Yup, you read that exactly right.
I thought I knew exactly what I was going to write about my marriage. I was sure I knew all there was to know about my relationship with my husband. I did research on making relationships last and thought about all the popular advice. You see it everywhere – “Why you should keep dating your spouse” or “Ten ways to make your marriage last”. We even took the “5 Love Languages” quiz! Well, this isn’t anything like that. I started writing this blog post and sat staring at the top, where it just said ‘Untitled’. And then it hit me. This isn’t a post about the sappy, gushy, magazine-worthy aspects of our marriage.
We are in survival mode, people.
Kevin and I have been married for five years. We got engaged in 2010. And dated for three years before that. We might be young, but we have 11 years together and that counts for something. I couldn’t even begin to tell you everything we have been through in the last decade, but what I can tell you is how we have survived it all.
|. We never fight over the BIG things.
If I ask him where he wants to grab fast food from, it’s about to be a throw down, drag-out argument. If he does all the laundry and I don’t fold it and/or put it away, or God-forbid I leave dirty dishes in the sink, I’m going to hear about it. I hate how he snores and always wants to watch scary movies and isn’t on board with all of my eco-friendly goals. He hates how messy I am, and how I hate doing housework. We argue a lot, usually when my anxiety gets the best of me. But when we were planning our wedding, I made most of the decisions while Kevin was in Afghanistan for 8 months. I ran everything by him, and we didn’t argue about anything (but the speeches). When we looked at SEVEN houses in one day, we didn’t even have to think twice before deciding to place an offer – that night – and not one argument was had. And when Emily asks me something, gets an answer she isn’t happy with and goes to him, I can hear him from another room saying “Did you ask Mama? What did she say?”. I’m not saying we are perfect, far from it for sure, but when it’s something important, we hear each other out and compromise pretty well.
||. We know that our relationship takes WORK.
My parents have been married for almost 30 years, and together even longer. Kevin’s parents are divorced, remarried, divorced and even more complicated than that, really. As divorce became more commonplace, I often wondered if my parents would stay together. Just because a relationship has continued for a long time, doesn’t mean it’s a healthy one 100% of the time. And I’m not tossing my ‘rents under the bus here – they’re great and I’m obviously thankful for the example they’ve given me.
Kevin, likewise, has learned from what he’s gone through. He has learned about what is important in relationships and what is truly a deal-breaker. What some people would’ve (and justifiably so!) taken as a great excuse to sabotage their life and relationships, Kevin has used to make him a better person, and a better partner. We both have faults and unrealistic expectations, but we are both completely aware that if we want to stay together – and stay HAPPY – we need to work at it. I used to be offended when Kevin was unhappy about something in our relationship but now I’d rather he just tell me so I can work on it. And he used to shut me out completely when he was upset, but has made huge strides towards keeping that door of communication open.
Another aspect of this is TEAM work. It’s not enough to just say you’re a team – you need to be one. We might argue over who is responsible for what around here (housework, food, parenting, bedtime, etc.) but when push comes to shove, we don’t have to say a word to work together seamlessly. Eight months in Afghanistan? No biggie, I’ll work part time, go to university full time, and manage your house and bills. I gotcha. Can’t get pregnant? Going through a miscarriage? He was all in every month, learning about cycles and having a semen analysis. Driving me to the hospital and for ultrasounds, and looking at the tests first so I didn’t have to. Doing anything, really, with two small kids? Divide and conquer baby you get one kid and I’ll grab the other. Wanna swap? No problem let’s do this. Making it WORK.
|||. We do what is best for US.
One of the most common pieces of advice I see is for couples to have a regular date night. Weekly, monthly, whatever. When we were going through our adoption home study, this was also mentioned to us. “How often do you plan date nights?” Short answer – RARELY.
Actually, we spent one night away from home this month for my birthday, and it’s the first child-less night we have had since having Chloe. She’s over a year old. Seriously. And it’s not that we don’t want to spend time together or that we don’t have the support in our life to make it happen. Kevin is in the military and I work shift work as a nurse and honestly, when our kids aren’t at daycare or with their grandparents we just want to be here with them. When they’re older (easier?), I’m sure we will be able to spend more time together. What works for us? Going to bed at the same time.
Yep, you just read that right. As I type this, Kevin is sitting on the couch exhausted but waiting for me. It’s not what you think, though. We go to bed together every night that we are home together – which between his job and mine, isn’t all of the time. One of us might go to sleep right away, or maybe we stay awake and talk for a while. I’ve been known to play Candy Crush for an hour while he snores away. Or we might have sex, it just depends on the night. But that’s our ‘date night’ time – just the two of us and it’s enough to get us by. It’s something we have always done, from my university days to newborn babies and everything between.
We don’t compare our relationship to other peoples’. And that’s seriously a good thing because who could keep up? You’ve gotta figure out what works and just do that.
We can survive anything.