, I have to wonder what makes our marriage different. Why, with all that we’ve been through—infertility, unemployment, the whole shebang—are we still together?
My needs + priorities + interests + preferences + parenting style are not the same as David’s. We have lots in common, sure, but plenty of differences too. And neither of us has a monopoly on what is right or best. Instead of expecting him to do things the way I do them, I try to step back so he can do things his way. He tries to do the same for me. We give one another space to be who we are, without unrealistic expectations or demands.
One of my favorite things about our marriage is how often we remind each other that we make a good team. When we work together, we get so much done! Our kids know that when he says something, asking me for a second opinion will only get them a, “I support whatever Daddy said,” and vice versa. On occasion I’ll disagree with his decision, but I wait to talk about it until after the moment has passed (and ideally the kids are elsewhere) so we can strategize for next time. They can’t play us off each other because we are in this together.
Which leads to…
Parents, children, friends, work, hobbies, finances…none of that comes before our marriage.
When priorities shift and thing start to feel off-kilter, we adjust. Adjusting usually means turning away from distractions and toward each other.
Life is hard. Kids are annoying. Work is stressful. Family dynamics get complicated. Money is tight. We are human and we make mistakes all the dang time. And when things aren’t good, we both tend to clam up and let it fester.
We’ve learned, though, that ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away. The only way to make things better is to acknowledge that something is wrong in the first place. Just admitting we have a problem goes a long way toward resolving it…and the sooner we do it, the easier that resolution becomes.
Finding silver linings can be a challenge. Gratitude changes everything, though, and even on the worst of days we can find something to be grateful for.
When I’m struggling, I can count on David to pick up the slack and make my life better. I can’t tell you how many weekend naps he has enabled me to take because I’m flat out exhausted. That small act of service does wonders for my state of mind. When he is overwhelmed at work, I do what I can to minimize stressors at home and keep him well fed. Good food helps everything, at least at our house.
Frequently I find that when I’m having a hard time, he is able to support me a little more than usual. It goes both ways, too; when he’s extra stressed, somehow I’m able to remain calm and pull things together with less effort than usual. It works out. As the old adage goes, “I lift thee and thee lift me, and we’ll ascend together.”
Perhaps we’re the only ones, but after ten years we still haven’t figured out how to read each other’s minds. So when something is bothering us, we sit down to discuss it and figure out how to correct the problem. Those conversations are almost always uncomfortable, but they also almost always lead to positive change.
It’s not enough to just talk at each other, though. We’ve both gotten much better about really hearing what the other person has to say, rather than waiting for the right moment to say our own piece. There’s a difference between listening to understand and listening for an opening. Plus honest communication makes us vulnerable. If I tell David something that reveals my own weakness, he could always exploit that weakness. I have to trust that when I open up, he will continue to respect + protect my heart. And I must do the same.
We avoid tearing each other down with the way we communicate. Rather, we focus on building each other up and strengthening our relationship.
All. The. Time. About stupid things. And when we can’t laugh about something…well, the only time that has happened was when I was deep in postpartum depression and needed professional help. David has unfailingly encouraged me to take care of my mental health. Now I laugh with him again.
If either of us ever loses our sense of humor again, we’ll know something’s seriously wrong. Until then, we’ll be over here quoting Heavyweights at each other ad infinitum.
Typing all of this makes it seem so easy. Some days it is. Other days it’s really really not, and we have to work hard to keep this thing afloat. It’s humbling. Sometimes it’s even humiliating. I hate being wrong, and I hate being bad at something.
But the more willing I am to be vulnerable with David, the more open + affectionate he is. The more effort we put in to drawing closer to each other, the easier it becomes.
At the end of the day, we’re in this together. And I feel pretty good about that.
Well I definitely took my July mantra to CHILL pretty seriously, including taking an unplanned month-long break from blogging.
I don’t feel bad about it. In fact, it was really good for me in some ways.
That said, I’m tired of not creating. I need to write, among other things. It helps keep me sane. And I still owe you a whole heap of details from our Europe trip way back in June.
That is one thing I’ve been spending time on lately. Most of my countless photos are edited and ready to share. Every time I flip through them I get giddy. Rather than spend like 45 posts on a recap, though, I’ve decided to create a travel page with a permanent link on my home page. It’ll be a one stop shop for all my travelogues, with links to details and tips and tons of photos for each place we went. Then I’ll share some deeper thoughts about certain aspects of our adventures in regular blog posts.
Does that even make sense? I hope it will be clearer as things come together.
Then there’s housekeeping stuff. Usual bills and maintenance and whatnot, but also some overdue hands-and-knees floor scrubbing and finally following through on major update plans. If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ve seen how we basically destroyed our house while redoing the floors in the girls’ bedroom. It’s been a longer process than I care to admit, but we’re finally almost done. I don’t expect to have their bedding finalized any time soon, but I will share a room reveal when everything but that is done. Yay for house progress!
I’ve also been reading a ton. No regrets there. I’ll have a book post coming soon, since I’ve there are several I would love to recommend.
Of course the bulk of my time these days has been spent being a wife and mom. It is…many things. Exhausting, always, but so so good. The kids are all at such fun ages. While he’s still not walking independently, Ryan is making huge strides in mobility and is the funniest little man you ever met. Mila went back to school a couple weeks ago, which has been great so far, and Margot will start preschool at the end of the month. She’s really looking forward to it. So am I.
We’re settling back into a routine and that has been good for my state of mind.
David and I have gone on a handful of fun dates in the last couple weeks, which has been great. I don’t know why I often forget how important it is for us to spend one-on-one time together. Fortunately, with kids back in school, we’re not letting them stay up as late as we did all summer, so we get more time to ourselves in the evenings. Plus Marriage Month is coming up soon, and that’s always a good way for us to examine and improve our relationship. We’ll be celebrating our 10th anniversary! Tin-finity, baby! Woo!
Summer seems like it will be endless and we’ve only had one decent monsoon (I busted out my camera to capture the kids LOSING THEIR MINDS OVER PUDDLES) but it will end. It always does. Autumn will come, later here than everywhere else perhaps, but it will come.
And maybe I’ll survive till then.
Yeah. I think we’ll be okay.