Work It

Yesterday, I re-read my About Page with the idea that I would add a few things, but I was caught on the happy little love story I outlined.

I stared at the pictures of me and Cort for a long time, forgetting what it was I was going to add.

You guys seem like the best couple ever.  So fun and so happy.

This is life.  Crap happens.  Our response has always been to cling to each other and laugh as much as we can reminding each other that we will get through it by God’s Grace.

But what if you stop clinging to each other?

What if nothing is going wrong and life is just life and things get mundane and the small things get annoying?

What happens when you just did dishes and the sink is already piled high again? Is it worth “clinging” about?

What if nothing is tragic, so you aren’t holding on tightly?  Or much at all?

What happens then?

What is happening to us?  Something isn’t right. It’s not…clicking or something.

Marriage is work, yo.

I give the side eye to anyone who says they have been married for a billion years and never felt like their marriage was work.

Love is not work.  Not to me.  At least not that I have experienced yet.  I love easily and freely and with all my heart. I have never ever doubted my love for my husband or my sons.

Now “liking”, that is different, but love? That is natural.

Marriage, on the other hand is WORK.  Work that has to be done by BOTH parties or it’s not going to work. I mean, marriage is TWO people, not just one.  It’s a team effort.

In our first couple years of marriage, we experienced Cort’s dad dying, two miscarriages, unemployment, and mental illnesses along with other family deaths.

We hung on to each other fiercely.

We weren’t working on our marriage, we were working on our hearts.  On our hope.  On our positivity in this world.

When you are holding that tightly to someone and you are joined together through grief and mourning and struggle, the marriage just is.  At least it was for us.

If someone was struggling, the other became the rock.  We were a team.  We kept the team going.

Then our team expanded.

Children change things.

Cort and I are both pretty independent people; we both lived alone after school and before getting married.  When it was just the two of us, we were home a lot together, but we could do our own thing.  If I wanted to clean the house and then read a book, I didn’t need to clear anything with his plans to run to Lowes’ and reorganize the downstairs desk area.  We went about our day, went out to dinner, and usually had a conversation that started with, “So, how was your Saturday?  Did you get to do everything you wanted?”

That is not the case anymore.

“Free and easy” isn’t a thing with two kids under four.

If we both have errands and expectations of the day, there are still two kids who need someone with them.  We can’t both just pack up and leave without considering the kids and their schedules.

We have always prided ourselves on our communication.

Except that lately ours sucks.

Life is not tragic right now.  We are not holding each other each night reassuring the other that it will be ok.

Instead, we are falling into bed after hardly talking because the nightly routine of kids’ bedtimes and getting other stuff done has taken away “our” time.

We roll over mumbling a “‘night. Love you.” to each other.

Something isn’t right.

We have gotten frustrated with each other quickly.  We have both been guilty of being mad that the other is not a mind reader.

This past week Cort came to my therapy session with me.

We talked a lot about where the breakdown seems to be happening and when we feel most loved by the other.

That night at home, after the boys were in bed, we sat and chatted about the session and about the work that we needed to do.

Wednesday I came home to roses on my bedside table.

Not because he was sorry–there was nothing to be sorry about–but because he had thought about doing it the week before and had not done it.  Instead of just having the good intention, he did the nice thing.

Coincidentally, I had ordered him a print with a song lyric on it that I had custom made for him just because I knew he would think it was awesome.  It arrived on Wednesday.

Wednesday, while dinner was cooking, we held each other and laughed.

We held on as tightly as possible, so much so that Charlie crawled up and hung on too.

We are not a perfect couple by a long shot.  We have to work hard at this reality that is still new to us–being parents.

We need to learn to put our marriage a bit higher on the priority list.  Maybe even above the dishes.

We have a date next Saturday.  Our first since Charlie was born.

Marriage is work.  And we are going to work it.

Together.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl…wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Yes, yes it is. It absolutely IS work, and it’s hard work.
    We’ve had a hard time too, these past few years. We’ve had fights, fallouts, days gone without talking to each other because grudges were held.
    Some days, we forgot who we fell in love with.
    We’re trying though. We are working on it. We talk, we try to be together at the end of the day, we’re sounding boards for each other.
    I’m glad you and Cort are working at it. It’s worth it.

  2. You know how people always say the first year of marriage is the hardest? I call total BS on that. The hardest time in marriage is having kids. I remember that first year after our first was born. I loved him, but I HATED him sometimes too.

    There are weeks we don’t speak. Not because anyone’s mad, just because life is busy. He’ll tell me something on a Sunday morning and I’m like “Why didn’t you tell me?” and he’s like “I didn’t?”

