Marriage is a funny thing, isn’t it? You pick a person and then decide that you like them enough to be with them FOR ALL TIME. Then, if you’re lucky, they feel the same way and you make it official. You commit to growing old together, possibly having kids together, going through tough times together, and hopefully making it out the other side still together. You live in the same house, you are willing to see each other first thing in the morning, you share dirty laundry, finances, tears, laughter, and snacks.
I’ve been married for almost 12 years and was with my husband for 7 years before that (living together for 5 of those). Marriage isn’t always easy. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be when I was in my twenties, and it certainly isn’t as easy as Hollywood would have you believe. Social media doesn’t help. As with parenting and housekeeping, it’s very easy to fall into the online comparison trap with marriage when you see people posting romantic messages to their significant others, sharing the wonderful gifts they receive, or talking about how they have such a great and equitable division of labor in their homes. My husband isn’t even ON social media, so he’s certainly not going to be sending me a public declaration of his love any time soon and we don’t surprise each other with gifts very often any more because we share finances and have family-based priorities for our money.
I love the recent-ish shift in favor of transparency in parenting on social media. It’s now acceptable and even encouraged to be honest about the struggles of parenting and the reality of messy houses, never-ending laundry, depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding challenges, behavioral issues, and more. I think we’re now starting to see the same thing happen with marriage (see accounts like @nottheworstmarriage and @marriageandmartinis on Instagram) and I am HERE for it. My marriage isn’t perfect. My husband is a borderline hoarder and I struggle immensely with the sheer volume of STUFF that we own. We don’t have traditional fights, but we are both master-level sulkers and can go for ages without speaking to each other. He never buys me flowers because we have a cat that eats anything green in the house and then throws it back up again. (I also told him early on that I dumped a guy once for being too predictable when it came to buying me flowers, so I made my own bed there really.) He leaves his socks on the floor even though the laundry hamper is RIGHT THERE. We’re both pretty selfish and have to schedule a year out to make sure we each get time for our own hobbies in and around taking care of our kids. I get frustrated because we’re not completing projects on the house as fast as I would like, but then I don’t want to help. I drive him crazy with my love of throwing things away. It goes on.
Being in quarantine together was revealing. I often question whether my marriage is a successful one, whether I should be expecting or even demanding more from my husband or whether I’m contributing enough to the relationship. But then we were locked in our house with a 5yo and a 2yo for over 8 weeks and we actually got along great. My kids drove me bananas, of course, but my husband and I did extremely well. Better than I would have expected, if I’m completely honest.
The moral of the story here is that every marriage is different. What works for one relationship might be very different than what works for another and that’s okay. Some couples thrive on romance, some maintain separate finances or even separate rooms, some fight all the time, some are inseparable, some need time apart, some share their love publicly. All might be happy. No one has the answer to the perfect marriage and what you see from the outside is never 100% what is happening behind closed doors. Sharing your life (and your snacks) with another person can be hard, but it can also be pretty awesome.