After spending a lovely Friday evening at an outdoor Eric Clapton concert with Dave and R (marred only by the drive home thru a frightening storm/tornado combo that left ¼ inch of water on our new kitchen floor and somehow violently murdered all of the fish in our fish tank – sniff, sniff), we set off Saturday morning for a wedding in suburban Chicago, not far from my peeps in Aurora.

The wedding was beautiful. The weather was perfect, the bride ravishing, the groom appropriately sober. It was a great party, and some horrible bartender really misjudged my ability to take in alcohol and dreadfully over-served me. Or maybe I just over-ordered.

As Dave and I get older, the weddings we attend are fewer and further between (is that grammatically correct?), and I grow more and more circumspect. There was a time when I would go to weddings with an eye toward stealing ideas or seeing what didn’t work. After my own wedding was over, I was so happy that another couple would be as happy as we were.

Now, things are a little different. We’ve been married nearly six years, together for nearly a decade, and we’re parents. Not that any of those things make us experts at marriage or even really good at it. Sometimes I feel like we suck at it. But we keep doing it.

I watched Dave’s fraternity brother repeat his vows (couldn’t hear them over the noise of the golf cart carrying the kegs), and I thought they had no idea what they were in for. I certainly didn’t when I stood before those I held dear and said I’d spend the rest of my days and nights with this man. I would even say I still don’t know. But I know marriage is a little different than I thought it would be September 21, 2002.

Back then, I heard everybody say that marriage would be a lot of work. I knew that. I just didn’t know exactly what that meant. And I don’t know what that will mean in the future. But now, I know it means that sometimes I don’t even like him. And sometimes I don’t like who I am because of the way I treat him. Sometimes I am a bitch. Sometimes he is an asshole. We are both stubborn people, and, unfortunately for him, he is the only person in the world with whom I feel comfortable being confrontational.

Sometimes, I feel like parenting has brought out the worst in our relationship. Our patience is worn thin, we’re exhausted, we have little (no) time to just hang out and be ‘Dave and Michelle.’ Our time and attention is focused on R, leaving hardly any time for each other or ourselves. Slightly different parenting philosophies and mommy guilt don’t help.

But we love each other. And we try. And we work. And we live each day together, even the ones in which we want to kill each other, knowing that tomorrow will be a new challenge that we face together. So, newlyweds, my advice would be to live it up now. This is the easy part.

And I’m willing to take my own advice, too – I know that things aren’t likely to get any easier from here on out. We will face different tests and climb different hills. But we face them together, hands firmly locked together and eyes toward the same horizon.

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9 Responses to lockstep

  1. Mandy says:

    So right on, Michelle!
    My husband and I are coming up on 9 years of wedded bliss (snort) and 12 years together. I feel the exact. same. way.
    Also, I felt so sorry for all the concert goers Friday for their trip home!! Glad to see you made it home safely, but sorry to hear about your home troubles! Oh no!

  2. Sarah says:

    I love my son and would not trade him for the world (really!), but I do often wish that maybe we had waited. Just a tad longer. And that was my choice. But I do wish we had more time to be just the two of us before we were three.

  3. Christina says:

    Word! Every last bit of that could have come from my own mouth. Except I would have throw in some bit about why he feels its necessary to throw his dental floss in the TOILET, and other habits that drive me nuts.
    Its work, it sucks, but its awesome to have someone to love and hate and at the end of the day your feet have company under the covers and thats just the right amount of perfect.

  4. I think you need to start carving out time for yourselves. R needs two parents who are happily married more than she needs your attention 100%. Weekend trips once a quarter, weekly nice dinners out, dates make a huge difference.

    We do monthly goals. We sit down and for 20 minutes we each talk about what we want for the upcoming month and how the last month went. I keep a journal. Then I make little cards that have our monthly goals on them. D keeps his in his wallet and I have mine by my desk. We started this when I worked 100 hours a week and have just kept it up.

    I know it sounds trivial or small, but this helps us support each other in our challenges for the month. Try it. I bet Dave will love it.

  5. vixensden says:

    It gets easier and it gets harder. It is impossible to explain how you can continue to care so much about a person who on some days you can’t stand so bad you wish you never had to see them again. And this after 26 years of marriage this August and being together for 30.

    I will say, in my opinion, it is a harder job (marriage) during the years you are raising children. Being responsible for someone’s life is hard work and takes a lot of your attention and effort. As your kids get older and become self-sufficient you can begin to once again focus on each other. It’s almost like falling in love all over again!

    You seem to have a good handle on it and a great positive attitude, which combined with love should get you through!

  6. Ah, we need to hang out…so much in common.
    We went to a wedding in Florida a few months ago and I was not having a happy week beign a wife (or pregnant, really) and I kind of walked out of the reception and left my husband behind. I felt so cynical about marriage and pissy about how grand life had been back in the lovey-dovey days, pre-children and disappointment, etc.
    Like you, this is not to say I’m unhappy with my choice of husband or to have a family…it just gets so damned complicated.

    And the fish? Terrible! Did they die of fright?

  7. Jennifer says:

    I really love this post. I completely identify…weddings used to make me feel so happy and blissful, now they make me feel a little melacholy for the loss of my own “the way it used to be” relationship. The worst truly can be brought out as a result of parenting.

  8. I’m the same way. I use to be so happy for people when I heard they got engaged and cried at their wedding.

    Now I want to offer condolences to the newly engaged couple and cry because they have no idea what 10 years of marriage and kids will do to relationships. My husband’s co-worker, married 2 years, are talking of having kids soon. I practically yell at them DON’T DO IT YET!

    Our kids are 7 and 5 and we’re coming out of that fog of babies and starting to see ourselves as a couple again. Um, it’s a bumpy ride right now!

  9. suze says:

    Good stuff to know (as I am getting married in a little less than two months time). Funny, no one really tells you this as you head to the alter…

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