My Marriage Is Imperfect, But We Still Have Love

by Wendy Wisner
marriage and children
RyanJLane / iStock

Last night, you left your dirty socks and underwear on the kitchen counter.

This morning, when I opened up the cupboard to get our big kid some cereal, Rice Krispies went flying everywhere because someone hadn’t closed the box correctly when he put it away.

As we were heading out the door to school, the little kid opened up his water bottle and was doused from head to toe with seltzer. Hmmm, I wonder who filled it with seltzer last night even though I’ve repeatedly told him not to?

Also, I would sincerely like to know why it takes you as much as a half hour to take a dump (believe me: I’ve timed it). Sometimes I worry that you’ve got some kind of severe bowel disease. Then I remember that you’re in there with your phone, the kids are screaming, and maybe you just need a freaking break.

But why can’t I take 30 minutes to use the bathroom? I don’t remember that last time I pooped alone, let alone for 30 minutes.

Dear husband, my list of complaints could go on and on—and it does, daily, in my head.

Sometimes the words of critique come flying out of my mouth: “How many times can I tell you to take out the damn trash?”and “Please, for the love of all that is holy, clean your crumbs off the counter.”

But then I look at you out of the corner of my eye, sitting there the couch, our son curled up in your lap. Your eyes are almost closing as you read him Green Eggs and Ham—again, for the 20th time.

You are so damn tired. You’ve been up since 5 a.m. You slipped out while the kids and I were still asleep. Then you got on a 5:50 train and sleepwalked up 7th Avenue.

You spent your day in a room full of 15-year-olds who roll their eyes at you almost as much as our 9-year-old son does. But in between the eye-rolling, you’ve got a few kids to pour their hearts out into their notebooks, to finally understand a line of Shakespeare, and to laugh at your inane jokes.

When you came home, I threw a couple of screaming kids at you and made you take out the trash. And now look at you, reading to our son, making all the funny animal noises even though you’re so tired your eyeballs are falling out of your head.

Dammit, sometimes it’s really hard to hate you as much as I want to.

The truth is, you try. Yes, you leave your shit all over the house and forget everything I tell you to do. But you’re working on it. Just yesterday, I went out for a jog, and when I got home, I saw the house was pretty darn spotless, and I hadn’t even asked you to clean it.

And yes, sometimes your patience runs thin, and you yell at the kids when they don’t listen to you—when their whining is at a decibel that would drive any human insane. But sometimes I see you take a deep breath before you fly off the handle. I see you pause before you start another argument with them.

Sometimes I wish you would try even harder. I know your job is hard, but mine is too. You’re gone at 5, but I’m up at 6:30, and I have to convince two stubborn, spirited boys to get up, put on clothes, and get out the door by 8 a.m. sharp. Then, I’m in charge of them for the next 12 hours. Oh, and I’m in charge of the house too, my freelancing career, the bills, balancing our checkbook, third-grade homework, and what feels like the entire universe, on my shoulders, every day.

This is not a contest, though. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. Having kids is hard. Balancing it all, and coming out the other side whole, alive, thriving—it’s no small feat.

And the truth is there is no one I would rather do this hard, beautiful, grueling, miraculous life with than you. No one.

You’re the man I married. You’re the man I fell in love with all those years ago—before we had kids ourselves, before all these big life responsibilities seemed to take over and obliterate everything else.

At the end of our long days, when we have that one short hour to ourselves before we collapse into bed, we sit on the couch eating crunchy snacks, immersed in our phones. Usually we’re so exhausted, we barely talk.

But sometimes I’ll look up at you for a second, and out of nowhere, I’ll be flooded with that old love. You’ll look up at me too, that familiar sparkle in your blue eyes. It’s the one that tells me that despite it all, we are all right. Our marriage is all right. We are happy. We are imperfect. And love will see us through.