Something has shifted recently. Everywhere I look marriages are rocky, hanging on by a thread or have already taken a nosedive off a cliff. Then I remember that I’m 35. And most of the people I know have been married as long as I have, or longer.
If I’m not hearing about divorce, it’s separation, or infidelity. Every time I hear about another marriage falling apart it shakes me to my core. I have a fleeting moment when I think: but we’re solid, we have a strong foundation, we’re going to make it. But I believe we all have those feelings about our marriages, until we begin to doubt them.
I had no idea how hard marriage could be. Our two personalities, sometimes like oil and water coexisting in the same home. Sometimes clashing together, sometimes melting like butter. But always constant, and never questioned.
Then children come along. And they need you. Your protection, your love, your energy, your everything. How can a marriage not suffer just a little bit under all this pressure and exhaustion?
I know I have lost myself in these roles of wife and mother. When I have a day to myself, I often can’t remember what I like doing. What Cristina likes doing. I have to think about it for a bit, and then a list of things come to mind: reading, watching a move in the theater alone, eating all-day breakfast in a restaurant – near the window with a good book, getting my hair done, shopping, writing, sitting by the lake and listening to the waves…
I don’t have enough of these days to fill my bucket. I need more of them. I feel like there are only breadcrumbs left of me sometimes, and I want to make a whole loaf of bread with them, but how?
This shit is hard. But it’s also required. All these stages in life are needed to shape me. One day I will look back on this version of myself and want to reach out and hug me. Because I’ll recognize how raw and used up I was. I’ll want to say: I’m so proud of you. You did it. You bloomed.
And then I think of my husband. And how he must feel at this stage. He listens to me complain all the time. He works so hard. For the past five years it was only him working, supporting our family. I think about all that pressure. And then coming home to me, who hasn’t spoken to a grown up all day and I just start talking and won’t stop… and the kids miss him and jump all over him… the two of us, just needing a friggin’ break from all this chaos for just a minute!
This stage is hard. I can understand why some marriages can’t withstand the pressure, and crack. I can understand how spouses can feel used up and exhausted and have nothing left. But I also feel like we need to hold ourselves accountable for the promise we made to each other.
We need to speak up when we’re suffering, I don’t mean complain, I mean have an honest conversation with your spouse about the pressure. And listen to them too, cause they’re just as thinned out as you are. Just hear each other, and be sympathetic. The worst thing you can do is shut down, or be selfish and only take care of your own needs. Because the moment you said “I do” you became a team – and it should always be the two of you facing the exhaustion, pressure, worry, needy kids, overwhelming tasks together.
I could go on writing, but I’m not a therapist. I’m just a woman who is figuring her shit out and sharing it with you.
My only piece of advice here is to take care of yourself – this is the advice I suck at taking myself by the way so I kinda hate that I’m giving it. Ask for time alone. Offer each other time away. And ask for help with the kids, AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE, so you both can have time together without the pressure of everyday life.
Who’s at the next stage? With preteens or teens who have calendars filled with activities and attitudes that can sting… how do you keep your shit together and your marriage strong?