I’ve been wanting to start writing some thoughts on marriage. Tyler and I aren’t marriage veterans by any stretch of the imagination, but we certainly aspire to have a healthy relationship and I believe that we do. It’s important to note that a huge part of that is because of our given personality types. We have extremely compatible temperaments and make a really natural partnership. The other part of that is effort. Yep, the cliche EFFORT.
If you know much about my history, you know that I have been married more than once… or twice… While that may insinuate that I am quite possibly the least qualified person to give relationship advice, I would have to disagree. Before I get started with the present, the past is conspicuously relevant to any and all advice I will ever have. I cringe when people ask how many times I’ve been married (at only thirty years old). I flush with embarrassment at the thought of the public opinion. Those are my instant reactions. Then, I remind myself of what those experiences taught me, how they contributed to my growth, and how they paved the way to the marriage I have now.
Being married in the legal sense and being married in a spiritual sense are quite different. The times I was married, but later failed, were because I was seeking a legal solidarity with someone to subconsciously appease an insecurity. On the outside, this might have looked a lot like recklessness, immaturity, codependency, and maybe even opportunism. (Pro tip- ignore the public opinion). What’s much more important is what it taught me about myself. It taught me that I wanted a companion. I wanted someone to be committed to me. I wanted a constant. I wanted unconditional love. I wanted an idea, and I was willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve it. Getting legally married seemed like the next step in those relationships, so I went through the motions to paint the photo I wanted. However, those “unions” couldn’t have been any further from the true definition of marriage. The list of reasons why is infinite, but it all starts with staying in a place that I innately knew wasn’t for me. The beginning of the end was always the moment when I realized the person I was with was not compatible with what would bring me long term happiness and fulfillment.
Rational next step: end the relationship.
My next step: keep forcing the square peg into the circle hole.
Ultimate result: delayed, exhausted, demise of the relationship.
Why am I telling you this?
Because, I think there is a big difference in making a marriage work that is divinely orchestrated, and making a marriage work that never was such. I feel that it’s an important preface to any conversation about effort in a marriage. Making sure you are the right match for who you marry is far more critical than any amount of work it takes later on. (If I could go back and talk to my teenage self…)
Lets assume that you have found the right partner for you, like I finally have. You are in love and happy and strong as a team and then life happens. By life, I mean anything from financial setbacks, extended family problems, job woes, to KIDS.
Having small children can be a real romance killer. In my house, at least, it feels like every day is a never ending cycle of applesauce pouches, goldfish, Nick Jr., diaper changes, homework, arguing about bedtime, fidget spinners, whining, and lost pacifiers. By the time my husband gets home, I usually look pretty sexy in leggings and a tee that are covered in unidentifiable crust. My hair is so matted that if I took my ponytail out it would likely stay in position. My legs haven’t been shaved in a week and my eyes are glazed over from the day’s battles. I am past being touched out/talked out. All I want to do is hit something or pass out or both.
This is simply life for us right now and for the foreseeable next few years. Our distractions and challenges will inevitably evolve as our children grow, but I am convinced that having multiple small children is one of the hardest periods in a couple’s relationship.
I find myself stressing about what to do for my marriage at this crux of our lives. Should we get, like, proactive counseling? Should I exhaust myself to take drastic measures to prove how much I love him and haven’t forgotten him? Maybe I should start a Pinterest board on how to keep your marriage alive…
Then, it hit me.
Sometimes, there isn’t a handbook. Sometimes, it’s not about the pins about how to maintain a marriage. Sure, don’t forget to say “I love you”. Don’t dismiss a problem, and definitely keep lines of communication wide open. But, sometimes, it’s just about waiting out the tough seasons.
Maybe it doesn’t need to be overly talked about. Maybe grand gestures aren’t the answer. Maybe your partner knows you love them without breaking your neck to prove it. Maybe, just maybe, we only need to hold hands and wait out the storm.