On the Same Team / When Marriage is Hard Work

On the Same Team / When Marriage is Hard Work

“That was back when we had a functional family” said my husband as he reminisced about a past weekend away camping in Dorset. It was said in jest but I think we both knew there was an element of truth behind it.

Life with teenagers is flipping hard work. We’ve had our fair share of struggles over the last two years and I wouldn’t say that we are out the other side just yet. We still attend family therapy once a month (what a joy that is) and one of us will inevitably butt heads with a certain child on a daily basis.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news people but bringing up teenagers is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it also takes up the majority of my time. I confirmed to a friend recently that ‘being a mum’ will always be at the top of my jobs list. I’m secretly hoping that one day I might be able to have a *proper* job but right now, although I have two part-time roles, motherhood is my full-time role and will come before anything else.

It doesn’t matter what the job is, time off is crucial.

Due to our circumstances of late, I haven’t had any ‘time off for good behaviour‘ in over a year. More importantly, we haven’t had any time off together (bar the odd 1 hour escape to the pub where we usually end up talking about the kids anyway!) in all that time.

Cluse Rose Gold Watch

I’ve always been a huge advocate for couples spending time together. I stand by the fact that if a marriage isn’t working then the whole family will slowly begin to break. For that reason I’ve always believed that our marriage should be prioritised over everything.

But when life socks you between the eyes, priorities get thrown off kilter. The days out that we carefully structured into the family planner have been squeezed out, in place of needing to be at home ‘just in case’. The date nights (I hate that word but you know what I mean) that we had started to put in place every Wednesday evening are not even on our radar, as neither of us has the energy to be the instigator and flopping in front of the TV seems an easier option.

Marriage is hard work.

Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Just as I despise the whole ‘I’m a perfect parent and my life is ticking along just fine thank you very much‘ facade, I think it’s dangerous to portray an image that marriage is easy. Anything worth having needs fighting for doesn’t it? Marriage is no different.

When you’re living life on the edge and unusual stresses press in on all sides, that’s when the cracks start to appear. That’s when your spouse is in danger of becoming an enemy instead of an ally. That’s when the daily niggles that might have been overlooked in the past, cause rows that threaten to go on for days. That’s when those little irritations that are all part of sharing a home with another human being, become monstrous obstacles that grate to the point of explosion.

In short, during the times when we need each other the most, we seem to (not so) gently push each other away. I’ve identified five things that have helped us get through the past two tricky years and I want to share them today.

when marriage is hard work

Humour

Our relationship is rooted in laughter; it’s something that we both thrive on as individuals and together even more so. I’m so thankful that we share the same sense of humour and even in the darkest times, we’ve been able to laugh heartily, knowing that the other one will totally ‘get it’. Your relationship’s common ground might not be laughter but I can guarantee that there will be one particular thing that brought you together as a couple. I would encourage you to look for it and try to bring it to the foreground.

Forgiveness

Sometimes we muck up, sometimes we say things that we don’t really mean (or we kind of mean but wouldn’t use such harsh words if we weren’t tired and stressed). When sulking or flying off the handle can seem like a very good option, that’s when forgiveness is required.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve both had times when forgiveness has taken a little longer than it might have done ordinarily, but more often that not, we come back to this little fact: we are on the same team. My husband reminds me of this on a regular basis and it’s so true. Forgiving myself has been right up there as a battle this past year and as I begin to come out on top, I am realising just how crucial this is to a thriving marriage.

Trust

I’m not particularly talking about trusting one another here (although that of course is pretty crucial) but more the sanctity of marriage – that what brought us together will keep us that way, that God created humans to be in partnership for a reason, that He’s for relationships and for families.

Memories

Whilst on occasion the memories of our life ‘before’ have been painful, I can now see them as an important factor in reminding us of who we are as a couple; as a family even. They’ve become a source of comfort and of hope, rather than of loss. I guess that might be partly thanks to time, the great healer, but looking through old photographs, reminiscing over past holidays and days out, have certainly helped. Yes the harsh realities of life will change us to a degree, but that doesn’t mean those good times didn’t exist, it doesn’t remove who we are at the heart. I don’t think that ever changes.

Talking

As you can imagine, I don’t find talking a challenge! Thankfully, you rarely find that both people in a couple love to talk (two people fighting for air time would be utterly exhausting!). I’ve had to encourage my husband to share his feelings, to talk through all that is going on in his head and sometimes I’ve had to listen to stuff that has been difficult to hear.

When it’s all got a little too heavy, when dealing with our own ‘stuff’ has left us unable to cope with the other one’s as well, we’ve lent on those around us to be the listening ear. Although it might seem like the harder option at first, talking is where it’s at people – get the stuff out in the open.

