Just Hold On To Me

“Take a look at all we’ve got, and with this kind of love. And what we’ve got here is enough. So, hold on to me tight. Hold on, I promise it’ll be alright. ‘Cause we are stronger here together than we could ever be alone.”

Michael Buble

If I’m being honest, I went back and forth on whether or not to discuss marriage in this space. There are a few reasons for it. Firstly, up until this point, everything I have written has not really involved another person. I mean, it has by association, but not in the same way that this does. And secondly, I wanted to focus on myself – being a mom, woman, teacher, and all other things. However what I realized was by leaving out the part of me that is “wife”, I am not presenting a true, authentic picture. To not discuss marriage would be leaving out a huge piece of myself. So, here we are. As I delve into this post, I want to preface the remainder of this post by saying that I am happily married. There is no one else I would want to go through this life with than Hubby. I am forever grateful to have him in my life, and I will definitely gush on him in future posts. That being said, there are some truths I want to unpack.

This year, Hubby and I celebrated ten years of marriage. A decade of growing a family, a home, and ourselves. If there is one thing I can tell you after ten years, it is that marriage is HARD. I remember when I had my bridal shower (and attended countless others), and the topic of marital advice arose. This usually came in the form of a fun game or survey for the guests. Everyone was responsible for giving a piece of advice to the future bride. There were always the usual “never go to bed angry” and “love each other every day”….. but nothing more than sugar-coated fluff. Granted, everyone is basking in the glow of pre-marital bliss; the high of the engagement and impending nuptials. It’s not to say that these things are not true, because they are. But there is more to it than that. No one really wants to speak the hard truths that that time.

I am left wondering if, just like with mothers, professionals, and everything else in our society, we do a disservice to married couples by not being honest. Marriage is a phenomenal experience for many people, just not by fluke. Disney paints the picture of being carried off into the sunset for eternity, which is ironically juxtaposed by Hollywood’s revolving door of relationships and divorces. But there is no REAL middle ground. There is no true depiction of what a relationship could and should be.

You choose someone to spend your life with and promise them to be there forever. So you work on that choice every day. Simply waking up and being married is not enough. This is the part that isn’t talked about – the part that involves the necessary work.

Now, this is not to say that it is onerous or laborious – but it does have to be intentional. Before we had kids, Hubby and I spent almost every waking hour together. We were both teachers so it meant working the same hours, and spending summers together. We had our own friends and interests, but there was very little in the way of spending time together. Having a family was top of the list for both of us, and when J was born, we pushed our relationship to the wayside. As with many couples raising families, children were put in priority over ourselves. When N came three years later, it meant even less time together. We focused on our family and raising children, becoming “mom and dad” first, and “husband and wife” second. In speaking informally with other couples, this seems to be the norm. When we speak to one another, not necessarily about specific things but in generalities, the consensus is that working on marriage becomes an afterthought.

For everyone, Covid highlighted many things. When we spend more time with one another in close spaces, things are bound to happen. For some, the environment became toxic – there is a reason why divorces skyrocketed during quarantine. Being in each others’ spaces for extended periods without reprieve is NOT easy. For Hubby and I, it was a godsend. We had already agreed pre-pandemic that we would be more intentional; reminding each other of our feelings, ensuring we told one another how we felt, and taking the time to be in each other’s space. But the pandemic, and the rise in Uber Eats and the like, reminded us that date night did not have to mean leaving the house. We began a tradition where we ordered in and ate a later dinner without getting frustrated that someone didn’t eat their peas or that someone fed their cheese to the dog. We were able to enjoy each other’s company and spend 1:1 time, all in the comfort of our pyjamas!

What was confirmed for us is that putting the work into a marriage does not have to include grand gestures or huge date nights. These things are fun, yes, but if they are few are far between, which they are, it’s not enough. It’s waking up every day and reminding the other person how you feel. It’s thanking them for taking out the garbage or letting them know you appreciate that they cooked dinner. It’s carving out 5 extra minutes before you go to bed to talk about your day. It doesn’t have to be something major every day, but instead little things throughout the week. So, every day we are intentional with how we show the other person we care about them. As I mentioned above, it’s not hard or onerous work, but it IS important and it IS necessary. Otherwise, we fall victim to the merry-go-round of the day and then you blink and weeks have gone by.

So, if you are sitting and reading this, thinking that your marriage isn’t perfect, congratulations – you’re human. If you are sitting there thinking that other people have perfect relationships and you are the odd one out, I’m here to tell you that no one’s is. We all have pain points and things that we disagree on. We have all put the kids first, to the detriment of our own relationships. We have all been through it. As is the theme of this blog, instead of covering it up with a bandaid or hiding behind beautifully curated social media squares, let’s make it okay to talk about it.

This is life. Love, mom.

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