16 years ago, ‘No Doubt’ and ‘Third Eye Blind’ blared through my car stereo. Any extra money I found was spent on CD’s and snowboarding. Having fun meant skipping college classes when the snow was good so my friends and I could play in the powder. That was the life!
16 years ago, I ditched a date so I could go play. And that same day I saw a very good-looking kid eating chili in a bread bowl in the ski resort’s cafeteria. He was taking a break from the powder at the same time I was. He was the only one snowboarding with his friends and so was I. That screams destiny, doesn’t it?
I introduced myself (not something I did often), and we spent the rest of the day ditching our friends and playing on the slopes together. A lot of ditching going on right? Well, sometimes it’s okay to ditch.
It turns out we really were destined for each other. We instantly became best friends which eventually led to our marriage commitment 4 years later. We never fought, we never once regretted our decision and we never looked back on life wishing we were still single. We were two fiercely independent people who figured a way to merge that independence into a really fun adventure. We traveled all over, moved to Spain for a summer, did the college thing together and worked hard at everything we did.
I remember when we were married, we would repeatedly get advice from others about how we would need to “work” on a marriage in order to make a marriage work. They made marriage sound like a job that required punching a time-card, but never being able to “punch out.” No lunch breaks, no sick days, just work. Marriage was work. I didn’t get it. How was getting to spend the rest of my life with this awesome person like dooming myself to a job that would constantly require work? How do you even work on a marriage, I thought. I just didn’t understand.
After 4 more years of playing and honeymooning, we welcomed our first child.
Oh….I think I know now what they were talking about.
I quit my job. I stayed home all day. My independence had to make a shift to the other side called dependence. Ewwww….I didn’t like that feeling. I think I’d rather run barefoot over a pile of burning coals than have to depend on someone else.
Exit honeymoon, enter adjustment.
Two years after that, our second was born. Between diapers, meals, finances, mortgages, yards, grad school, loneliness and all the other components involved with raising small children I realized that “work” was definitely going to be something needed in order to survive this new selfless yet oddly fulfilling life.
I was still madly and insanely in love with my husband, but hard times would seep through the walls and I wasn’t quite sure how we would deal with them. We weren’t accustomed to punching time cards. Our 7th year got itchy and stressful. And we realized that we would both have to draw on the fun times we had in the past to remind us that we still belonged together.
And you know what? Thank goodness for hard times! As itchy and hard as those few years were, we learned a lot about what was needed to keep the love alive, especially now that we were sharing our hearts with these new little people. I really, truly understood what “work” had to go in to our marriage to make it work. Good news is that working is fun and we saw that not working…wasn’t any fun. I learned valuable lessons that have gotten us better prepared for the long stretch. I know we have a ton of lessons still in the bag to learn, and we’re basically getting started, but hey, it’s been a fun adventure thus far, I think I can handle some more (as long as he does the dishes, takes the garbage out and tells me how beautiful and skinny I am when I’m 8 months pregnant, that is!)
We are close to celebrating our 12th anniversary, so here are 12 things I’ve learned that help to keep the love alive while having kids.
(DISCLAIMER: Obviously everyone has a different situation, different relationship, etc…and I’m not being general here. These are some of the things that keep us married while we’re deep in the trenches of parenthood.)
What do you do to keep the love alive in your relationship?
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