Where does marriage fit into your life? Do you choose your spouse every day? How do you keep your marriage strong? There are some days, weeks, even months where it feels like Edwin and I are roommates who co-exist under one roof – both raising our children, working, playing with the dogs, doing all the things that keep a household and a home going. I’ve had this conversation with a handful of women who echo the same sentiments. Life is really busy and children make it so much busier. In Edwin’s and my life together, at the foundation of our family and our busy life is our marriage. Yet, it can be hard to give our marriage the attention it deserves sometimes. Why, why, why?
Where Does Marriage Fit Into Your Life?
While I’m still relatively fresh into the decade of my 30s (I am 32) and I’m writing from the perspective of here and now instead of the perspective of looking back on the decade and what life looked like then, I can still see what so many parents from all generations say – it is a busy, happy, blur where sleep is fleeting, highs and lows are aplenty, troubleshooting is a daily practice, growth is never ending (of oneself, career, family, and home).
And there is a constant pull to determine what takes priority in the here and now between the daily nuances of raising kids and the 24-hour cycle of work that doesn’t shut off outside of the hours of 9-5 (a reality that has, in my opinion, unfortunately become the norm). So, I wonder, where does marriage fit in and, not just marriage, but keeping a marriage alive, strong, fun, and flourishing?
I hope I never fall victim to ceasing to evolve, grow, learn, and change.
But, while I want that for my own self as an individual and a mother, I deeply want to evolve and grow within my marriage as well. I do not want a marriage that consists of two people who evolve independently and then wake up one day to realize we are two different people than the people we met years ago and we did the game of life next to each other but not with each other. I can see so clearly how it happens, especially in our hustle culture.
My parents (below with Rowan and Henry) have done it right but they are the first to admit that it didn’t just happen that way – it took work, effort, patience, grace, and looking both back and forward to get to where they are now, approaching their 35th wedding anniversary this summer. They raised three children, worked in and outside the home, changed careers, were caretakers to their parents at times, moved, the list goes on. Yet, from my perspective, they chose to do this with each other instead of walking through the daily ins and outs of family + career separate but together. As one half of a young married couple with a family, I feel it is humbling to see couples that are decades into marriage and still choosing each other every day.
Edwin and I have been together almost 13 years with our 6th wedding anniversary later this year.
We are different in so many ways from who we were when we met in 2010 but also the same in that we still have boundless love for one another and still enjoy many of the same things we did then that continue to make us who we are now. Having children changes a person in every way. From the second you hear their first cry, everything else falls away. You go from loving your spouse the most in this world to loving them the most, second to your children.
Edwin and I tell each other to push the other in front of a moving bus if it means saving our children. When you have kids, they come first and your marriage then has to move to a different spot in the pecking order. Does it come second or does career or something else come second? Can marriage nestle in right next to kids and secure a second top billing spot?
Young children pull couples in a thousand directions but not always toward each other. We have been there, particularly when a large work project takes over Edwin’s life. We will be in it, living it, working through it and then realize, days or weeks in, that we aren’t eating dinner together, aren’t checking in with each other, aren’t doing anything together just the two of us that doesn’t involve the kids, work, or friends. We’ve felt called to recognize those times and to stop everything else to make time for each other. In my experience, having children has forced us into times where we just try to get through the day and are two ships passing in the night, not sharing life together (of course, not always, but we’ve been there).
On the flip side, having children has also grown our love to the ninth degree.
It is such an intangible type of love that we have for each other when we look at our littles who we created and get to shape every day. It is a push and pull with the demands, needs, schedules, and lack of sleep of childrearing pushing you farther away and the joys, love, bonds, and seeing the world through your children pulling you together.
In all my reflection, I’ve come to conclude that giving attention to our marriage is the same as putting our children first, just in a different way.
Children grow up feeling safe, secure, loved, cherished, adored, challenged, and respected when they grow up in a loving household where they not only feel boundless love showered onto them but they see it between their parents too (or family members at large). I think the ultimate way to teach children to live in love, be kind, be good, and be respectful is to model that for them in ourselves, with one such way being through marriage or a partnership.
Of course, some families are happier with two parents that are happier being apart than together and, I believe, those children will be happier in the long run with that family makeup as well. However, at the young stage of my family, Edwin and I can still get up every day and choose to carve out time to put our marriage first. And, I believe, in a roundabout way, that is intrinsically linked to putting our children first.
At the end of every day, week, month, and year, I want to always choose each other and find our way home to each other. Our marriage brought us our family and our family is our home. So, where does marriage fit into your life? My answer: I hope we can always remember to give it top billing.
For a lighter marriage-related post I really like, here’s fun questions to ask your significant other over a glass of wine. Edwin and I did these over a fun dinner out one night and genuinely loved the experience!