You know what you get when you put three ladies in one hotel room? Husband talk. Yep, it took until the wee hours of the last night, but after a whirlwind conference and days of shooting city photos, we finally let loose about our lives as wives.
The conversation was funny because none of us wanted to complain outright as we all acknowledge our men are relatively great and we would never trade them. It was also clear we were each painfully aware of our grand expectations and how no mere mortal could possibly reach them all. Yet, despite all our reasonable acceptance, there was an awful lot of oye veying going on in that room Saturday night (ahem, Sunday morning). There were no major marital problems, but at times we all felt taken for granted and perhaps last on the list of household priorities. Maybe it was the freedom of three days of only taking care of ourselves. Maybe it was the energy of Manhattan. Whatever the culprit, we all realized we had a right to feel refreshed and important. We just had to figure out how without trashing our husbands in the process.
Everyone warns you (or at least they did me) that marriage is work. Everyone tells you you’ll have to communicate through life changes and opportunities as well stagnation. I knew marriage was something that wouldn’t always come easy. What I didn’t realize, and it sounded like my roommates share this sometimes too, is how much my own identity journey would affect my marriage.
Now I can’t speak for my roommates on this, but for me-motherhood brought some major changes. When I met my husband we were perfectly compatible. We shared ideas of how life would work. We knew we wanted kids and while I thought I’d work I didn’t have the professional drive that he did. I wanted to be accomplished but if motherhood meant taking time away from that for a bit I was alright with that. Then I had my babies and everything changed. While that may sound obvious to you it took me totally by surprise. I was sure of who I was before kids and I knew what I wanted from life. Then I became a mom and I had a growth spurt like and 8 year old boy.
It did not happen right away, as sleep exhaustion prohibits any growth for some time, but when the changes came they erupted like a volcano. There was no smooth transition or easing into the new me. I may have questioned every decision I made as a parent, but I gained confidence from making the big ones. My world views have expanded while my priorities have a more narrow focus. My sense of responsibilty has matured right along side my sense of accomplishment. Raising children has given me the courage to pursue dreams with vigor that can only come from wanting to be a role model. I want the world for my kids and feel the only way they’ll have it is if I teach them how to go after their goals with all their heart and still protect themselves in the process. Being a mother is powerful and it is that power that has caused me to change my mind about who I am and what I am capable of. I think I can take on the world but I know I can’t do it alone because my own world has three extra citizens and they needed their dinner made.
Here’s the rub: I quit my job to stay home with my kids but quickly realized I needed more and motherhood gave me the new found confidence to pursue more. Being a mom has given me the courage to explore exciting avenues and the self-awareness to know what I need to keep fueled for the exploration. The problem is the very ambition that attracted me to my husband from day one precludes him from jumping in to help navigate my journey. So when my husband works the same many hours he always has it now looks (to my eyes) like he’s putting his career before mine when in fact he’s not even aware I might want one again. Do I have a right to be angry? Does he have a right to be angry right back? Do I have a right to expect more from him? Does he have a right to resent these expectations? After all, I changed the game and didn’t really let him in on it.
These are the times it may be easy to quit. These are the times where the phrase “we’ve grown apart” make so much sense. These are the times one wonders if there is someone else better suited for the new you. Yet that’s not an option for me and I’m banking on it still not being an option for him. We meant the part about ’till death do us part. So now we have to figure out a way to keep going until that day comes. We need to find a new balance. We need to be honest about who we are becoming and figure out our new identity as a couple when the parts of the whole are different than they once were. We have to work. I have to ask for help and he has to listen. I know he will, because along with ambition, I was attracted to the compassion and the kindness that I am certain are still there. I just need to give them a chance to shine. Then, I need to plan another getaway with my girls because that might be the best solution yet.
This post was inspired by the book The Stuff That Never Happened which is an incredible story of a marriage and all the twists and turns therein. How ultimately, it is up to us to decide the success or failure of the relationships we choose and it is in the remembering why we chose them that we find our truth. I received a free copy as a member of the From Left to Write Book Club. I am so thrilled to have had Maddie Dawson write this story to remind me of such things. See honey, it wasn’t just another “bad marriage book”.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.