Marriage is hard.
At least, I think it is. It might just be me.
Mike and I are slowly coming around from an argument that simmered along for three days. The details of the squabble aren't important because like most arguments, what we were arguing about wasn't actually what we were mad about. No, it was a hundred injustices and perceived slights all held in, waiting to spill out when someone dares to leave a sock on the floor or forgets to drop off a library book.
If you saw us between Saturday afternoon and Tuesday evening, you probably had no idea. We are just fine and dandy in the midst of good company . . . but as soon as the audience was gone the icy silence crept in. Polite and restrained in front of the kids of course, not that they aren't smart enough to figure out that something about Mommy and Daddy is off.
Thankfully we're not yellers by nature, and after three days of holding our grudges we were too tired to play along anymore. So we lay in bed in complete darkness and put it all out there. Too tired to raise our voices or fire barbs at each other, just ready to be done with it and to hopefully learn something in the process.
And this is where I wonder if marriage really is hard, or if it's just us.
I used to love taking those quizzes in Cosmo and Oprah magazines. You'd answer the questions, tally your As,Bs, Cs and Ds and lo and behold – your deepest questions about yourself and your mate answered!
I wish there was one for the general state of a marriage. You'd answer questions like "When was your last big argument?" "How often during a typical week do you say 'I love you'" and "How many times a month do you make love?" Tally up your answers and find out whether you're destined for the Couples Hall of Fame or if it's time to start saving up for that divorce lawyer.
It's not polite to quiz your friends and acquaintances on the state of their marriage, and so we're left fumbling and wondering what a real, normal marriage looks like.
I can't imagine that it's always terribly easy for everyone. We all bring our own baggage and expectations into a marriage. It takes a lot of love and patience and energy to grow a healthy relationship between two people. I'd like to think that after a certain amount of time (almost 14 years for us!), we get a little complacent about putting in the daily kindnesses that feed a strong marriage. Slacking in that area, combined with the general exhaustion of working and parenting small children, has to take a toll.
Not that I'd wish strife upon any couple, but I'd like to think that these rough patches? They are what most couples at our age and stage are struggling with right now. That this is simply a season in a marriage, not that we're fundamentally weak as a couple – that we're not now, nor will we ever be, a truly good fit.
I feel like I can't end this piece without having it noted that none of this means we're contemplating an end to a marriage. A silly argument led to days of simmering which led to plenty of time to think about the amount of effort it takes to make a good marriage.
I take my vows seriously. If it came down to knowing ideally matched couples didn't spend the same kind of energy trying to get along? It wouldn't change anything for me. I'd gladly put the work in. Because as mismatched as we might be, as broken and stubborn as we came into this marriage? I love my husband. He takes care of me. He's an amazing father. He makes me laugh. He's great at parties.
But still, I'd like to know if it's like this for most couples.
It's like when I finally figured out that pretty much everyone I know struggles with finances a bit. It didn't make sticking to a budget or paying off our debt any more pleasant, but it made it easier to plod along knowing that we weren't the only ones. We weren't weird or doing it all wrong, we were just human. We were normal.
And so, if you're brave enough or willing to share, do you struggle too? Is it easy to love, but hard to be married? Or is it just me.