It’s no secret that being a parent is hard work. I see post after post on my newsfeed about the struggles of motherhood. Heck, I even write for a blog that shares the challenges and triumphs of raising little humans. When you become a mom, you understand the coffee/wine clichés and you laugh at the witty memes about wanting to pee alone and making dinner with a toddler attached to your leg. It’s funny because it’s true. I know I can text my mom friends about my baby’s diaper blowout or my toddler’s refusal to eat anything green, and not only will they get it, they’ll have their own mom struggle to share. That’s the sisterhood of motherhood, and sometimes it’s the only thing that gets me through the day.
Parenthood is hard… but I think marriage is harder.
We are hardwired to love our babies. It’s literally in our DNA, but when it comes to spouses, sometimes the love doesn’t come as easily.
Yesterday my husband came home from work and we didn’t even say hi to each other. He took one look at me and knew that he immediately needed to take over. He rushed the kids outside while I made dinner and finally got around to vacuuming the living room. Then came the whirlwind that is our bedtime routine: baths and books and extra water and at least one tear-inducing meltdown. It was after 8 before we even said two words to one another. And by then we were too tired to say much. The romance isn’t always what it used to be. If you were to scroll through our text conversations, you would not find heart emojis or read anything even remotely flirtatious. Our texts would probably read like a calendar: “Swim lessons tomorrow at 5,” “Don’t forget I have happy hour on Friday.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband. He is the greatest man I know. I made vows on my wedding day that still hold true ten years later.
My point is that these vows should have read “until toddlers do us part,” because this stage of marriage? The one that involves diapers and carseats and arguing with three-year-olds about wearing sandals in the snow? It’s hard. There are fewer memes about struggling to connect with your spouse or the toll that financial stress can have on your marriage. There are no wife groups where we can ask for advice on how to get your spouses to communicate or remember to take out the trash. I’m not comfortable texting my friends when my husband and I argue about who does the dishes more often.
And that’s why marriage feels harder.
Why is sharing struggles about motherhood encouraged, but discussing marital issues feels so taboo?
Having marriage struggles doesn’t mean you’re going to get a divorce, just as having an off parenting day doesn’t mean you don’t love your children. It just means you’re normal. So, next time you have lunch with a friend or have a girls night out, don’t forget to ask about her marriage, too. Or better yet, share with her some of your struggles. Tell her about your latest argument with your husband and how it was resolved. Laugh about the challenges of motherhood and marriage.
I am willing to bet that everyone, especially at this stage in parenthood, struggles to connect with their spouse at some point or another. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember what it was like before children, when you didn’t fall into bed each night, exhausted from work and parental duties.
Sometimes marriage can feel more like a business arrangement than a testament of true love. Sometimes loving your spouse can feel like work.
If this is you, or has been you, or may be you someday, I’m here to tell you that it’s going to be okay.
I know this because even though my husband and I barely said two words to each other yesterday, we didn’t have to. I didn’t need to explain to him how hard my day was or how desperate I was for help. We’ve been together for so long and know each other so well, that a single look said more than a thousand words could have. He just gets it. For better or worse.
So even though it sometimes feels as though we are two ships passing in the night, I take comfort in the fact that I still get butterflies when I hear the garage door open every day at 5:00.