Marriage is hard.
We say this so no one asks us more questions.
And struggle in silence.
This has been the year I didn’t think we would make it. This year was crushing. There were too many things. Too much piled on. Too much pain. Too much revealed. Too much. We were 20 years in, and it was all just too much.
He slept on a couch for a week this year. Not even our couch. Just a couch. Because we couldn’t figure it out. And sleeping on couches sometimes seems like an answer.
There are moments in marriage, maybe not yours, but mine…Where you are looking at your chubby self in the mirror with your gray hair and your regular old job and wondering how you ended up here. There are moments in marriage…at least in my marriage…where you could literally kill someone for snoring…or dishes undone…or not telling you you’re a badass 98 times a day for all the shit you make look easy. There are moments in this house when you realize one of us has a glass overflowing, and the other doesn’t have a glass on the table. And instead of handing your person a glass, you give them the finger because fuck them for not getting over their own shit. Maybe this is just me.
“Are we going to make it?” And we mostly answered, “I don’t know.”
You imagine yourself single. You imagine yourself dating. You imagine moving home. You imagine trying to make it all work without them. And you can’t. And you feel lonely in a house full of people. And maybe a little trapped in your life too. And you wonder how you ended up here. And you wonder if anyone else ever feels this way.
We sleep with a 6-year-old and two dogs. Sex has been handed over to sleep. We vowed we would never be this couple.
I read a story a decade or more ago. A doctor realized he never spent time with his kids or wife. All he did was work. The kids were in middle school and he barely knew them. So, he made a decision. Pulled everyone out of school. Bought everyone bikes. And they biked across the country. The doctor, his wife, his kids. They did this for a solid year. Because they were important to him. And important people require drastic measures. Because they are worth it.
We planned a vacation. Our first kid free vacation since before kids. It was our worst year. And we just decided to follow through. Which seemed crazy. Because marriage is so fucking hard. And the fights had gotten too loud. And the kids had started asking if we were getting divorced. And we both started to really wonder if we were getting divorced. Even the dogs seemed to wonder. And we were left with just getting by…just walking…just breathing…and none of it felt like what we signed up for…
And this trip, it was meant to save a ship that had gotten really normal…really usual…like other old worn out ships…the ships we swore we would never be…
And I can tell you the moment we got on a plane to Mexico. The air shifted. The moment we landed, it felt lighter. Pulling up to our hotel. The all-inclusive-awesomeness-paid-for-through-the-Costco-layaway-plan. Champagne. The ocean air. Music playing. Sun burned people smiling everywhere with drinks in their hands and hope in their eyes. And here we were…I could almost feel the old us.
We spent four days in paradise. Eating and drinking and talking and laughing and napping and staying up till 3am and meeting folks and walking around barefoot and holding hands a lot…talking…talking about us…talking about how good we were together…talking about our kids and how much we loved our life…laughing till we cried…and crying because of all the hard moments we had lived through…Together…It was still there. It was still right there.
Marriage is hard means sometimes you call your husband a dick. Marriage is hard means sometimes you know everyone’s favorite sandwich, shampoo, pair of socks, toothpaste, the way they like their toast or coffee or water…but you don’t know your own anymore. Marriage is hard means there are weeks where all you will do is drive in circles from 3pm till 9pm and wake up and go to work and see each other in the driveway or the hallway and hold hands in the bedroom as you fall asleep to Netflix. Marriage is hard means you can barely believe this is your life, and you just keep choosing it and trying to get to a good place when you can. Marriage is hard. It’s really really really hard. And finances and kids and backgrounds and jobs and life make it even harder…And it’s ok to say all of this because everyone, I’m pretty sure, is living this too.
The hope and the prayer is not to live this all the time…Right? Because marriage is hard, really, if I were super honest, just means, we have lost all connection to each other. Everything else has gotten in the way. Everything and everyone else has taken priority. And I am hurt and you are hurt. And it feels like you don’t care. And I am so sad about all the things that no one else knows except for me and you. The things that happen and only your person knows and feels it as tremendously as you. And the moments when life kicked you in the teeth and your person was there…but they were kicked too…and you’re broken by life and 20 years pass.
But here is the deal. Y’all. Reconnect. I wish we had done this 20 years ago. I wish we had done this FOR 20 years. I wish we had planned a million tiny reconnections on our front porch swing or our hammock or our patio or anyplace really…I wish we had seen reconnection staring us in the face in all the moments we chose TV over each other…sleep over each other…hurry over each other…and busy over this person we chose to spend our life with…Reconnect. It actually doesn’t take Mexico to get there.
Reconnecting means pushing pause. Reconnecting means time. Reconnecting means saying I’m sorry a lot. And putting down phones. And maybe taking up a hobby together. Or going to the grocery store together. Or drinking coffee together each morning. Or having tequila together at 9pm on the worst days of your life. Or going to a concert together. Even if it’s a band concert for your kids and you sit together and kiss and hold hands in a high school auditorium. Reconnect. If I was totally honest, under all the heartache, I just missed us. The real us. The us I knew was somewhere in both of us.
To be seen and loved and known. To see. To love. To know. See our pain. Love us through it. Know our most secret heartaches. And do the dishes here and there. And try to stop snoring. And I’ll try to stop leaving my shoes everywhere. And I’ll try to leave the dishes till tomorrow if it means a moment with you.
We went to Mexico. To begin again. We went with half a shred of hope and a million good memories which took place a million lifetimes ago. We went and found out we loved each other. We even liked each other. We were still the life of each other’s party. We were still a damn good time and sloppy drunks and not too old to stay up all night. We found out that we still like to kiss like they do in the movies. And it all can pretty much fall part, but not us. We matter too much.
Marriage is hard y’all.
But today, I am believing for you. I’m believing for me too. I’m believing for all of us on our knees and digging in our heels and looking at wedding photos and wondering where those two kids have gone…I’m believing for all of us deciding to put our foot down and ask for help. I’m believing for all of us who can’t believe anymore. And, just so you know, we argued this morning over what time to pick up a bed for our 6 year old…we also made up…and life went on and on and on…and we kissed a little too.