    You say it perfectly, love is natural, love is easy…but marriage is definitely work. I think you guys will be just fine.

  3. I JUST finished a post quite similar to this and it’s sitting in draft. yes, It’s work but it’s so worth it.

  4. I’m happy for all of the couples who have easy marriages, the ones who say their flames never waver. Truly, I am. But my marriage is like yours. It can be work… hard, frustrating work. I’m proud of what we’ve done together and how far we’ve come, where we are and where we’re headed. In a few weeks, we’ll celebrate our 13th anniversary. Yay us! Yay you guys!

  5. Melissa says:

    We just celebrated 5 years of marriage…and let’s see…two moves…two kids…three bouts of unemployment…some medical scares…a miscarriage – hell yea it’s work! At our anniversary dinner (after literally barely seeing each other much less talking the past month!) we toasted to many more years, the love that we have and continue to have for each other and liking each other ‘most’ of the time….

  6. I will have 18 years under my belt with Gene in October. Isn’t it funny how when everything is falling apart you automatically cling, but when normal happens it seems like nothing clicks. Gene and I went to a bar nearly 3 weeks ago. The first ‘date’ we had been on in I do not know how long. We met our friends there, her husband’s band was playing that night. Last week we went again with my sister and her husband. Who is like me, everyone else comes first. They needed it as much as we do. We are going again this weekend. No we are not alcoholics lol My friend is having her birthday. I wrote about her earlier this week. Each birthday for her is a miracle. She deserves a date with her husband that doesn’t involve a hospital or dialysis. We are going to go out and have fun. It is work, it is hard. But it is so worth it.

  7. I love this. You are right that sometimes it is easy to lose focus when nothing is wrong. We’ve been in this same boat lately and trying to work it, like always.

  8. The perfect part of the two of you and your marriage is that you work on it everyday and that you both have the desire and dedication to make your marriage great. That is why you are perfect together!

  9. Enjoy your date! I know it will help a lot.
    And marriage is work for sure! But the best kind to be employed in.

  10. It’s like a reset button you have to hit to get everything back in place again and for some reason we forget or think the game is going on fine even though it keeps glitching and becomes harder and harder to play. (I just recently watched Wreck It, Ralph. Sorry.)

  11. Thanks for writing this. Very few couples are on the Innerwebs together. Usually it’s the wife. With my wife and I writing for our sites people get to see the couple. What I’ve loved about getting to know Sluiter Nation is it’s obviously you two love each other, but you also show your vulnerable side, too.

    Like Alex said, you said to hit reset and start over from the base of why you fell for each other in the first place. we’re going out tonight because we have no kids for 24 hours. we don;t really have plans, but we’re spending time together. we’ll end up talking, drinking, goofing off, maybe get arrested, you know, couples stuff.

    You have to talk. a lot. Then talk some more. Also, appreciate each other even if it’s just one of you folding laundry. say thank you. Pinch each other on the butt while you’re cooking. Close the computer, look at each other and say “you know, you’re pretty hot” or whatever.

    great post

  12. I’m eight years into my fourth marriage but I think I got it right this time. I’ve learned that there’s never a time when the right thing to do is nothing. Pay attention, reach out, hang on. Instead of lamenting what you don’t have, celebrate what you have. Shop together for everything and buy chocolate often.

  13. Ellen MR says:

    Hi! New here…totally relate! When there’s a crises you hold on- you NEED each other! Then back to normal and no distractions you can have a tendency to notice more (or maybe less?) and dwell on what was done or not said… Instead of appreciating the calm, we make our own storms.
    Its good you’re seeing this and being proactive about it! Good luck and best wishes to both of you!

  14. Thanks for the words of honesty and wisdom.

  15. Yep. We work it too. Every damn day. And sometimes we suck at workin’ it. And we get flustered with each other and there are silent moments. But then we put on our grown up pants and figure it out. We pick our battles and we love our kids. And we try, super hard to always show that we love each other. The love is totally there, but remembering to display it all of the time? Can be hard with all the other STUFF in life getting in the way.

  16. You are so right. I have felt the same way lately. Sometimes a day goes by and we’ve only said three sentences to each other. It’s so frustrating that life gets in the way of our relationships. It’s hard work to make and keep a happy marriage. I’m so glad you two are working on it, and I’m inspired to talk more with my hubby about ours too. Thank you for writing about this important topic that I’m sure many couples go through, if not all.

    PS. Those roses are beautiful. He’s definitely a keeper. 🙂

  17. Marriage is most definitely VERY hard work.

    Grueling in fact.

    But it is worth it.

    And flowers? How sweet.

    I hope you had an awesome date night.