Three years ago today, I married the love of my life. I celebrated by taking both children to a WIC appointment by myself, then to the doctor so my 2-year-old could be diagnosed with ringworm, then to two grocery stores, where said 2-year-old threw a fit by throwing groceries out of the cart, all in 90-degree heat. And that was all before noon. Now, both kids are in bed, presumably asleep, and I’m dripping sweat onto the computer as I consider how to spend the rest of the evening. I’m tempted to just go to bed. I could use the sleep. But the house my husband so lovingly cleaned for us before we returned home is a tornadic disaster, and we’ve only been back one full day. Ah, life with children.
Aforementioned 2-year-old is showing a wild, independent streak. Tonight, she put her own supper away. (Miraculously, none of it ended up on the floor.) And she insisted on feeding her brother, not yet 6 months old, by herself. Needless to say, we were all a sticky mess after that was over.
Does anyone think this is what their life will be like when they get married? Toys strewn across the floor. Stepping over said toys on the floor. Stubbing toes on toys you forgot were on the floor. (This happened more than once tonight.) Wolfing down dinner because everyone, including the baby, is hungry at the same time. An hour or more to run errands that by yourself would take 15 minutes. Craving adult companionship while your husband is surrounded by friends, colleagues and brothers and sisters in Christ.
I promise, I’m not depressed. I can’t imagine not having my kids around, even if I sometimes can imagine what life would be like without them. I’m occasionally jealous of married couples who get to take a weekend to celebrate their anniversary. Since we’ve been married, I think our biggest celebration has been dinner and a movie. It’s OK. It’s life. It’s where we’re at. I know someday we’ll be able to do something special, and the time between now and then won’t seem long at all.
Three years isn’t a lot of time to gain wisdom about marriage and relationships, but I gave up the “Happily Ever After” myth a long time ago. People talk about the honeymoon phase. In some ways, I’m not sure we ever had that. But I certainly don’t view weddings the same as I did before I was married. I used to cry because I so badly wanted to be married. Now, I sit in the pew and think, do they have any idea how much work this is? I’m sure I’ll be real popular in any premarital counseling Phil and I do together.
But it’s true: Marriage is hard work. And I don’t think that ever stops. I know some marriages don’t last five years, and I wonder if some of those people were deceived about how much work goes into making a marriage … work. As I told a bride-to-be recently, some of the best pre-wedding wisdom I ever received was that marriage is not a 50-50 partnership; it’s 100-100. We don’t give half of what we are and the other person gives half of what they are. We both give everything we have to each other and to the relationship. I guess for some people that’s too much.
Enough rambling. I think my brain was melted by the heat today. All I really wanted to say was that I love my husband more today than three years ago, and different than I did then, and if we had to get married again, and I knew what I know now, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. God picked the perfect man for me, although he, and I, both are far from perfect.
Maybe happily ever after isn’t so much a myth but a distortion because I’m certainly happy in my marriage, but it’s not a no-problems-everything’s-perfect kind of happy.
It’s a satisfying, real-life, kind of happy. No castles, no fairy godmothers, just two people, madly in love, working out that love day after day.