You might be wondering why I haven’t included the obvious word in this list – Love. Whilst love has always been lurking in the background, on its own I don’t think that love is enough to get you through the tough times – countless broken marriages are testament to that.

Life has the uncanny knack of throwing curveballs when you’re least expecting it and you need a few tricks up your sleeve to help you through. I know for sure that we will hit a bump in the road again at some point but I think that next time we will be ready for it. Next time we will be better prepared. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

What ‘tricks’ does your marriage have up its sleeve?

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27 Comments

  1. March 2, 2017 / 10:27 am

    Lovely lady, I could have written most of this myself. My hubby and I have been through the mill for years now, as you know, and on my darkest days I’m convinced that we aren’t strong enough to ‘come out the other side’. I’m 90% convinced we will though. As you will. Forgiveness is so so important, letting slide the tiny things that aren’t important in the grand scheme of life. Try and get away together, even if it’s only for one night, it’ll do you the world of good. Hugs xxx

    • March 2, 2017 / 11:21 am

      Thank you lovely. I knew it would strike a chord with so many which is why I felt it was important to share. We are doing ok but at times it has been very hard and when we should have lent on one another, we’ve been unkind and cross. We have a long weekend booked later on this month and I absolutely cannot wait! xx

    • March 2, 2017 / 11:22 am

      Bless you Claire, that’s what my husband said! It’s important to share these things. Life isn’t always a bed of roses and marriage needs working at. Sometimes we just need reminding. xx

  2. March 2, 2017 / 11:48 am

    Such an important post for everyone to read! You’ve done so well to come through it all. I know things aren’t totally normal for you, but you’ve come such a long way.
    We had our tough times when the kids were younger and I was struggling with three small kids, a job, a house that was too small and a husband that wasn’t around much. Life is much easier for us all now, but I often think of you and know that life can throw a curveball at any moment. I’ll remember to check back on this post if/ when it does.

  3. March 2, 2017 / 11:50 am

    This post is so timely Suzanne, thank you so much for writing it. I was beginning to feel that everyone else had a perfect family and marriage, seeing happy smiley monthly family photos everywhere was sending me over the edge! Thank you for being open and sharing your truth and wisdom. I’m going to add grace in to the mix. This is a value that I’m learning to live out this year and oh boy is it hard. Let’s just say that I’m glad I believe in a big and gracious God to help! xxxx

    • March 2, 2017 / 11:28 pm

      You never see a happy, smiley family photo here Morgana, I can’t get people in the same room for long enough lol! But seriously, life is tough. For everyone. I think accepting that is a hugely important thing to do first and foremost. Then it’s finding ways that help us and don’t hinder us. Thank you for sharing your encouragement on here, I was nervous about posting but somehow felt led to write today on this subject. Now I know why. xx

  4. March 2, 2017 / 12:09 pm

    Suzanne,

    Forgiveness… yes! Many years ago I heard a sermon delivered by a visitor from another church. I’ve forgotten everything about the sermon except for one sentence: “In any relationship, if there is no forgiveness there can be no progress.”

  5. March 2, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    Oh gosh I totally agree with all this. Marriage really is hard, we’ve also had an event that has divided our lives into ‘before’ and ‘after’. It’s tough and we really don’t get any time on our own together when I’m not in front of a laptop so I totally relate to the need to have time off and spend time together, it’s top of our list of things to do at the moment.
    Nat.x

    • March 2, 2017 / 11:26 pm

      Well done Nat. Keep plugging away and taking time out together. So important but often the first thing to go when things get tough. xx

  6. Kate Mynard
    March 2, 2017 / 5:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m new to your blog and it’s hugely encouraging and real…Plus you point people to God, which as a fellow Christian I really love. Praying for you and your family! Marriage is such a blessing but can sometimes feel a curse (when things are really hard!). Thanks for the reminders to walk together through times of trial.

    • March 2, 2017 / 11:26 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment today. I appreciate every one but today, this post was personal so every comment means that little bit more. x

  7. March 2, 2017 / 9:26 pm

    I hear you! When my husband and I got married, we’d already come through a tough 3 years and we thought we’d be able to survive anything! But then the next year I had a horrific pregnancy, then we both struggled dealing with the trauma of that during the exhaustion of becoming new parents, and then life got super crazy healthwise and workwise for both of us, and quite frankly the almost 10 years we’ve known each other have been so unbelievably hard!

    And yet I think they have given us a certain level of resilience as a couple that we often underestimate. We know how to get through those moments when we act in ways that hurt or anger the other (usually because we are hurting and angry ourselves!) because we’ve been here before and have tried and tested ways of getting through it. That’s not to play down how hard it is – it can be SO unbelievably hard sometimes – just that we know love alone isn’t enough, just as you say!

