The topic of divorce has been on my mind a lot lately. Not because of anything going on in my marriage (thankfully!), but because it seems to be surrounding me. It feels like every time I log onto social media … Continue reading
I wrote this post back in August, and it has been sitting in my “rough drafts” since then.
I came back to it today, because this topic has been on my mind the last week…and not for a good reason. Jeremy and I have finally hit our “rough patch”, and we are still working through it.
Although it’s not a happy time in our marriage, and I am struggling, our marriage is worth fighting for. It’s not always going to be rainbows, that isn’t a realistic expectation for a lifetime commitment involving two completely different people. But working through the hard times is what defines a marriage; working through the time when you don’t feel “in love”, because you know that your love is worth the fight.
Last weekend I went to dinner with some friends that I haven’t seen in a while. One of them shared that in the last year she had divorced her husband. She had never advertised that they were having any difficulties in their marriage, so I was surprised to find out that he had cheated on her many times over their 10 year marriage and had a girlfriend on the side for many years. She had been aware of his cheating, but had made the decision to stay; first hoping that he would change, and finally, to keep her family together for the children.
I’ve had other friends who have gone through infidelity or other “rough patches” in their marriages. For those who work through them and come out on the other side, I always sense a greater depth to their relationships. Not always in a positive sense that their marriages are “stronger”, but just an added layer of complexity and experience.
In the 5 1/2 years that Jeremy and I have been married, I sometimes still feel like such “newlyweds”. I still feel like our marriage is just starting to blossom; it’s still so “untried”.
I’m not saying that I want to go through some tragic experience; nobody wants infidelity or any other “rough patch”. But I do wonder what it will take for Jeremy and I to move out of the newlywed stage.
Two deployments and 5 1/2 years of marriage hasn’t done it. Will it take having children? Will it take buying a house?
Do I even want that added complexity of a “tested” marriage? Is there anything wrong with having a happy carefree marriage? Or am I being naive in thinking that nothing will come along that will test us to that level?
I’ve had this post as a draft for the last few months, not feeling that it was polished enough to post. It’s a sensitive topic that requires precise wording, and I’m not sure if I’ve captured it right (so don’t be too harsh with your feedback!). But in the last few weeks, life seems to be pointing me back to this topic….so I’m giving it another try.
When I first got married, my husband was my life; as is probably true for most newlyweds.
Recently, I’ve been noticing that it seems to not be a newlywed thing, but a woman thing.
A friend of mine was offered a great work opportunity. Upon finding out that it would cut into her scheduled date nights with her boyfriend, she asked him how he felt about her taking the position and missing out on that time together.
I don’t judge her for asking, I did the exact same thing when Jeremy and I first got married (see my pervious post about passing on study abroad opportunities in college)
Now I look back on those times, and on my friends current situation, with frustration. Frustration that women are so relationship focused that our careers come second to men.
Being considerate of others feelings is a wonderful thing. Working on your relationship is a great priority to have. But at what point does it become a detriment to our own success?
This topic came up with my friend, and then again a few days later when I was meeting some new wives on base.
I was discussing with some other wives the question of if they stay with their spouses until the final good-bye of deployment; when they get on the bus and drive away.
I shared that at my husband’s first deployment I stayed until he left, but at this second, I dropped him off and then went home…because I had to work very early in the morning and he wasn’t going to depart until 2 or 3 in the morning.
A spouse commented that “I should have called into work”
This comment stuck with me, because it so clearly echoed the conversation I had with my friend just days before.
I’m not saying that I don’t treasure those last moments with my husband before he leaves for deployment. There is nothing wrong with trying to rearrange my schedule to be there for him. He would do the same for me; and he has, when he asked for permission to come home from a training mission for the day so he could be at my graduation.
But the idea that I should call into work, that it’s selfish to not sacrifice my career for time with him, chafes me. The idea that I shouldn’t work evenings, because I don’t want to miss out on time with him before he deploys. The idea that my friend should base her decision on taking a new work opportunity on her boyfriends schedule.
