(This is the second in an unintended mini-series on marriage. My apologies to the single folks. Here goes….)
Former First Lady Michelle Obama caught our attention at the end of 2022 with an interview in which she admitted that her marriage was terrible for a period of time.
“People think I’m being catty by saying this — it’s like, there were 10 years where I couldn’t stand my husband,” she said. “And guess when it happened? When those kids were little.” (here)
Friends, this is not news. Marriage is hard. Marriage is really hard when the kids are young and need us the most. Work? Extended family? A few forgiving friendships? All the endless tasks of parenthood and homemaking? Me time? Ha!
My daughter was still in diapers when I attended a clergy retreat in southern Illinois. Well, it wasn’t exactly a retreat for me. The rest of the clergy were staying in a lovely B&B while I commuted an hour and half each way from home so I could still be mom.
I said as much over lunch to one of my colleagues, who shook his head. “I’m so glad those days are over,” he reflected. “It’s so nice not to have to hate my wife anymore.”
He explained. “We were always in competition. For a little extra time. A little less work. A little less responsibility. We hated each other for a while,” he kept going. “We don’t anymore.”
I remember wondering when “anymore” would happen.
Well, it did, but it took a while. We had glimpses of “anymore” through the years, but it arrived to stay as the kids got older and mostly self-sufficient. My husband and I weren’t playing the perpetual game of who’s-going-to-get-up-at-one a.m.-to-pick-up-the-kids-after-the-band-competition chicken. As I got less angry, my husband got less defensive. As he got less defensive, he (ironically) picked up more work around the house. As he picked up more work around the house, I got less stressed. We actually started enjoying each other’s company again.
My daughter is about to graduate from college. She remembers the stinky years. She admits that they scared her. Now? She complains about us being too happy. “You’ve ruined me,” she says.
“We don’t anymore.” This year will mark our 30th anniversary. We’re nothing special. No great Hallmark-worthy love story here. We just hung in.
My word of encouragement for the weary years is this–
The tough times come but they go again too. Sometimes marriage stinks. Until it doesn’t.