Let’s Get Real

Rocky. MomsicleBlog

I’ve been hiding behind pictures and interviews for a while, and not talking about the raw parts of life—those bits that we all share but don’t share on Facebook.

For our fifth anniversary my husband and I went to marriage counseling.

He found a therapist, and after we got massages to celebrate our anniversary, we went to sit on her couch.

We went to see a therapist not because our marriage is on the rocks—in fact I would say that it’s the strongest it’s been. But the reason it’s strong is because we’ve hurled huge stones at it and had to find a way to protect it from the onslaught.

It’s strong. Like the skin on the bottom of your feet is strong.

But you don’t say that your calluses are the most beautiful parts of your body. Even if you think they are because they show your endurance, you sand them down while putting blush on your cheeks.

***

So these five years got me thinking. I recently heard Casey Affleck describing his movie “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” as the story of how a relationship grows from romanticism into real life.

Romanticism into Real Life.

You’ll enter Real Life after college, everyone said.

And I did, and I discovered Real Life was romantic: It was a wonderful circus of friends and road trips and faith and work and deep connections. And I was good at it.

It’s always been easy for me to connect with people. Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve woven together a strong net of relationships to support me should I fall.

So the minor blisters of Real Life were nothing in comparison to the tasting menus it would serve up.

There was one thing, though.

Loneliness.

But we found each other, my husband and I.

And together we’re good at this thing. We’re resilient. We built a little house to protect ourselves from the huffing and puffing of Real Life.

And five years ago if I’d heard you talking about how a relationship changes from romanticism into Real Life, I would have nodded while adding seismic protection to my little house and secretly thinking, the romanticism can’t be shaken out of my real life.

But here I am five years later sitting on a therapist’s couch, and realizing Real Life isn’t a success or failure sort of thing. It’s not something I’m good at. It’s a survival thing. It’s endurance. And there’s nothing sexy or romantic about that.

Mortgages strain you. People die. Families break apart around you. Children drain the blood from your face and leave you pale and ashen.

It doesn’t matter if you’re good at Real Life. At some point your reserves will be depleted and you’ll be exhausted, and you need more fuel for the road. And that’s when it’s nice to sit on someone else’s couch.

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11 responses to “Let’s Get Real

  1. Wow I really needed this post. I have been married almost 6 years and have started to forget why I got married. It is just like you said real life has set in. We have been through 2 job layoffs for him, putting our house up for short sale and moving to a tiny apartment all in one year. Boy does that change things. I guess through it all you have to reflect on what it was that made you fall in live in the first place. But through this rough year we have emerged strong, there Are still parts that are broken but we will get there I hope. What are some things you can suggest to get though the rough patch and find that love again. I live my husband I just feel like we are not connecting. Thanks Evelyn

  2. Renee, first, a really big hug to you. Some struggles become commonplace and you forget you need a hug for them. I was thinking about your question, and I think my friend who writes the blog Autism Daddy can answer you much better and more eloquently than me: http://autism-daddy.blogspot.com/2011/12/12-ways-to-keep-your-marriage-strong.html.

    He and his wife know something about keeping their marriage together through adversity! Be sure to scroll through some of the comments–I found them really interesting, as well.

    And my answer for you is cheap date nights. Sneak them in as many times as you can. Picnic, glass of wine outside, going for a hike, whatever. It’s amazing how much easier it is to talk about meaty things and reconnect when you’re not in your physical routine.

    One more hug!

  3. life is exhausting, isn’t it? thanks for sharing this post- it’s nice to hear someone speak honestly about how HARD it all can get from time to time.

  4. amen! marriage takes work. its so easy to drown in the day-to-day of parenting and living that your spouse takes the back seat for extended periods (for, like, um, years). next month is our 14th anniversary and we’ve had a couple of times where our therapist’s couch has saved us. i know that some people see that as “embarrassing” (i still don’t get the stigma of therapy!), but i’m quite proud that we’ve done some really difficult work to keep our relationship strong. good for you guys for doing the same!

  5. So well said, Evelyn! It’s so hard to carve a carefree & fun space for a marriage under the threat of small children. I hope this is the first step towards reclaiming that space.

    I still owe you several kid-wrangling sessions, please remit at any time. 🙂

  6. Evelyn,

    Yep, real life…. really makes a person feel like a grown up. Not always fun. I loved the line about children draining you… totally true.
    We recently moved from Portland back to Boulder, CO, a move made more for my husband than me. I really was enjoying the Northwest and didn’t want to leave. That, on top of just finishing up with getting pregnant the hard way, through IVF. Thankfully it was successful, and I’m now five months along. Still, the challenges of life definitely put a strain on a relationship and it takes work and care to keep it strong. We’re almost to six years and need some help in some areas (fun, sex…) but I can say that I still like my husband and love him, too. We can work with that.
    Good for you guys. Keep it real.

    Jill

  7. emily schwartz-dale

    Oh Ev! Appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable, as always! I remember growing up, my parents (who have been together for 40+ years between dating/cohabitating/marriage), when asked the secrete to their relationship lasting through divorces throughout the rest of the family, would always answer in the MOST unromantic way. It drove me nuts as a kid because I too clung to that ideal of romanticism you referenced. Their joint answer was always that it took WORK, and MORE WORK, and then EXTRA WORK and there were times they really didn’t like each other but that at the end of the day, they communicated (at times even over-communicated! ha!) and put in the work in spite of not liking each other much. Now, in my work with couples and families, I find myself normalizing that message to couples and families all the time! 🙂 I hope we can all have this conversation more often. Thank you for bringing your own experiences into it in such a meaningful way! xoxo!

  8. Thanks for posting this! I have always found it entirely odd that there are so many mom blogs that talk about how hard it is to raise children but not the adjustment required of the marriage!?! What a life change to go from two doe-eyed about-to-be-parents to parents! It requires so much work. Good for you for taking the time for that work, and for being such a valuable voice of honesty in these interwebs!

  9. So true! Loved your post. Thanks.

  10. Pingback: Let’s Talk About the Darkness | momsicle

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