If I could go back in time and give my lovesick, desperate to leave home, twenty year-old self a reality check, it would be this: “And they lived Happily Ever After” is best kept for the movies and books.
Even then, I stuck my nose into romance novels that always had happy endings. Who wants to read a love story that doesn’t end well? Every romance I’ve ever read promises a future for the couple. It’s all bliss after you get over the obstacles that kept them from thinking they could be together.
Now the reality check.
Obstacles are like pot holes in the road to marriage.
You can’t avoid them.
I have been married for fourteen years now. I’ve met a lot of married couples of all ages. Some of them are very happy. Many of them are miserable. Yes, misery does love company in the worst sort of way.
If I asked couples who are still together what keeps them together, they’d tell me many different words of wisdom. Those little gems that have made marriages work when most don’t.
And the number one reason that most marriages don’t work is because people change.
Over time we are influenced by other people, places we live, and the circumstances we live in. We’re living breathing beings and so for the most part we adapt. Sometimes, however, those changes are not for the better. We become people we don’t know and our spouse doesn’t recognize anymore.
When we change, our dreams, hopes, and expectations can change, too.
It’s hard to face the mirror and look at ourselves and see people we don’t want to acknowledge. It’s so much easier to look at our significant others and point the finger.
The man I married fourteen years ago isn’t the man I’m married to today. Nor am I the woman he married back then, either. I have dreams and more so I came to our marriage with expectations.
Those expectations came from twenty-years of living with my parents. Watching my sisters get married and raise families of their own. Just being part of a family opens a window of role models to what a marriage should look like.
In the past fourteen years, I’ve had three children. I’ve stayed up nights with sick babies, changed diapers, stayed strong through my oldest child’s surgeries; learn what it is to have a child who requires a little more attention, and to live with someone whose personality doesn’t always get along well with others.
Marriage is like a full time job with no overtime pay.
I wish I could go back and tell myself that getting married doesn’t mean you’ll never be alone.
I would also remind the unmarried me that some days you’ll have to put on the pants in the family and step up where the person you’re depending on to do things can’t do them.
There will always be those outside the walls of your home who don’t understand the roles you take, the broken expectations that you carry, or the motives behind your actions. They look through rose-tinted windows and compare their misery to your illusion of marriage.
It’s deceiving and exhausting.
Most of the women I know are lonely. In fact, many of these women would trade a new car for a husband who comes home every night and is willing to mow the grass or fix the leaky faucet so they don’t have to deal with one more item on their to-do list.
To be loved and accepted is the one thing most of us all want. So why is it no one can give us that?
Why can’t a husband cancel a commitment and attend a family gathering or take his wife out on a date? Why can’t a wife leave the house without a child in tow?
Why can’t married people respect each other and nurture each other to help each other grow?
Ah, but that is the key that locks the door and keeps divorce at bay.
If I saw my younger self getting pulled down, exhausted, lonely, and feeling like she can’t hold a marriage together anymore, I’d tell her this: It takes two to make a marriage grow. (tweet this)
Nurture your marriage, not your illusion of what it should be.
All the things you’re trying to do outside your marriage are nothing more than weeds. Yank them out. Soon, you’ll see each other more. You’ll grow closer in your marriage. Then you can truly be one.
Don’t wish for a different life, or a different life partner. Don’t live your life regretting the decisions you made or the lack of pursuits you should have followed.
Marriage is more than a license to get a deduction on your taxes every year.
Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. Fourteen years. I spent it here, in front of my computer like any other ordinary day.
Yet it wasn’t an ordinary day. It’s a day to celebrate.
Most couples exchange gifts, go out to dinner, or at the very least receive a card or flowers.
There is a downside to being married. Sometimes our spouses screw up and hurt our feelings. Eventually, we forgive them. Holding grudges and hurt feelings inside will waste your energy and exhaust you emotionally.
Today, I’m preparing for the Realm Maker’s conference. I’ve treated myself to a new pair of boots. While I’m off putting together the last pieces of my costume for conference, tell me: What is one illusion you had going into marriage that nearly broke your relationship?