Thursday, August 04, 2005

The ebbs and flows of the big M

A new bloggin' pal of mine wrote today of her sadness at a good friend's marriage failing and the shock at the number of friends lately who have babies or small kids at home whose spouses are leaving them or marriages are falling apart. And it really got me to thinking about the nature of marriage and the real peaks and valleys I have seen in my 13 years of wedded bliss.

First of all, the truth is, marriage is not always blissful and perfect. And, the main point my bloggin' pal made was that she thinks women unconsciously transfer a lot of their attention and focus onto the new baby that they used to give their spouse, and then feel surprised when the spouse then detaches or wants to leave the relationship. In many ways, I can see this as true. But, I don't always think this is something women are conscious of until sometimes it is too late. Not too long after I had my son, a casual conversation with my husband about this made me realize this was happening with us. And even still, there are times when I am guilty of not appreciating him enough. I give the goodnight kisses to the kids and the hugs when they are down or hurt. But, I don't turn and give him the same ones when he needs them at times and I should. And, for that, I truly feel sorry.

But, one thing I don't always think men completely understand is just how very tired we moms/wives/women get with all of this caretaking--even if it comes as second nature to us. Sometimes, we just feel like there isn't anything else to give. That's not fair, I realize. But that's how it is at times. And it isn't a statement of our lack of love for our husbands, it is just exhaustion, plain and simple. I'm not sure yet how to get past this exhaustion, but I'd love to hear if you have any suggestions!

Aside from this though, I also feel like marriage inherently has its highs and lows. I know mine has. And, I think these turning points in marriages happen every few years or at key moments. For example, after I had been married about five years, I had three of my closest girlfriends all get divorced within a few years of each other. We'd all been married around five years, had no kids yet, and were kind of coming into our own career-wise. All of us got married right after or during college. And, it freaked me out completely while this was going on for many reasons. (Incidentally, all of these women have come through divorce with such wisdom about what happened and have changed significantly in terms of what they want in a spouse/life. A few have remarried, and the spouses they chose were quite different from their previous ones.)

While all of this was going on with my friends, I was in a difficult place at home as well. My husband had traveled a ton the previous year and then stopped. Looking back now, we did learn a lot from that experience, and I'm glad he did that early in our marriage before we did have kids. We both became more independent during this time. When my husband was gone five days a week for almost a year, I became more social and set aside my shyness. I asked girlfriends to movie nights out, dinners, and went to happy hours with friends and coworkers. I learned that I could, in fact, live on my own and survive. (For me, this was a revelation. I went from dating my high school sweetheart, to meeting my spouse, to dating him all through college, and then to getting married just after graduating.)

I did need a little companionship, which came by way of my new kitten, Simba. My husband said he figured out he doesn't LIKE to travel for work and he grew very tired of eating out and hotel rooms. The hours were much longer than working in an office and he burned out quickly on this type of career.

And, now I'm seeing another turning point in a lot of marriages. That is, those of us who waited awhile to have kids and devoted ourselves to our marriages and careers. Now, we're all having babies and it is a big adjustment for our families. And, I'm seeing some struggling going on with my friends in this relationship boat. Some are sinking, and others are swimming like hell to stay afloat. And it is scary to watch and also realize that I, too, am finding myself on rough waters at times lately in my marriage.

I don't know if it is just the nature of personalities when they couple off to have these waves of difficult times and miscommunication, or if it is God's way of testing us or sending us a message we need to hear. All that I know is that I fully expect for the answer to that to come to me at one point or another after the waters have calmed. And, if past history is any indication of things, I know too that I will emerge a stronger person who is more assured of my life and the paths I have chosen to take--no matter what the outcome.

Now, something silly to add before I turn in--if you are a woman having a hard time in a relationship or in life, I challenge you to play these three cheesy 80s songs in your headphones and tell me if they don't pick YOU up:

Jump for My Love - The Pointer Sisters
Gloria - Laura Branigan
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor

It worked for me! G'night all!


Blogger Carol said...

You are a great writer...I only had time to read this post and the one about your track experience and I'm hooked. We sound like similar people. Thanks for the one on marriage. I was just talking about this with a friend and my husband. We all struggle and assummed it was because we had kids very quickly. It's nice to hear that others who had time to establish the foundation of their marriages also struggle. Not nice, but you know what I mean. I think that kids just rock your world so much that you have to stay in touch SO much. thanks.

6:47 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Wow- I can't believe how often our thoughts coincide. After I talked to my friend the other day, I was trying to come up with something to do for her and came up with a mix CED. The first song on my list was "I Will Survive".
Funny we both turn to music to symbolize our emotions.
I think everything you wrote here is right on the money. I think about marriage a lot as a second wife- I'm consumed with making it work. So is my husband. We think it's nice to have a shared obsession!
I'm meeting my friend today at the mall, so I'm sure I'll have plenty to blog about later!

9:56 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

CED? How did that happen? Obviously, meant to type CD!

9:56 AM, August 05, 2005  

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