Monday, January 26, 2009

The truth is that sustaining a marriage is hard work

Wherever I turn these days, I run into another friend who is experiencing a rough patch in their marriage. Friction at best... talk of separation and hitting the skids...at worst. And sometimes that isn't the worst case. Some couples are just not meant to stay together. And some couples still love each other, but wonder what the hell happened to their partner. Is this the same person I fell in love with?! Who IS this person in my bed?

There comes a time when a couple has been married to each other for a while. A time full of life on the run with young children. And, kisses so fast in the morning you later wonder if your faces actually touched. Conversations started and stopped by the little engines that could, and can, interrupt you at every turn. Until, you stop trying. And you're depleted at the end of your days, so you each take to your corner of the world within the walls of the place you call home. Sometimes connecting in the dark, sometimes not.

Marriage is challenging. Adding children to a marriage is more than doubling the work. It is as if you are suddenly each speaking in another language, your commonality of words a foreign tongue that you are both just learning. Each feels alone with their logged tally of unseen, unheard wounds inflicted by the other. Or so it seems...

Yes, marriage can be like that. If you are lucky, and your partner believes in the long haul and no "easy outs," then you can grasp hold of that and ride in together on that perilous wave. Because, like all good things that last, there are dips and rocky shallows that one must wade through to get to the sandy beach. And the sand feels so....good, but then of course...it gets too hot.

The truth is that sustaining a marriage is hard work. And both partners have to be willing to come together and do the work. No one wants to admit that they've been contributing to the dirty laundry. But, you have to. You have to be a grown-up and be honest. With yourself most of all. And if you can do that, then you're more than half-way there...


****Painting titled: Gratefully Coerced by Charles Gumpert.
I am in love with this man's paintings!!


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26 comments:

phd in yogurtry said...

"Adding children to a marriage is more than doubling the work."


I'd like to see this blazing neon on bill boards all across high schools and work places across America.

You are so right. Sometimes marriage feels easy-breezy, lovey-dovey-all-the-time. So comfy and warm and content. Other times it's an alligator infested bayou and your canoe has a big hole in it. And so does your bail out bucket.

phd in yogurtry said...

Nice painting choice, by the way.Just noticed the painting title. Gratefully Coerced. Uh huh. Have felt that before.

blognut said...

Excellent post. It IS work, but it's good work if you can get it.

Dan said...

It is work, but the ones that survive the initial years tend to hang tough *if* both partners are willing to work on it. It's that willingness to work that seems to disappear for some couples.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Will Smith talks about this. The first thing you have to do for a successful marriage is take divorce off the table--then the only thing left to do is make it work.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

So true! It is very very hard but the rewards are so worth it :)

Kalynne Pudner said...

All I have to say is, put Jenn's comment in neon and on the billboards. "Divorce is NOT AN OPTION" is what we would tell couples in marriage prep when we worked that gig in the 90s. If you think it is, you have no business getting married. Because there will be times (not "might," not "unless you're lucky" -- "WILL") when gritting your teeth and repeating that mantra is all that gets you through.

But once through...ahh! Did someone ever say "marital bliss"?

Suzanne said...

I can't speak from experience, but as with anything worth hanging onto, you're right, it takes time. I think the idea of 'taking divorce off the table' sounds like a great place to start.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Here's my secret to a happy marriage: When my husband annoys me, I call my wife.

XOXO

flutter said...

this post rocks and that painting is incredible

Ginaagain said...

This post rings with truth. It is hard and sometimes the hardest thing is admitting when we aren't working hard enough.

Jason, as himself said...

You said a mouthful!

g said...

True, true, true.

And don't forget that while the coming of kids brings a change to a marriage, so too does the going away of kids. Another transition. Don't be surprised at how your relationship changes when the nest empties.

The work really does never stop.

Midwest Mom said...

Thanks, JCK. Your words today are the ones I needed to hear. We've been stuck in the "lightning fast" mode with 3 at home, and it's time we had a date.

Whenever my husband and I are too involved in the work of his job and my writing and the kids activities, we take a 'time out' just for us. It doesn't have to be long, but it does have to force us to connect again.

Every so often, I need a reminder. Today, it came from you.

Gotta go. I have a phone call to make.

- Julia at Midwest Moms

Kate said...

Yes, indeed. Marriage is hard.
I agree with g's comment about major transitions in life (having children and then, when they leave home...)creating more stress on the relationship. One would think that with kids out of the house (finally) that things would automatically improve. Not. It's like re-learning all over again how to be just two in the nest. Married 31 plus years, I finally understand, it will always be a challenge to stay together. But we keep working at it...

Jen said...

What a great post! Two of my closest friends are slipping further and further away from each other in their marriage, and I worry he may be having an affair.

It IS so hard to have conversations when children are around. As women, we put so much of ourselves into our children, that we sometimes forget the importance of working on our marriage. There are days that I look at Jim, (sitting right across from me), and say, "I MISS YOU", and he knows exactly what I mean.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Amen, sister.

Janet said...

Excellent post. We avoided some problems, partly because we got married so late after dating 6 years, and because we had the kids right away, so we really never knew what marriage without kids was like. Of course, I have a failed marriage behind me, which while painful was also educational.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

so very true. and I agree with Jen, divorce has to be off the table and then you just keep plugging away at it, riding the good times and reliving them in your mind to sustain you through the bad.

Cat said...

Divorce was mentioned once in our marriage about eight years ago. When we recovered from that episode, I took it off the table. I said it could never be an option, so it could never be mentioned again.

painted maypole said...

truer words never spoken (or blogged...)

Angeline said...

so true girl, so true....
I have 4 friends who just got a divorce for all sorts of reasons and I'm more or less 'counseling' them for the past few weeks... this post came at the right time... I would say....

The Mom Bomb, a/k/a Folksy Mama said...

So true! And sometimes it's not even a dramatic "rough patch" that gets to you -- just the exhausting, boring day to day grind. But work it through!

pasadenapio said...

A friend with whom I had lunch today said that the secret to his happy marriage is separate bathrooms.

g said...

I'm commenting again because I love all the other comments. Everyone is so wise! Everyone brings such great experience to the table.

MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

A-men to that sister. BTW, I saw Revolutionary Road last weekend which certainly hits on this post - you were right, it was some powerful stuff indeed.

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