Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
They told you marriage would change over time, that there would be hard times, but they never said it would be like this.
You might be exhausted and lonely, or feeling a little neglected lately. Maybe you had a fight last night and the night before that and the night before that. Maybe you’re feeling a little PMS-y and angry about the dishes that never get put in the dishwasher, and for the love of all things holy, would it be that hard to change the toilet paper roll. Maybe you’re in a little rough patch, snapping at each other about leaving the fridge door open and forgetting to change the burned-out lightbulb in the bathroom.
Or maybe you’re dealing with some really fucking brutal shit.
Whatever the case, your marriage feels hard and heavy right now. And you find yourself singing Coldplay lyrics on repeat. No one ever said it would be easy, but—dammit—no one ever said it would be this freaking hard either.
Everywhere you look, you see hap-hap-happy couples. You see the smiling picture perfect family photos on Facebook and think to yourself, I bet they don’t fight about what kind of cereal to buy. You see other parents and wonder if they were up until 2 a.m. bickering about whose turn it was to get up with the baby. You see cute couples at the park on the weekend, pushing their toddlers in the swings, and doubt they have ever gone through the low-grade suckiness that you’re in right now.
Well, I can assure you that they have. We all have. Sure, our “hard times” all look different—because each marriage is different—but I assure you that we’ve all been through our own rocky stretches on the path to marital bliss.
Because here’s the thing that no one tells you: Marriage is fucking hard. It will suck sometimes.
And do you know what else they don’t tell you? It’s OK that marriage is hard and sucky sometimes. You will be OK. Your marriage will be OK.
Here’s a few other things no one tells you about marriage, the things that no one writes in your bridal shower scrapbook of clichéd-crock-of-shit advice:
There will be fights.
You will fight about big things and little things and things you don’t even care about. You will fight about whether to shop at Walmart or Costco, about whether your son needs a haircut, and whether your Aunt Josie is a racist or just an idiot. You will argue late into the night about whether to sign your daughter up for dance lessons or the soccer team. You will have drop-down, drag-out brawls about whether the toilet seat should be left up or down. And you will give each other the silent treatment for two days after one of you suggests that your mother might be a little “needy.”
There will be anger.
In fact, you might scare yourself with the depth of blind rage that you feel when you see his socks on the floor or hear her loud chewing. You might want to smother him with a pillow when he snores blissfully as you get up in the middle of the night—again!—to feed the baby, get the toddler a drink of water, or calm the big kid after a scary dream. You might nearly lose your fucking mind when she runs out of gas—again!—and you need to leave a work meeting early and drive 60 minutes round-trip to pick her up.
There will be score-keeping.
You will tally up who slept less and who worked longer hours. You will keep track of who changed the last diaper and whose turn it is to control the remote. You measure who spends more hours chauffeuring the kids to soccer practice and ballet lessons, and who spends more hours working in a dead-end job that pays the bills and puts food on the table. You will keep score of the number of socks on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, and toilet paper rolls unchanged.
And there will be hard times.
And not the romantic hypothetical hard times that you imagined before you had kids, the kind that involve short fights followed by steamy make-up sex. No. Marriage is really fucking hard sometimes.
But here’s something else no one might have told you: It’s OK that marriage is hard.
Because even with the fighting and the anger and the difficult times, marriage is pretty fucking great. The truth is, some of the most amazing things in life—marriage and parenting among them—are really hard work. Marriage is not all heart-shaped rainbows and diamonds made from unicorn poop. Marriage is not skipping in the park together before having porn star sex in the middle of the afternoon. And marriage is not one of those cheesy status updates on Facebook with words like “soul mates” and “#soblessed.”
Marriage is hard work, and there will be difficult times now and then. Because when you share your freaking life with someone else—raising a family and building careers, paying taxes and choosing Netflix shows—it is impossible not to get bogged down in the muck now and then.
But you will get through it. You will remember that you’re on the same team. You will fight, and then you will forgive. You will compromise. You will get therapy if you need to. You will take a deep breath, flip each other off, and then laugh at yourselves.
So fear not, you are not alone. Marriage is hard for everyone now and then. And making it through those sucky stretches might even make your marriage better. Because even though marriage has its hard and shitty days, marriage is also knowing you have someone on your side who will hold an umbrella over you when the shit hits the fan.
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