The idea that my time and my goals as a woman are less important than my partners.
There was a time in my life when spending time with my husband was the most important thing to me; above my friends, my own hobbies and interest and my job.
Maybe my friend is still at that place. Maybe some women never leave that place (and that works for them). Maybe our culture and expectations of women, work and relationships will never evolve.
But for me, that’s a place that I’ve left behind. My husband and my marriage is still one of the most important things to me, but it’s balance with the other parts of my life that I value; it’s no longer the sole focus of my life.
I heard a quote in a movie trailer recently (I can’t remember the movie now) from the female lead to her male partner: “you are the life in my ‘life story'”
At first, I thought that was romantic (which goes to show how much our culture has impacted my views of women and relationships). But then I realized how messed up that quote really is.
I am the life in my life story: my marriage, my career, my family, my friends
Last Friday Jeremy came home late from work. Not horribly late, just a few hours later than normal (7:00 instead of his usual 4:30/5:00). I didn’t pay much attention to it, since I had been busy doing my own things; got home from work around 5:00, took the dog to the dog park, started making dinner and cleaning up the small messes around the house that had accumulated over the week, etc.
As we were sitting down to dinner, Jeremy said that his boss tried to give him marriage advice today. Jeremy had stayed late at work to finish a project, and his boss told him he should go home and spend time with his wife, not stay at work.
Overall, not a bad message, and certainly preferable to having a boss that has no sense of work/life balance. However, his bosses motivation for his comment are what struck me.
He told Jeremy to go home because his wife must be lonely and waiting for him at home. When Jeremy explained that I have a job and I had actually spent only two hours “lonely and waiting”, he was shocked and actually asked Jeremy, “what do you mean she has a job?”. Yes, a military spouse that has a career of her own….CRAZY!
That, however, is not the theme of this post. Jeremy’s boss then said that he had overheard Jeremy saying that he was going dirt biking on Saturday and golfing on Sunday…so Jeremy should be going home early to spend time with me to make up for the fact that he is leaving me alone all weekend.
This is the point of my post.
Jeremy and I have never been one of those “attached at the hip” couples. We are both introverted, so we like to be alone a lot…even away from each other (although I can tolerate Jeremy being present during my “alone” time lol). We also have very different hobbies and interests. That used to really bother me, and I would wonder how we can be a couple and have a long-term marriage if we have nothing in common! Aren’t we doomed to fail?!
I read a blog about this topic earlier in the week after my friend had posted it on FB: If We Weren’t Married, We Wouldn’t Be Friends
I’m not a huge fan of the title, because I do think of Jeremy as my best friend. I love spending time with him when we do things together (they talk about in the article how couples do find joint activities, even if their main hobbies are very different) and he is someone that I trust and can talk to.
What I loved most about the article, was that they highlighted a concept that I believe to be very true. Something that I feel plays a major role in how happy I am in my marriage and how stable it is.
The truth is that you don’t need to like the same things in order to be married (or even to be friends!). What you need in order to have a strong relationship is shared values….Our long-term goals align with each other’s. In those things that are truly important, we don’t clash.
A compatible marriage isn’t about shared hobbies (although that probably makes things much smoother and fun), but about the deeper, more important, aspect of an individual. Core values, long-term goals, etc.
So, no. I don’t care that Jeremy goes golfing and dirt biking on the weekends. I don’t think that our marriage will fail because he is spending too much time on his own hobbies. We may not have the same interests and hobbies, be we are aligned in so many other important ways.
So, while Jeremy’s boss was coming from a good place with his marriage advice…I think we will keep doing it our way 🙂 5 1/2 years of marriage and I would still choose him all over again.
Every wedding I go to I always reminded of my own vows, the ones that I made to Jeremy 5 1/2 years ago. When the new bride and groom are up there exchanging their vows and rings, I imagine that I’m saying those words to Jeremy again.
I’m often overwhelmed by how much I love him in these moments; when I really concentrate on my feelings rather than just experiencing them under the surface of all the other responsibilities of my daily life.
