A Marriage Comes of Age

Look at those babies!

Today our marriage is 14 years old. That’s the age of a high school freshman which makes me laugh because in some ways, our marriage is just like a 9th grader.

Ninth graders are no longer little kids, but they are not experienced veterans by any stretch. That is pretty much where we are in our marriage too. We are no longer the naive, innocent newlyweds of our first couple years. We have been through some stuff and seen some shit.

In the beginning we had stars in our eyes. We would sit and sip drinks and dream about what we would do with our new house–that seemed so big for just two people, where we would travel, where our life together would take us. Even though there were some rough spots in our life, the being married part was fun!

As we grew out of marriage toddlerhood, we realized that being married has some pretty tough spots. It’s not “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage,” so easily. Just like upper elementary kids begin to see that the world is not always fair, so did our marriage. Having babies was a challenge–even after the babies were here.

Our marriage was on the verge of being middle school age

By the time our marriage was out of elementary school, we had three more people along for the ride: Eddie, Charlie, and Alice. It’s pretty appropriate that our marriage became middle school age just as the chaos of having three kids was beginning.

Middle school. I know it well after spending the past five years teaching it. Middle schoolers are still kids, but wish for adulthood. They are slowly losing the innocence of youth while wanting to cling to some of it like a security blanket. Our marriage went through that too.

Having three little kids in our 30’s meant that we were changing diapers, potty-training, and wiping snotty noses after many of our friends were finished with that phase. We loved the little age of our kids, but also longed for adult interaction. We started to miss the days of having no one to answer to, no schedule to be on, no crusts to cut off sandwiches.

As we continue to grow together, we experience more loss and sadness, more valleys and hurdles, and we had to learn to navigate those while maintaining, even growing, our love and respect and communication.

Just like middle school, we have had to learn what we value, which hills we are willing to die on, and which ones we are content to pass by. We are learning what real friends are and who our role models are.

I would not say it gets easier; it just changes. And in some ways it’s become more difficult to focus on and nurture our marriage.

In the beginning it was just us and our dreams. We were each other’s plans. We went out all the time because we could. We talked all the time about everything. Kids complicate things. Now we are pulled in a zillion directions and most of our time is spent apart so we can do our own things. Someone is with the kids while the other runs errands, or we have the kids with us if we want to tackle a project together.

Our conversations are about budgets and school supplies and replacing the floor, dishwasher, paint colors, and on and on and on. Dreaming about the future means hoping we can get everyone’s schedules in a place where we can all be where we need to be: class, scouts, soccer, gymnastics, after school events, church events, and so on.

Once in a while we let ourselves think about traveling beyond the Michigan border with the kids–or alone! We still talk about what we want to be when we grow up, because 14 years of marriage is still dreaming of being full-fledged adults.

We are still very much figuring out this marriage thing, but we are trying to make it as fun as possible.

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.