Except we were in no shape ready to do any of those things. We scoffed when people said we should do pre-marital counseling. We had a GREAT relationship, we never fought, we were madly in love. It wasn't like we had issues. Now we know better and ended up doing pre-marital counseling when we were married for three years and in a marital crisis because, SURPRISE, problems will happen. Your spouse will disappoint you, you might even get hurt along the way, and you'll want to throw in the towel. Because what nobody ever tells you about marriage is that it is the hardest relationship to sustain.
But in eleven years, Matt and I have learned the following things through trial and error, and more counseling than we'd like to admit:
- In our own way, we are difficult to live with.
- I have a tendency to be awful. Sometimes my sarcasm and joking around isn't well received by Matt, though it's never my intention to hurt his feelings. I hate to say it, but sometimes we're like Jon & Kate Gosselin. Truly. People rip that couple to shreds, but I'm very much Kate- organized, controlling, bossy, demanding and Matt is very much like Jon- everything could be going to absolute shit and not a single crap is given. Which sends me over the edge because I don't always do well in chaos.
- His indifference to life makes it hard for me to enjoy myself sometimes.
- We aren't always a good team together. We are a couple that would only make it onto shows like The Amazing Race just because we would bring the drama factor, not because we had any chance at all at winning.
- Sometimes I have to be submissive to Matt. Which was the HARDEST pill to swallow in counseling. It goes against everything in my body, everything I was raised to be. I was raised to be independent, to not depend on a man for anything. Which, to some extent, is still very much me. But on the other hand, I've come to recognize that Matt does so much better as a husband and father if I defer to him, even on dumb things. I have learned to include him on every decision, and I consult with him before I do things. Even if I know I'm 100% right (because I am, let's be real), giving him that input makes all the difference. And coincidentally, takes a load off my shoulders at the same time. Bonus.
- I still struggle with trusting him, though it's been years since he's given me reason to not trust him. They same time heals all wounds but I can say with all honesty, I'm still waiting. But I've also come to realize that maybe it's OK for some wounds to still be there.
- But the most important thing I have learned is that nobody else is responsible for my happiness. At my lowest low in our marriage came the understanding that if I wasn't happy, I had to do something about it. And I started doing things for myself. Taking better care of myself, bonding with my children, re-establishing my friendships I had let go to the wayside in lieu of making my marriage work, and working on my own self esteem. I consider myself a happy person, but not because of Matt. Matt is just one happy and good thing in my life, among so many. There is no thing as a knight in shining armor. No guy is going to come around and change your life and make it all rainbows. You have to do that for yourself, and if you're lucky, you'll have someone you call a partner in life that gets to see you at your best.
- And on the other side of the coin, no person is responsible for your unhappiness. It's not your husband, or your wife's, fault that you hate your life. That you aren't as happy as you know you could be. You're unhappy because you choose to be. You're relying on someone else to carry your emotional weight in this world and that's nobody's job but yours. Own it.
- It helps to be absolutely stubborn and refuse to quit. There will always be times where you think you've had enough and maybe the grass actually is greener out there. And it might be. It absolutely could be better with someone else. But then we remember the vows we said, for better or worse, good times and bad, sickness and health, for richer or poorer.... and then realize we're in it for the long haul. And we're only human. We make mistakes. It's a life long learning process and I know he'll be there to help me along when I need it, just as I'm there to help him along when he needs it.
Love you, babe. Maybe someday we'll get to vacation without the kids again. xoxo