    For me the most important things we have that help us are friendship (we are friends first and lovers second – friendship is so crucial for us); honesty (knowing that no matter what happens, we can share exactly how we feel and know the other will do so too); patience (for me that means giving my husband time to process things, and for him it means being able to give me the time and space to just blurt everything out); trust (knowing that no matter what, we both value what we have so much that nothing the other does can truly ruin it); and time apart (yes, we spend most evenings doing our own thing, because we both need time to just be by ourselves. But that means when we do spend time together, we truly cherish it as we’ve given ourselves space to do our own thing already!)

    • June 26, 2017 / 3:50 pm

      I absolutely agree that friendship should be top of the list, especially as you get older. I definitely think priorities in marriage change as the years go by. Sounds like you have a lovely relationship 🙂

  8. March 3, 2017 / 10:40 am

    Such a great and honest post. I agree so much with everything you have said – marriage is hard work. Everything in life worth having is hard work. I love my husband more every day and yet he drives me a little more crazy every day. I think It is important that we appreciate each other. He understands how hard my days are with the kids and I understand how hard and stressful his job is. There are days I need a bit more help and there are days he does. We are a team.

  9. March 4, 2017 / 3:29 pm

    I could’ve written this myself. I agree with everything you’ve said, marriage is really, really tough. I’ve been having a bit of a life wobble recently, and have been struggling to deal with lots of emotions (amongst other things). It’s been really tough, and I’ve questioned our marriage many times – but like you say it’s worth working for. Great post, thank you for being so honest and open xx

  10. March 5, 2017 / 9:51 am

    We had such a great relationship probably up until Troy was born but the first six months of his life, with two under two, shift work and just life could have easily broken us. In those times there was much forgiveness, much laughter – when he would make me laugh on even the toughest days and we were always talking about the future, making plans and creating our own light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve both said that was the hardest point of our relationship but the last four months of building work, dust and small children has also taken a really big toll on our relationship. It isn’t easy and we are now just looking forward tot that light at the end of the tunnel again. I hope after that we can have some respite until the teenage years – I am dreading it already. Really lovely, honest post – it’s obvious how important your family and marriage is to you. It’s central to everything x

    • June 26, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      Thank you for your lovely response Donna. Young children absolutely put a strain on marriage and then I think you get about a decade to recover (being generous here!) and then the real hard work starts! I am sure that you and your husband will have worked together to put the groundwork in the early years so hopefully things won’t be too tough for you. Always sounds as though you have a lovely relationship.

  11. March 5, 2017 / 5:12 pm

    Brilliant post and I bet every single person can relate. Marriage is blooming hard and I bet so many have been to the brink and back. I think it always comes down to whether or not you want to come back. Someone once commented on my “amazing happy life” on Instagram and they were going through a rough patch themselves. I had to contact them and tell them that we have ups and downs too and what you see on social media isn’t always the full picture. It can be a dangerous perception can’t it?

  12. Sue
    March 5, 2017 / 8:14 pm

    Great post Suzanne, why do we pretend things are OK when they’re not, sometimes just trying to talk about it is too much. We’ve almost been broken so many times but underneath all the things life throws at us there’s is still love. We reach our 30th wedding anniversary, we’re surprised but thankful we’ve made it through this far.

    • April 16, 2017 / 9:16 am

      That’s wonderful! Many congratulations to you both. x

  13. March 6, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    When I was little I used to think that “being in love” was enough. That all you had to do was find someone who loved you back and from then on, although it would be a battle, love would overcome everything. However, now i am an adult I know that that isn’t true. I love your tips and if I am ever in a position to use them I will 🙂

    • March 8, 2017 / 1:47 pm

      Yes I think that’s a romantic view of life – the reality isn’t quite the same! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  14. Sandra
    April 14, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    Have just ‘stumbled’ across your blog and it’s so refreshing to find someone with a christian outlook, in a sea of social media, where materialistic attitude’s seem to rule.
    I love the finer things in life too, of course but there is a bigger picture and it’s all too easy to get swept up with other things!
    Great post! I’ve been married for nearly 30 yrs and found a brilliant marriage course, run by my local church that I attended with my OH…we both really enjoyed it and found the most important thing is to make time for each other, really listen, and have time out/ date night’s on a regular basis.
    We’ve had our up’s and downs like everyone; especially with two teens ( and more recently an unexpected arrival of a grandchild!!!).

    • April 16, 2017 / 9:15 am

      Hi Sandra, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and also comment 🙂 We’ve also done the marriage course that I think you’re talking about – I would highly recommend it for anyone. I absolutely agree that we can get ‘swept up’ in the finer things of life, it’s something that I have to ‘catch’ myself on frequently. I try my hardest to put a mix of posts in here to balance it out. xx

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