Working at it
‘In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.’ Robert Anderson
Who doesn’t have issues with their spouse? Show me that person, and I dare say that person has already checked out of their marriage. Because if you care enough to be completely vested and you care enough to try to make a partnership, you ARE going to have issues. Why? Because you are two different people, working together to make a new unit … the only way you could get along 100% of the time would be if you are two of the same, and what fun would it be if you were married to a carbon copy of yourself? Instead, you are two, and with two, quirks abound, tempers can fly, patience can be strained. Marriage is about trying – Every. Single. Day – to love your spouse IN SPITE of these things. It’s not going to be wedding-day-bliss every single day. And really, would you want it to be? After 14+ years of marriage, I think hubby and I are in better places and our relationship has certainly changed along the way, but in a good way. Bed of roses it ain’t, but I know that at the end of the day, I like what we have. No, I love what we have. And the kids see that.
We fight. Oh, boy do we fight (of course, I say ‘fight’ and he says ‘have discussions’….). More often, though, we manage to get through any difference with conversations and (mostly mutual) understanding. And a lot of sarcasm and humor. I have to laugh because one of the important parts of a marriage is the physical part, and once you have more than one kid, it becomes such a testament to how much effort it takes to keep this part going. But, as with most things that are challenging, the pay-off is worth it. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?
I am so not saying we have the perfect relationship. There are times when I just want to explode I am so irritated about one thing or another. But this has been going on since Day 1. We’ve learned that if we don’t talk about the little irritants, they will turn into HUGE boulders, the proverbial elephant in the room. And no one wants to clean up after that, right? So, bring it up when it’s still a little molehill. I don’t always do this right away, sometimes I like to stew a bit about things first. And you know what? That never once has made me feel better about the situation. Not once. Stewing is not a successful nor effective communication tool. I am working on this, but this is my way. I have learned though, that I do need to get it off my chest eventually.
Parenting is hard. Capital H hard. What does your relationship with your spouse have to do with parenting? Everything. You’re not only creating a partnership that you can enjoy (hopefully) and rely on for help when it comes to parenting matters. You are also creating a support network with someone who has as much invested as you do in the ultimate success of your parenting efforts (e.g. a happy, healthy, self-confident and capable little person or two). And, perhaps just as important as the other two, you are giving your kids a good example of how a marriage/relationship should/could work.
How many of you come from a home with divorced parents? Being a part of that statistic is either going to show you how easily a relationship can fracture and make you wonder why one should even bother making the effort (which is a rather pessimistic way to look at things), or it will teach you that it is ever-so-important to do everything you can not to end up in the same situation. Some people dear to us are going through a very difficult time right now, due mainly to not being able to communicate when issues were smaller and seemingly more manageable. Now, their problems are enormous, and likely insurmountable. And now kids are involved. Divorce is not always the answer; sometimes, though, it IS the right one. But you know what? That’s another thing you can’t figure out without the big C: communication. It really is the backbone of any good marriage. It doesn’t matter how many sparks fly in the beginning or how compatible you seem to be; if you can’t talk about the BIG things, it doesn’t matter. Learning to be a good communicator – actively listening and capably voicing your own opinion is a skill. One that your kids will learn as they watch you. So make your relationship a priority – no matter how tired or busy or stressed you are. Do it for you, for your spouse and for your kids.