It’s been on my heart recently to share about my struggles and some of the things I’ve learned.
In a few weeks Damien and I will have been married for 10 years. God has blessed us in more ways than I can count and it has been amazing to watch him work in our marriage. Damien is truly my best friend and my deepest confidant. He supports me and hopes for me. He wants the best for me. I could not dream of having a better partner by my side.
That being said, life is not always peaches and cream. Its easy to live behind this facade of perfection. Too often we don’t share the struggles we are facing and I think that’s a bad thing. We need support. We need help. Letting other people know that we aren’t perfect is a good thing. No one is perfect. And if we act like we are, we are not only misleading others and missing potential opportunities to help others, but we are misleading ourselves.
People often talk about the first year of marriage as being tough, but I wouldn’t call ours tough. One advantage of getting married two months after you graduate high school is that we handled all of the life transition together. We figured out our finances together. We figured out what it was like to live on our own, together. I think that helped us avoid problems in the first years, because we were just figuring it all out as we went.
Fast forward 8 years and we were expecting the arrival of Big C. We were excited and terrified. We knew our lives would change, but it’s impossible to be ‘ready’ for kids. I can easily say that our toughest years of marriage have been the two since we have been parents. It is so easy to just blame sleep deprivation (and for goodness sakes we are!) but that’s not it.
I know that I have taken advantage of the trust and relationship we have built over the past decade. When I’m tired and frustrated, it’s so easy for me to take it out on Damien because he can ‘take it.’ I find myself draining my emotional tank with friends or especially while taking care of the boys and I often neglect to put any effort in to my relationship with Damien. I find it so easy to take advantage of his servant’s heart just because I’m tired or even lazy. Especially during that first year with a new baby, we found ourselves frustrated at each other more often than ever before. I know I would snap at him more easily and I wouldn’t give him as much grace and understanding as I expected from him.
Adjusting to life as three instead of two was tough. Being parents is amazing, kids are amazing, it’s all amazing, but don’t be fooled. Life changes in a way that you can’t possibly understand until you’re there. Our marriage has been pushed in all new ways. Just when we had a handle on dealing with the ‘major’ issues together, we found a whole new set of issues – that can talk back!
Through everything, we have tried to always communicate with each other. After a particularly trying day or week, we’d sit down and air out our grievances. I have to make a conscious effort not to take things personally and I try to make sure I don’t bring things up while I’m still stewing over it. I at least attempt to calm down and think through my thoughts before talking to Damien about how I’m feeling. It’s not always easy and it definitely doesn’t mean we’re perfect, but we have learned to work through difficult subjects. Ignoring them just means I have time to let things fester and that’s never a good thing. It is very hard to swallow my pride, but being intentional about sharing our frustrations with each other leads to a resolution and a deepening of our relationship. Finding time to talk with the kids can be a challenge, but we’ve had to learn to make it a priority. It’s tough to be a good parent when there’s something that needs to be talked about in our marriage. A healthy marriage leads to healthy parents!
I know I’ve mentioned it already, but the book The 5 Love Languages has been great too. Reading it made me focus on the fact that I often don’t do things that will intentionally help Damien feel loved. Sometimes I do them, but I really am working on doing them intentionally. Communicating with him what my love language is helps too. We have pretty opposite love languages and if we don’t do things intentionally, the other one feels pretty unloved at times. It has been a great reminder to focus on each other in the midst of raising our two boys. And it’s even been great to try to figure out what love language they might be and focus on theirs too.
I just wanted to share that our marriage is far from perfect. We have learned how to communicate, but that doesn’t always happen like it should. We haven’t been parents long enough to even pretend that we have it all figured out. All I know is that open communication and a God who loves us and works in our lives leads to a happy, healthy marriage.