I honestly think that I love him more now then I did when we got married. I’ve experienced and lived those vows with him now; they aren’t just words.
Like most normal American women, I grew up watching romantic comedies and reading sappy Nicholas Sparks novels; all of which shaped how I view love.
I so easily accept the physical representations of love; seeing my co-workers boyfriend hand delivered her flowers on Valentines Day from her boyfriend and thinking to myself that “he must really love her”.
There is nothing wrong with those superficial expressions of love. In fact, most healthy relationships are based on some expression of each partners “love language”: gifts, words of affection, touch, etc.
But I’ve come to realize that there is a deeper, more hidden, level of love.
One that is even more powerful and strong than the gifts and “I love you” that make it to the surface.
The roots and foundation of a true love.
That is what I see in my husband.
He has very few “sprouts” that make it to the surface; but his network of roots is so vast and deep that it will never be broken.
He is reserved and contained in his love. Not very affectionate or easy with words of affection.
His love is a part of his core; part of who he is on a fundamental level.
He isn’t always an easy person to love, missing the surface expressions of love that society has conditioned us to accept and expect. But to be loved by him is to know true commitment.
I am so very blessed
I’ve previously mentioned my planned solo trip to NY in September, and my feelings about traveling without my husband.
I also recently started talking with my good friend about making a trip together out of the county, either Europe or Greece.
The same day that we were researching vacation deals, a girl I know posted on FB about being upset that her husband wanted to go on a vacation to Mexico that his buddies invited him on (a dudes only trip). She asked for others opinions; if she has the right to be upset or not.
I was VERY surprised by the comments:
Honestly, he shouldn’t want to go anywhere and have fun without you there.
when you’re single is when you do solo vaca!! married it’s time to do it together
were married I would not want to go experience a beautiful place without him there to share it with. I’d hope he’d feel the same. We got married to share our lives together, it wouldn’t feel right otherwise.
It honestly never occurred to me to NOT go on vacation with my girlfriends and to enjoy that vacation.
Just because I’m married doesn’t mean that everything in my life has to include my husband. That I can’t enjoy anything without him by my side.
Aside from the fact that I think it’s kind of unhealthy to do absolutely everything with your spouse, my husband and I have different interests.
He has 0 interest in going to Europe or Greece. Neither is his idea of a fun vacation.
So my options are to a) deny myself a vacation/experience that I want b) make him go with me and have him be miserable and therefore suck all the of the fun out of the trip or c) go on the vacation/do the activity with someone else
I pick C, every time.
Sometimes I feel like people become so enmeshed in their relationships that they forget that they are their own person too.
I once had a girl tell me that she denied herself drinking Dr. Pepper (which she loves) while her husband was deployed because she didn’t want to enjoy it without him, since it was something he liked too.
That just sounds depressing to me.
I would never want my husband to purposely make himself unhappy; to deny himself something that he enjoys.
Why would I think he would want that for me?
I am my own person. He is his own person. Somethings we enjoy doing together, and I love to have him by my side. Sometimes we do things separately, either because one of us doesn’t want to do the activity, or because one of us has to miss it for other reasons (work, deployment, etc.) In either case, we are happy that the other person is getting to enjoy that experience, regardless of if we are there or not.
It makes me happy when Jeremy is happy, whether I am with him during that happiness or not.
What do you think? Would you take a vacation without your spouse? Would you be upset if he wanted to go on a trip without you?
Last week (May 16) marked 6 years since Jeremy and I first met and started dating (we count the day we met as the start of our relationships, even though we didn’t make it official until a few weeks later. After the first meeting, we both actively pursued each other and neither had any other romantic interests).
Our anniversary correspond with me reading a prompt online; “what first attracted you to your spouse”.
The prompt made me really take a look back at those first few conversations/interactions I had with Jeremy. What initially drew me in and welcome his attention.
The physical is easiest to pinpoint. I’ve always had a “type”. Tall, white, skinny, county and short hair. Aside from one half-latino guy I briefly dated, all of my boyfriends have met at least 4 out of 5 the criteria. I suppose I’m a creature of habit!
