The truth is, Marriage can be shit. Even a good marriage like mine.
It takes willpower, compromise and a whole lot of love and patience.
I was 14 and my husband was 17 when we first met and have always had an enviable relationship.
Recently though we found we were having regular heated squabbles, mostly because I’m a raging hormonal bitch because “on Wednesdays we wear pink” ifyouknowwhatimean wink nudge PMS, and my husband “can’t do anything right”, well he can I just don’t see it at the time.
So what was happening to make us squabble?
I was trying to work out the reasons for our bickering after being together for 15 years and 9 married with barely a bump in the road. I thought about what made us work up until 18 months ago and came to realise 6 very important things we were doing but have been failing to do recently.
- Don’t have kids.
Kidding! (maybe… ok i’m kidding)
1. There is ALWAYS time for sex, if you have no time then make time.
I’m trying my best to not sound like an over-sharing sex ed book but in the words of Noah Levenstein (American Pie movie) “sex is a perfectly normal and perfectly natural thing”.
Parents are exhausted from wearing the many hats that comes with having children, working, and running the household, that they might think sex is ok to take off the list of important things to do. It isn’t. It’s such an important component to having a happy marriage so lets make sure it stays in the top three of the list, ok?
If you’re the one always asking for special cuddles, this doesn’t mean you get to pester your partner for some lovin. They will need to be treated with kindness and love to want to give up their precious sleep time to do the deed. Make it worth their while (Housework done, dinner cooked and foreplay would probably do the trick… or a quickie, let them choose) and I will stop short of guaranteeing they will make it worth your while too.
If you’re making excuses as to why you’re not in the mood, throw those excuses in the bin and hop to it. Sex is amazing! Otherwise the problem may be deeper, of which i suggest perhaps some counselling to help you work through it.
2. Being honest is easier than hiding the truth.
Marriage can be shit when there are lies.
Come clean to each other, set boundaries and rules you both agree on, stick to it. Has anyone seen the movie ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’? It was basically a documentary of my life.
I was battling a shopaholic monster with multiple credit cards. In early 2013, after 7 years of marriage we found we were expecting our first child together. We were SO delighted but with a baby on the way it was no longer about us anymore.
It was time for me to stop acting like a spoilt little girl and grow up.
I told my husband about the debt and risked the possibility of seeing the end of my marriage for lying to him about something quite significant, but he handled it like a true gentleman. Of course he was raging mad and rightly so, but we sat down and talked about it, laid out some ground rules and paid down the debts all before bubs arrival.
Going from such a low point in our marriage, barely surviving on 2 full time incomes to having a baby and being able to stay home with our son for 15 months with only one wage supporting the family, mortgage and bills, was truly a credit to my husband and I coming together in a circumstance that should have torn us apart.
3. Marriage is like my ass, it needs constant exercise.
I know we’ve all read this advice somewhere before but it’s true. We are so fixated on the perfect wedding day, the perfect flower choices, the perfect photographer, the perfect venue blah, blah, blah but we forget about the ACTUAL marriage after the big day.
It’s not like a childhood tale with a happy ending, marriage needs a workout every day. It’s a constant hard slog at cardio (talking) and weights (understanding). Situations change like jobs, babies, needs, wants, likes and dislikes and so your marriage needs to adjust to accommodate these changes.
Talk your problems out each day, honestly and respectfully and put down your bloody phones and talk (My husband tells me this ALL. THE.TIME).
You don’t always need to have the last say in every argument, something I am still working on myself.
Learn when to back off and accept that you may not always be right (even if clearly you are). If you’re having a disagreement over issues that are not detrimental to the health or wellbeing of any living being then try this; When the conversation is going around in circles and becoming heated say something like;
“Let me just grab a glass of wine, I want to hear more”
“Do you want some chocolate?”
“Let’s make an antipasto plate and eat in the pantry together away from the kids”
“lets drink wine”.
And just listen. Take it on board. Act on any improvements that can be made or continue the discussion until you both agree on a solution, if not, try give it some more space.
(In case you didn’t notice, the answer for everything is almost always food and/or wine. Coffee and chocolate are also permissible.)
5. Affection begets affection
Whilst it could be said this should fall under the first rule of ‘Always make time for sex’, affection doesn’t necessarily need to be sex. People told my husband and I off all the time because we always kissed regardless of who was around, and it made them uncomfortable. Nowadays this is something we rarely do and to be honest, I miss it.
Who says you can’t be affectionate in public when you have wrinkles, kids or grey hair? Fuck em they’re just jealous. Kissing, cuddling and holding hands should feel and be normal with your partner no matter where you are or how often you do it, or if you’re gay, hetero, bi or whatever (why label it?).
I hear people around me complaining about their partner not buying them flowers anymore or not writing poems, not leaving silly love notes etc. Could it be because they themselves have stopped showing affection? Give and you shall receive…
6. Remember to be an individual before being a spouse or a parent.
Marriage can be shit if you don’t allow for ‘me time’.
Discuss the family schedule with your partner and work in where you can both have some ‘me’ time, whether it’s to work out, take up a dancing lesson, play golf, read a book or catch up on sleep. There are 168 hours in a week, surely you can both negotiate one hour each to have some important alone time away from the distractions of everyday family life.
I hope this helps if you think you have a shit marriage.
Has this list helped you? What would you add to it?
*It should be known that I am in no way a professional marriage counsellor, this is purely my own personal reflection and opinion based on my circumstances. You should seek professional advice if you are concerned about your marriage. If you need someone to talk to, please call Life line 13 11 14 (Australia) where there are always people who will be there for you if you are feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, dealing with abuse and trauma or having suicidal thoughts.