Remember those days, when you were younger and newly married? Or maybe not even married yet? Life was grand! Sex was exciting, life was really just starting out, and without kids your life decisions came down to what restaurant or club you want to go out to, or if you can afford both Green Day and The Cure tickets. When your priest, or parents, or older coworkers talked about how marriage was “work” you just thought to yourself “not for us, suckers!” Ah, to be young an naive again!
Being with someone for the long haul is not easy. You are an individual, as is your wife or husband, and as such, there will always be two ways of doing things, of thinking, of looking at things. And because of that you’ll butt heads, get mad, be annoyed. There will never be another human alive that will annoy you like your wife. And trust me, the feeling is mutual. But that’s marriage. You need to compromise to survive. Both sides do.
When you have kids, that’s when things really get interesting. Pre-marriage and newlywed time is like the pre-season, when you have kids that’s when the marriage really begins for many. It’s different than having a dog. It’s different than juggling work, Thursday night bowling league and Friday night date night. It’s like having a job on top of your regular job, and then still trying to let that person you promised to “have and to hold” to actually have and hold you. Kid time is where the rubber hit the road. It’s the crucible, the crossing of the Rubicon, it’s battling the Crazy 88’s.
Marriage is hard.
Looks like we lost another couple of friends to the battle. They have two kids similar age as Loudboy and BirdsNest. Both are nice people, and like all of us had flaws. I’m not sure exactly what happened yet, but it was either a long slow decline that finally came to a head, or an acute cheating situation. The man, a workout buddy of mine I’ve known for a long time, has something missing inside that drives him to extreme sports and endeavors. He gives up his limited family time to do things to fill his void. His job is in a primarily woman dominated field, and had an emotional affair with a coworker over e-mail. His wife is a really nice person, and holds the family together, but doesn’t take care of herself. Mom haircut. Mom jeans. Extra 50 pounds. My pal, who I saw frequently, would weave into conversations any time he had gotten laid, leaving me the impression it didn’t happen much. So yeah, another one bites the dust.
It’s interesting, kids that is. They bring joy and love into our lives. They challenge us to be better people. They are our genetic link to the future. But they are energy and attention sucks to the thousandth degree. And some people figure a way to rebuff and grow with this challenge, and others fade, or adjust their priorities from husband-wife at center to kids at center. Ouch.
I was listening to a podcast by Dr. Chris Ryan called Tangentially Speaking (you can find it on iTunes or wherever you get podcasts, it’s really interesting). Specifically Episode 1 with Neil Strauss. In this episode, Dr. Ryan got into a childhood memory where he was maybe 5 or 7 or 9 (I forget, I’m not sure he knew) and his dad told him how much he loved him, but that he’d always love his mom more. That certainly left a mark on Dr. Ryan, and is a philosophy that at first blush is shocking. I mean, it’s your flesh and blood. Your offspring. How could a dad love someone more than his kids?
But if you stop and think about it, on a lot of levels it makes sense. Your spouse is who you choose to be with when you marry. I’ll say that again, you’re choosing to forgo all other people in this world and be with this one person forever.
That’s powerful stuff. They are with you before kids. And if you have the grit to make it through the gauntlet, after the kids leave the house you’ll be grinding uglies with that same person. So love the one your with and do whatever you can to keep that magic alive. To fight through those tough spots we all go through. WE ALL GO THROUGH! Oh, you’ll never see that shit on Facebook, but know damn well that perfect couple down the street, or that you’re friends with, have the same fights about the same stuff you do. Money. Sex. Engagement. Work. Time. Kids. You’re not a special snowflake, we all go through that.
We make a choice of how we handle that. Are you going to flake and get some extra nookie-nookie on the side? Is life and marriage and work so heavy that you’re checking out every day, getting drunk watching sports or sitcoms until you pass out or head to bed? Or are you going to figure out that you did choose someone worth fighting for, improving for, wading through your own shit for? Because at the end of the day, no matter how much you think it’s the other person’s fault, that life is greener on the other side, it isn’t. People going through second, third, fourth marriages can attest to that. Maybe the hardness of marriage is someone else’s fault, but you likely have a large hand in the state of your relationship, and until you self-(or professionally)evaluate your role it will always be on you to some degree. One of my favorite quotes on relationships is that a good relationship isn’t about finding the right person, it’s about being the right person.
So now that you’re old and wise, and hopefully not too late for you, remember that marriage is hard, and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re bad, or good. It just is. And whether you have kids or not, there will be fire to walk through, and storms to weather, and then the question is will you do that? Will she do that? If so, you keep riding the wave of highs and lows, because that’s really life – you can’t have one without the other. But we sometimes forget that. That like the lows, the highs pass too, and the cycle repeats.
Now a couple of videos just because