Just one look at Jeremy and I knew that he was 99% my type (taller than me, white, skinny and with a military hair cut). The final selling piece was his boots. At the time we met, Jeremy was going through his “California” phase; he thought that California girls didn’t like country boys, so he was trying to be more suave. But he couldn’t part with his boots. Authentic and well worn cowboy boots; still covered with dirt and cow poop from his days on the farm.
Those boots were what got me hooked.
But the physical is such a small part of what initially attracted me to Jeremy.
What was most attractive to me was his goodness.
With just a few conversations, I knew that he as a old-fashioned and honorable man.
The kind of man who would answer his phone at 2 am and drive out to a bar to pick up a drunk friend who needed a ride. The kind of man who would pull over to help a stranger change a tire. The kind of man who wouldn’t pressure a girl for sex or try to take advantage of a situation (aka, our exact situation the night we met)
I think that drew me to him because that is a quality that I respect and admire. Something that I wish I had more of.
It also drew me to him, because it’s a quality of a good life partner, and I’m a practical women. Yes, I wanted love and butterflies, but I also wanted a man who was honorable and trustworthy. A man who I knew would honor him commitment. A man who would never cheat on me or hurt me.
A man like Jeremy.
What qualities initially attracted you to your spouse?
I’ve been seeing this photo a few places online over the last few days; always sparking some kind of debate
The responses are what you would expect:
Women citing that they got married after (some time less than a year) and they have been married for (10+ years).
The other half of the women saying that they aren’t married yet, and they are waiting 2+ years to tie the knot and/or they waited 2+ years to get married and that as a result their marriage is better/deeper/stronger/etc.
To summarize, everyone thinks that their decision was the right one and the other side was wrong.
Everyone but me.
I got married after knowing my husband for 9 months.
I’m still very happily married (over 5 years)
I DO NOT recommend getting married as quickly as I did.
Let me first make it clear that I don’t regret my choice to marry quickly. I love my husband very much and I am so happy with how my life has turned out.
But I will be the first to say that I did not know Jeremy completely or fully when we got married. After knowing each other for 9 months we had just scratched the surface.
I hadn’t seen him interact with his mother. I hadn’t seen how he would treat a sick animal. I hadn’t seen him sleep deprived or angry.
I only knew part of who he is, and I liked what I had discovered enough to promise my future to him.
I got lucky that the rest of him was just as amazing as the parts that I knew when we said “I do”
Our marriage has taken work, of course, it’s not all luck. But luck certainly payed a big part of it.
I am lucky that he is the kind of man who has infinite patience with his mentally ill mother. I am lucky that he cleans up our puppy’s trow up at 2am without a single complaint. I am lucky that he never yells, insults or curses at me when he is angry, no matter how sleep deprived he is.
I am luck that he is a better man that who I thought he was when we got married.
People are complex. To this day there are still things that I am learning about myself. So while you may be a lucky couple that ends up with 50+ years of happy marriage after getting hitched after 2 months. I think the chances of long term success are much higher if you take the time to truly get to know the person you will be stuck with for the rest of your life.
Now that I’m in my mid-20’s, and most of my friends are the same age or a few years older, I’ve noticed that some of my single friends seem jealous that I am married.
This is a huge turn around from the first 5 years of my marriage, where all my single friends thought I was crazy and giving up my life to get married so young.
I attribute the shift in attitude to the societal pressure to settle down and get married that most women feel once they hit around 25/26. At that point, they are done with college and likely a few years into their career, which means that the priority should now shift to relationships; finding the right man, settling down and getting ready to have a few kids once they hit 30.
I’ve find that I feel very odd about the jealousy; because they are jealous of my marital status, not my marriage.
As my friends, they of course care that I am happily married, but the jealousy isn’t about my happiness with my husband, it’s about the fact that I have a husband.
They think that I have “won”; I’ve crossed the finish line of life…I am married.
I wish that I could make them see that marriage isn’t the finish line; it’s the start of a whole other race.
Getting married isn’t the destination; it’s just the start of a new adventure.