Big Daddy and I are lucky, I think. Unlike so many people we find that marriage isn’t a lot of hard work. Connecting is usually very easy for us and we enjoy the time we have with each other. I can’t really give marriage advice to people, because the path Big Daddy and I usually walk is so very, very smooth. Only one of us trips up at a time and the other one adjusts their balance and helps keep the other upright. We’ve been lucky to have 14 wonderful years walking along this way.
But, lately, things haven’t been as easy for Big Daddy and me. We spend a lot of time like ships passing in the night. We roll around from each other when it’s time to settle in for the night, each of us curled around the glow of our iPhone, missing so many opportunities to hug or kiss or talk. The phones, of course, are a small piece of our puzzle. Like so many of you, we deal with our share of every day stresses; money, bills, work, the children, family issues. Up until recently, these stressors have rolled off our backs, but lately the little things are piling up and Big Daddy and I spend a lot of time feeling we’re bailing out boats that have holes in the bottom.
It’s so easy to come to my blog and only pull back the curtains that show you the rosy, happy parts of our lips; crafts, recipes, odes to how much I love the people I live with. I think a lot of bloggers are guilty of only showing people the rosy end of things. They don’t talk about how their little darlings emptied a bottle of nail polish on the carpet or how their husband stayed out too late and had too many drinks and forgot to call home. We’re documenting our lives, but so many of us pick and choose the pieces we talk about and I know there are people who read and feel inadequate.
But that’s not the only reason I’m writing about the way Big Daddy and I have been struggling lately. I’m writing because there’s been things we’ve been doing wrong and I want to lay them out. Maybe you’ll recognize yourself and parts of your marriage there and you’ll work to fix them.
1) Big Daddy and I aren’t choosing each other lately. I wrote about this so long ago and it is still the truth. One benefit of being encased in an easy, happy marriage is that you can coast sometimes, when you need to. Like most parents of young kids (or any kids, who am I kidding?) we have to put things ahead of us and each other. The choices we make allow us the ability to put a baby’s needs ahead of our marriages without having it tumble the bricks down we’ve built up. But, we’ve been coasting too much lately. We’re spending too much time relying on the previous years of ease without adding any more to the bank.
2) We’re turning to our devices to decompress instead of each other. Our phone are our constant companions. They hold everything; pictures, phone numbers, books, entertainment, directions, calendars. It’s so easy to be so done at the end of the day that idea of opening my mouth to say one more word, that I want to mentally disconnect. I want to numb myself with games of solitaire and Facebook until I destress enough to make sleeping an option. On the other side of the bed, Big Daddy is doing the same thing. On occasion, one of us will tire of their phone and roll over to seek the other,but that person is tied up in the own world and thoughts. Big Daddy and I have enacted a new rule; No Devices When We’re Settling into Bed Together. No laptops. No phones. TV viewing is fine. Physically connecting to each other (and I’m not talking about THAT) relieves stress for both of us.
As an additional rule, I’m allowed to use devices after Big Daddy is asleep as it takes me longer to go to sleep than he, but I’m setting a rule that says my technology needs to be off by 11 so I can get to sleep at a normal time so I can get up in the morning and do the things I need to do.
3)We’re in avoidance mode. Does that happen at your house? It’s a nasty little cycle in mine. It’s so easy to be tired by daily demands. We wake up to make sure the Princess is up on time and dosed. We wake up the little girls. Baby Bee doesn’t wake up happy and someone has to get her to eat breakfast. Sometimes, the little girls fight each other or fight us. By the time we get them out the door and off to school, we’re both exhausted. We avoid things over the course of the day; the laundry goes undone, the floors go unswept and little things begin to build up. Cranky mornings frequently lead to cranky afternoons and we’re back in a nasty cycle of dinner to late, homework forgotten until after baths or worse, until the morning. My scrambling, more struggling and more avoidance until we’ve devolved into a pit of papers and dirty dishes.
I’m exaggerating a bit, of course, but I am wearing yoga pants today because I’m out of jeans and no one has had the energy to get the laundry started until this morning when it needed to be done days ago. There is benefit to being kind to yourself, to realizing that during a stressful period, you may need more down time than usual to decompress, but Big Daddy and I have been falling too far and that affects the family as a whole.
Yesterday, Big Daddy and I talked. He was supposed to be working, but we set aside a little more than an hour to talk things out. We acknowledged our short comings, we talked about our lack of intimacy (and I don’t just mean that). We talked about where we were failing and how we’re so much better than this. We talked about the dark time all those years ago when the end of us seemed to loom ahead and we had to change nearly everything to fix it before we got to the point of no return.
It’s so easy to take the one you love the most for granted, but there’s no benefit to it.