My wife Sarah and I got married in our early 20’s, fresh from college with big dreams for our careers and even bigger ones for our future family. She worked as a nurse, while I was a high school teacher. The first few years weren’t exactly smooth-sailing, but we were happy and in love.
Things got hectic, bills needed to be paid, and a few years down the road the kids also appeared. It definitely took a toll on our marriage. I worked regular hours while she had to take weird shifts at the hospital. We barely talked, and even then we would only talk about the kids or to the kids. You can say that the magic of marriage quickly went down the drain when the reality caught up to us.
From Loving to Entertaining Others
I “entertained” lingering glances from other women more often. I flirted around a bit when I do the grocery. I didn’t actually stop loving my wife. I didn’t flirt with other women because I wanted to leave my wife. I adore her, even with all the stress and the near-indifference we have for each other. The flirting eventually turned sour for me when guilt set in, so I stopped and reassessed myself and my life.
Making Ends Meet
My experience is not uncommon these days. As financial demands that families need to meet, it became a simple practicality for both husband and wife to work to support the family.
I could take the easy way and blame everything to work. It’s hard to pin the point of departure from a blissfully happy marriage to the one ours turned into. But, I’d say the main thing was stress.
Stress from work left us too tired to even say anything more than the customary “hello”. It left us too tired to make an effort to be expressive and honest to each other. Arguments often left us stewing in anger without resolution, and we turned dismissive of each other’s opinions and feelings.
I confessed everything to my wife. I expected her to sigh in defeat. What I didn’t expect was for her to nod and say, “I’m glad you told me.”
Communication is the key
Everyone’s relationship advice is always “Communication is the key” and it really is. Marriage counseling became our next step. After that, we admitted all the things we’ve been hiding from each other, things that we’ve started resenting each other for.
It didn’t work like magic. But it helped in the process of healing. It offered an avenue for my wife and I to be open to each other with someone impartial overseeing. It was essential to take a step back and look at everything with the other person’s perspective. This made reestablishing our communication lines not smooth but definitely smoother.
Working Together for the Better
Counseling was not the solution to a failing marriage. But it’s a step towards the right direction, towards a destination or goal that you and your partner have the responsibility to taking on.
Since we started our couples therapy, our family life improved to the point where we made plans with the kids more often than before. We also took the time to plan something just for the two of us. It’s not what it used to be 10 or so years ago. But I daresay, it has the potential to be something greater. As the movie goes, enjoy the little things.