The Odds Are Always Against Us (3 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last)
The odds have always been against us. Time, money, age; we’d never last, everyone said. Too young and too broke with far too unrealistic dreams and expectations for our life together. Get a grip they said, life is going to knock you down before you know it. High school is most certainly not the end of your romantic road.
High school, junior year, after a bad breakup with my boyfriend of over a year. He was also coming out of a particularly tough breakup and mourning the loss of our significant others, we formed a friendship. We revealed to each other not long after meeting that we had developed crushes on a brother/couple duo that had just transferred to our school and were in gym class with us. We laughed at each other’s attempts to flirt with them and mocked each other like close friends often do. He became the best friend I needed at that time. We stayed close for many weeks before eventually turning our “like” for our current crushes towards each other.
HIGH SCHOOL LOVE
Ah, teenage love. The end-all-be-all for many teens, who swear THIS boyfriend is THE one, no matter who says different. I had friends in high school who scoffed at the love I had for Jon, telling me things would drastically change after we graduated and to not be too heartbroken when things didn’t work out exactly the way I’d planned.
My parents laughed at how “in love” I was and frequently told me I was in way too deep for someone still so young. High school sweethearts are a rarity, they made sure to tell me more often than not.
Everyone laughed and rolled their eyes at our plans to move in together after high school graduation, when I was planning to go to college online while working full time and Jon was going to be an apprentice and get his electrician’s license. Keeping dreaming, they told us, reality is going to settle in and you’ll fall apart sooner or later.
14.5 YEARS LATER
We’ve been married for 9 years this October. We have a house and three beautiful kids in a mostly quiet neighborhood. We are best friends; each other’s biggest priority just below the well being and happiness of our children. We still laugh a ton and look forward to each other’s presence. We love the time we get alone at night to catch up on shows, finish a house project together or just sit and chat amongst the otherwise quietness that means the kids are all finally asleep.
When we have free time without our kids, we make sure to enjoy every minute. We watch our favorite TV shows or movies, go out to eat or just take a drive and grab an ice cream cone. One of our absolute favorite activities, though we haven’t done it in quite awhile now, is to go to the shooting range together. Call us crazy, but we just enjoy doing things together, even things as crazy as shooting guns and yelling to each other over the sound of the blasts hitting targets.
One of the hardest parts of our marriage, or marriage in general really, is accepting the other when they change. It’s inevitable. We are absolutely not the same people we were in high school and definitely not the same people each other originally fell in love with. Do we still resemble those people? Of course! But we’ve grown, evolved and changed dramatically. But what makes us different than most couples is we grew together and accepted the changes in each other with patience and acceptance.
Absolutely not. 14.5 years with someone, especially when we were both only teenagers when we met, means we matured and became adults together. Most couples do not survive this type of transition simply because it is such a tremendous one. Think about how immature you were at the age of 16; all the things you know now that you didn’t then. Or all the things you knew then but now know better. See what I mean?
We’ve had our ups and downs; our huge, blow up fights and nights we cried ourselves to sleep (well, that was mostly me, but you get the picture!) We’ve had weeks where we just bickered at each other endlessly and then weeks when we couldn’t get enough of the other. We went from buried in debt and unemployed to buying a house, cars and working successful full time jobs.
We even have made it through the incredibly hard diagnosis of Neonatal Monogenic Diabetes in our youngest son, who’s still only a year old. Just this year we’ve struggled to make ends meet as we cut down to just one income due to our son’s medical condition. Most couples fall apart when money is thrown into the mix; we flourish. Our greatest strength, I’d say, is sticking together and staying strong through tough times, knowing better times will come. We don’t blame or point fingers, we accept what is and continue to strive for better - together.
I can’t pretend to be an expert on marriage and I definitely won’t try to! But being only 29 years old with a relationship that’s lasted nearly 15 years, I do have some pointers that I’d love to share!
I can’t pretend we haven’t almost fallen apart at times from lack of communication and so I stand here now telling you just how important it is. Don’t hide things. Don’t hide the Amazon packages or the credit card bills or the new dress you just had to have; tell your husband/wife! Don’t assume you know what they’ll say; share your excitement in the tangible things you had to have and talk through how you’re going to pay that credit card bill instead of hiding it. It may sound very bold, but don’t hide ANYthing. One small lie leads to subsequent larger lies, until you find you’re hiding more than you’re sharing.
It’s easy to get into bed at night, exhausted from the day, and just lay next to each other, reading a book or flipping through your phone. While that may be ok for a few minutes, after awhile it can lead to overwhelming feelings of loneliness. Seems silly when they’re right next to you… but after awhile whatever it is that’s stealing your attention away from your partner, who is literally right next to you, becomes blatantly obvious. Connect with each other, all electronics and distractions aside. Before the TV goes on or the books come out, TALK (remember that whole communication thing?!). If you get time away from the kids to do something, take advantage of it! GO OUT and enjoy an activity you both like together. Reconnect as a couple instead of just being parents.
Again, another piece of marriage that might just fall through the cracks if not done often. It’s far too easy to take each other for granted; trust me, we know! With 3 kids, someone always needs something and as a couple, we too often just assume the other is going to do certain things. So here we go, bringing that ever-important communication bit into play - talk through the tasks and to-do lists. And after communication, express appreciation. Thank him/her for doing the dishes or a load of laundry instead of just expecting it’s going to be done. That’s one less thing you have to do; make sure you know he/she is appreciated! Take the time to thank him/her for working the long day they did to bring in income for the family or thank him/her for taking such good care of the kids, the house and EVERY as it may sometimes seem) else that as done solo. Being thanked can’t be done enough as long as it is genuine. I can’t tell you how much rejuvenation it gives me to hear a “thank you” or “wow, you did great” after a long day of running around and taking care of the kiddos. It really goes a long way; appreciation is an essential part of marriage!