Last week my husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. We’re not breaking any record books yet, but in the last four years we have done a whole lot of living. Two houses. Two babies. New jobs and supporting two careers. A lot of change in a short amount of time. For the most part, we’ve weathered that change hand in hand, navigating the world and, in a lot of ways, growing up together.
Marriage and relationships are hard. When you get engaged, among the congratulations and elation, comes a whole lot of advice. And the words, “Marriage is a lot of work.”
No one tells you what that work looks like. That it requires just as much work on yourself as it does together. That “work” can feel like struggle and smell like disappointment. I am no expert on marriage or relationships. Like almost everyone, I’m making it up as I go. Sometimes I screw up. Sometimes I get it right.
And sometimes, in the midst of our busy life, my husband and I fall into a place where the busyness that we’ve gotten so used to – the juggle of two small babies, two careers, remodeling a house, and my default mode of over-ambition – that we neglect one another. We become so involved in just surviving that we forget to nurture the foundation of our family and lives – the two of us.
Recently, we went through a tough time. Nothing serious. Honestly, dealing with serious might have been easier. I can only describe this time as feeling like we were disconnected from one another. We had silly fights about dirty dishes, changing diapers – that shit that no one wants to do, but is required so the health department doesn’t show up.
I have a self-imposed rule in my life that I do not complain about my husband with groups of women and it’s rare that I say anything to even my close girlfriends. We’re a team and you wouldn’t talk smack about your teammate, so why your husband? And here’s the thing – I married a really, really good man. I was lucky to snag this fella. I adore him – how funny he is, how he can befriend just about anyone, and how he took on the role of father in the most natural way, doing whatever needs to be done to take care of our family. Because I adore him so much these seasons of disconnection are a hard pill to swallow.
I got to a place a few months ago where I felt like the disconnection was growing. Overall, my life was very, very out of balance and my marriage was suffering the most.
I turned to a friend who knows me well for advice. What she said changed my world in a fundamental way.
“Jenny,” she began. “We both know that you are fiercely independent and that you could leave, but that’s not what you want. So hold onto each other and fight for it.”
And that’s all it took. A simple reminder that this love that felt like it took forever to find is worth the fight. Fighting for it has taken many shapes in our marriage like holding my tongue, letting go of pride or needing to be right, making my husband the priority and taking the lead on date night.
It turns out what my marriage needed was a small reminder that the best things in life are worth fighting for.