1) It’s mostly messy
I walk down the stairs and note that I should vacuum with the little hand vacuum to get the lint off the innards of the step, note that the music parlor carpet is littered in glitter (shocking given my no-glitter stance), and the wince at the state of the kitchen counters. Yeah, our home could be more meticulously cleaned, but marriage is messy.
Beyond the house, the kids’ endless laundry, the to-do lists, we as people are conflicted, sleep-deprived, and one of us is hormonal. Everyday is a choice to forbear and be kind anyway.
2) We aren’t how we were and that’s okay
I’m still who I was because I think that rarely changes on the profound level of our personhood. But I’m not how I was. I’m lumpier and wrinklier, more patient and more accepting of the daily grind. He’s better practiced at handling my lines of prosecutorial inquiry about any subject we disagree on. Hopefully we’re better, more mellowed, more melded into each other.
3) Learning what makes him happy has served me better than trying to guess
I know what he cares about for gifts. I know what he cares about around the house. I know which conversations bore him and which ones he loves to opine on. I know how to arrange our lives and schedule for the optimal outcome. After years of guessing or just simply doing what I liked, I know actually pay attention to him and his happiness. It’s another daily practice.
4) Children are the biggest blessing and challenge
We’ve been blessed with 4 kids in 6 years, our first conceived just a few months into our marriage. What babies we were ourselves! No idea how to parent together or how to sort through life! I mean, we thought we knew but it takes time and encountering the realities of barfy pregnancies and slow recoveries, job stress and long hours, to really get to that place of knowing.
And our kids have shaped us profoundly.
5) Bad habits are easily formed and good ones are more difficult
Walking past dirty dishes and mounds of dirty laundry to get to my book–easily done. Being too tired after nursing the baby down to tidy up the remains of the day. Not making my bed or a list of my to-do’s for work before I jump in means I’m scattered and crabby and dinner may be from the freezer. Not texting him complaints all day long–difficult!
6) Food is key
We both love to eat delicious food but have learned that the practice of preparing and cooking and cleaning up said food is hard to do. But if I’m well-fed and not running on adrenaline and fudge from the freezer, I’m not an insane bat. If he has a huge dinner after a long day of working working and marathon training, he probably will make it after bedtime long enough to chat or tidy up the house instead of crashing on the preschooler’s bed.
7) It’s okay to have different interests and passions
I went through a summer a few summers back where I freaked out that we didn’t share any interests!! I was panicked it meant our relationship was dead-ended and we would languish on for decades without any fun ever again.
It is okay to love different things (him: long runs, me: sewing) so long as we listen to and participate as a cheerleader or emotional supporter of the different interests!
8) Laughter is key
But what we’ve found that makes up for not loving doing the same things in our few moments of free time is LAUGHTER! For us that means watching some SNL online or a re-run of Parks and Rec. Just laughing together is truly medicine for our friendship.
9) Praying together is less awkward than it used to be
I’ve struggled for years with praying together, feeling like I have little to offer in terms of a spiritual partnership to my very spiritually grounded husband. Slowly slowly we’ve worked on praying together, sharing spiritual thoughts and books, and I no longer feel so weird about it, or just like I’m way behind in it.