Has anyone ever told you, “Marriage is hard work”?
Well, I have. Maybe one too many times. I remember before I was married I always wanted to prove the person saying it wrong. Why? Well, because really how hard could marriage really be. You’re marrying the person you love, right!?
Well, truth be told, I was in for a rude awakening about the realities of marriage.
My husband and I have known each other since we were 14. We started dating at 17 and had a baby at 18. By the time we were 20, we were married. It’s crazy to think that within four years of dating we pretty much started our lifelong journey. What I didn’t realize back then is that we still had so much growing up to do.
I remember the first couple years of marriage were definitely an adjustment. An adjustment of living with someone that you’ve never lived with before. In our particular case, we had to take into account that we were living with his parents. We were full-time students and couldn’t afford to live on our own. So that led to one of our biggest struggles as a young married couple: arguments.
We use to have what I considered “me” arguments. Arguments that only bothered me or what I felt bothered me. I use to make a big deal about my husband playing the Xbox or wanting to go to the gym. I was feeling neglected even if we were in the same room. But, there was something more serious happening. I ended up suffering from postpartum depression. I began seeing a professional for almost two years. She helped me learn how to cope and helped my husband understand. I like to say she is the reason why we communicate better.
By the time we hit our mid-twenties, we had to endure a whole new set of challenges. The year 2015 hit us hard and our marriage took a hard punch. At the beginning of the year, everything seemed hopeful. My husband had started his career as a police officer, we were expecting our second child, my dad’s cancer was shrinking, and I had landed my first nursing job. But, those good things changed quickly.
My dad’s cancer came back more aggressively, so I decided to quit my first job. Since all my focus was on my dad, I didn’t realize how it was affecting my marriage. My husband, new to his job, began going through some pretty intense situations at work. Instead of trying to help the situation, I did the complete opposite. I ignored it. That’s when we began to grow distant. We started sleeping on opposite sides of the bed. We stopped communicating. When we would argue, it always ended in a standstill. We were just two ships passing each other . . . until one day.
That day was the day my dad stopped treatment.
All the frustration and resentment that we were feeling disappeared. For the first time in months, we relied on each other. My husband who had been in denial about my dad began to see the reality, the reality that my dad was declining fast and he missed his opportunity to spend time with him. We realized that this was a huge turning point in our relationship.
For the first time, we had to deal with a life-changing moment that affected our whole family. My dad’s passing wasn’t easy. It made my husband and I realize we had wasted so much time and energy on our selfishness that we missed out on months of happiness. My dad’s passing helped us remember the importance of family and the importance of love.
These last seven years of marriage feel like a lifetime–a lifetime that I wouldn’t change. It has made us evaluate our strengths and weaknesses. It’s helped us practice patience, demonstrate understanding, and remember to say sorry even when we don’t want to. When I think about the arguments, the frustrations, the laughs, and the cries, it reminds me that “marriage is hard work.”
Marriage is hard work that goes unappreciated most days but brings us together on the days we need it most. It also reminds me that even when we feel like there is no more hope, we always find the strength to carry on. So to my married couples out there, don’t forget that your marriage is important. We have our good days and our bad. We have our disappointments and excitements. But, always keep in mind that “marriage is hard work.”
Originally published January 2019.