Watching a segment on marriage problems made me sad. Not for the people who were involved per se, but honestly, for the meaning of marriage. How many people jump into marriage without really understanding what is happening and what it takes to survive? I’m not saying everyone does it, needs the boot camps that are the new tv reality series out there, but it makes you think about the true bonds of marriage.
We’ve all had our challenges. Who hasn’t? Your spouse does something that really pisses you off. You explode and possibly even shout at each other. Hopefully, when you are done with your anger/frustration you can talk it out and work it out so you can move on. But if you can’t? Does this mean your marriage is doomed? Do you need couples counseling or separation? When I see these tv shows, and you hear how the people have only been together for a few years (or months, yikes!) and they are already needing to work on their relationship with severe outside help (aka boot camp), you have to wonder if they jumped in too quickly. And what that says for how your children will envision your relationship, too.
My husband and I aren’t perfect by any means. We have our moments that we can’t stand each other, shout it out, but then we always figure out a way to move on. Other times, we end up laughing it off, because we realize that the reason we are upset is silly in comparison to everything else going on in our lives (kids really DO change things). Sometimes it is simply agreeing to disagree, which at least we have our sides heard by the other. We have become better communicators. We have become a better support system for each other. We have become better parents, with more disciplinary ideas between us for all of the mistakes we have made and then modified along the way. We both agree we will always have something to work on, but now at least we have figured out how to do so. Not perfect, but able to work as a team.
We’ve had 12 years together. 2 years of long distance dating, 2 years of just living together with 1 year of being engaged, and 8 years of marriage. 1 apartment, 2 houses, 2 kids, 4 jobs later, we have had a lot to work on. The main thing is, we know we’re not perfect, we know we have to do a lot to make a marriage work, and we know that we didn’t jump into this whole life together lightly. We have had great role models in our lives to show us how to love and be loved, work together, and communicate.
The other issue that has been thrown into the mix is my postpartum depression and my prior bouts of depression before I had my eldest. For years, after a few traumatizing experiences (deaths of two people very close to me) and lots of other ups and downs, I struggled to come to terms with my depression. I met my husband right as this was all happening, and he stuck by me throughout, even persevered to help me get help. Then, after my youngest was born and I hit the rock bottom of motherhood, my husband supported me to the point that he actually talked with my OB who was worried and they worked together to help me get back on track, again. I knew that from the beginning he was a keeper, a rock, a support that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I wouldn’t say that I owe him, but I would say that this is what a marriage is all about; the thick and thin, good and bad, sickness and health.
I have been extremely lucky in my life and I do count my blessings every day. I do think that not everyone is as lucky as I have been in relationships. And yes, it saddens me to think of how many people don’t understand the reason why they should get married. It shouldn’t be out of convenience, guilt, or length of time together. It shouldn’t follow with a child because one or the other in the relationship wants one. You should understand that a marriage is work, but you shouldn’t have to struggle through it alone. Yes, many of the people on these “save my marriage” shows are doing it for the drama, the 15 seconds of fame, whatever. I mean, I’m no expert, but after the 12 years that we have survived quite a bit, I think we are able to withstand some pretty big challenges. And if we can’t get past something, believe me, you won’t find me on Jerry Springer.