This coming January, my husband and I will be celebrating 13 years together. There’s a world of emotion and endless stories wrapped up in that one single sentence alone; so much so that I wouldn’t even know where to begin when explaining just how hard — and yet how amazing — marriage can be. But somehow, a recent post by Whitney Fleming from Playdates on Fridays manages to nail the intimate complexities of marriage in one fell swoop.
Fleming’s post, which is quickly going viral, starts out with a sucker punch of an opening line: “Sometimes I want to give up on this.”
I’ll be honest, she grabbed my attention right out of the gate with that one, and I couldn’t help but read on:
“Sometimes I want to give up on the stability, the memories, the relationship built on 22 years,” Fleming continued. “Sometimes I want to leave the man who gets frustrated too easily or often doesn’t see the world the way I do or still leaves the toilet seat up upon occasion. Sometimes I crave a simpler life, one without conflict or obligation or concessions. Because sometimes marriage is just hard, too hard to see it through to the end.”
I’ve had my fair share of days when I honestly wondered if I would see old age as a single lady; when I wondered if happiness in matrimony was a myth. Like a lot of young women, I was exceedingly wrapped up in the romance of a wedding, but didn’t fully realize the heaviness of “until death do us part”. Then again, who really does at that stage of life?
“I don’t think anyone truly appreciates how hard marriage is until you actually do it,” Fleming tells Babble. “I would offer two pieces of advice: There are a million things in life that will tear you apart: kids, jobs, in-laws, politics, illness, pets, housework, etc., but you need to hold on to that one thing that bonds you. Whatever that is — long walks, watching Netflix, working out, sex — hold on to that and never let it go. When two people have something they enjoy doing together, where they can laugh, I think they can endure anything. The second piece of advice is never run out of grace for your partner. Give it freely and abundantly.”
Her Facebook post eloquently describes the struggle of daily living with the ever-shifting priorities and entangled wants and needs of a marriage with kids.
“Certainly, it is the three young faces that stare back at me over the family dinner table,” she writes. “It may be the fear of living a life without a partner. Perhaps it is the complications of separating two intertwined lives. It would not be uncommon or unusual. I’ve watched couples disintegrate before my eyes because of tragedy or betrayal, and other unions slowly rip at the seams because two people grew apart or sought different lives.”
In those few lines it becomes pretty clear that as a marriage grows, so to does the weight of responsibility, making the once warm glow of romantic ties harder to recognize.
“I believe a good marriage is when two people walk side by side in life, but that is harder than it seems,” Fleming tells Babble. “Sometimes I feel like I’m running to catch up, or he is desperately trying to grab me before I take off somewhere else. Love is a verb, and it also is a choice.”
My husband and I sometimes feel like we’re fighting exhaustion just to make time for each other. We have dry spells that last months, but we also have three small kids who need every inch of our combined attention. So I completely understood what Fleming means when she tells Babble that her “favorite thing in the whole world is to sit outside with my husband drinking a glass of wine in front of our fire pit,” and how she finds love and appreciation for her husband in the everyday ways that he makes her life better.
“He makes me laugh and sings to the radio off-key,” she adds. “I like to watch him play soccer with my girls and [see] how tender he is with them as they go through the tween/teen years. And even though he can’t stand the dog I brought into our home, it warms my heart to see him sleep with him when he thinks I’m not looking. Are those moments worth the tough times? Absolutely, without a doubt. This season of marriage is harder than I ever imagined, so I choose to find the good in him. Sometimes we’re so busy that it’s harder to find, but it’s always there.”
The last line of this beautiful post brought me to tears. Fleming very poignantly describes how everyday in marriage is a choice and that even though some days are teeth-grindingly tough, she still chooses to stay present with her husband.
“Because although I’m in the season of marriage that is difficult and exhausting and hard,” she explains, “in these pictures and in this life, there is always a new reason to fall in love with this man all over again. So, in those times when I want to give up on this, I am reminded that for our marriage ‘joy cometh in the morning,’ as it always does. As I hope it always will.”
Marriage is more than just hard; it brings out our deepest truths — whether we like it or not — through the challenge of living every single day with a person we choose to be with. But perhaps that’s where its greatest beauty lies after all.