My husband and I will celebrate 14 years of marital bliss this coming winter. Of course, the term “bliss” is up for interpretation, because as anyone who’s been married for more than a minute can tell you, marriage takes a ton of work. Nicole Johnson, the voice behind the blog Suburban Sh*t Show, knows exactly what I mean. In a recent Facebook post that’s going viral, Johnson shared an intimate and poignant reminder about marriage that everyone who has ever said their vows can probably relate to.
In the post, Johnson shares a photo of an old slip of paper with her name and phone number on it. It’s been tucked inside her husband’s wallet since the night they met, 16 years ago. The piece of paper is old and fragile now, but still intact and legible. In fact, to her knowledge, it has never left her husband’s wallet, even though he cleans it out frequently.
“This piece of who we were and where we started remains with him,” Johnson writes. “He carries us around wherever he goes.”
Pretty romantic, huh?
But what really makes this story strike at the heart is what Johnson shares next:
“We haven’t had the easiest time lately,” she continues. “I’ve been very open about that. But I also want to share this — we are trying. We’ve talked. We’ve worked. We will keep working. Because it’s work. It’s kids. It’s baggage. It’s anger. It’s love. It’s all of the stuff that life is. And that sh*t is hard.”
Speaking with Babble, Johnson opens up about a moment between her husband and a mutual friend, which :
“A friend who was having dinner with my husband sent me a text to let me know he’d been talking about when we first met … she wanted me to know,” Johnson shares. “These reminders give you hope when you are struggling with raising four kids, a career change (him) and returning to a full-time job (me).”
One of the hardest parts of marriage is staying on the same page when things get complicated. Not all couples are prepared to deal with the collateral damage that life can throw at you, and the realization of that can be a tough pill to swallow. Johnson agrees, and says that remembering how they first began is part of what’s pulling her and her husband through their rough patch.
“I think remembering beginnings is important, because that is really the origin, the story of who you once were as a couple, and if you look — [it’s] probably who you still are,” Johnson explains. “We just forget because life gets complicated. It’s like stripping away to the base. I think it’s important for all married couples to do. Just as important as date nights and communicating.”
Johnson doesn’t claim to have marriage all figured out, but she does have some salient points of advice I think we could all learn from — starting with a plea for us all to drop the charades, already. Because those filtered version of our lives we share on Facebook and Instagram all the time? They aren’t helping anyone.
“Let other people know if you are having problems, [because] many friends are going through the same things,” Johnson urges other couples. “When we fake and perpetuate perfect, we set ourselves up for failure and don’t allow ourselves to admit that we need help.”
(Amen to THAT.)
“No marriage is perfect, nor should it be,” she continues. “We don’t have to go it alone. In the world of perfect Instagram images and beautiful Facebook posts we forget this — sometimes it’s impossible not to. I want to fill the feeds with real and raw posts about marriage, motherhood, and midlife.”
Marriage sure is a beautiful adventure, but no one ever said it was an easy one. When things get tough, remembering the parts that made your heart sizzle, remembering that you’re not alone, and remembering to be patient and kind with your own heart might just be the answer to getting you through those rough patches.