I’ve been meaning to write about my marriage these days, because it’s in a good place, and as you all know, that isn’t always the case.
The truth is, I’m not quite sure why my marriage is doing better these days. I can make some educated guesses, but I can’t be sure. The reality is a marriage is a relationship between two people, and how either one is feeling, what they are going through and how they handling things greatly affects the dynamic. When you add in two other, younger, human beings, who have their own issues, well the variables just keep multiplying.
But I have been giving this considerable thought, since I personally am in a really stressful situation at work, and as president of the PTA, which I would expect would put a strain on our marriage. Happily, this hasn’t been the case.
So a few things I have identified as helping our marriage lately.
~ I do think my email helped, for whatever reason. I’m certain I’ve sent very similar emails in the past that weren’t of much discernible consequence, but for some reason this one seemed to help him change his attitude toward his own responsibilities at home.
~ I also forwarded him some interesting articles I read about why women in happy marriages cheat (the women describe their marriages as happy, despite having affairs). I honestly started reading the first because I was confused by the title, assuming that “cheat” referred to acting dishonestly out in the world. Ha! Once I started reading it I was hooked, because I had always assumed people in happy marriages didn’t cheat, that an affair was a symptom of an unhappy marriage, not something that happened when a women felt mostly content. One of the articles mentioned that even if a woman was in love with her husband, and felt they were good friends, if she perceived an imbalance in household workload, the ensuing resentment could be enough to send her looking for an escape in another relationship, one where that resentful dynamic didn’t exist. Maybe my husband took that to heart?
~ Come to think of it, I generally send my husband EVERY article I read on gender inequality in marriages, on the “invisible” or “emotional” labor that women take on, and the consequences of its prolonged, unshared, weight. Maybe the are making an impact, slowly and subtly.
~ I think me actually applying, and interviewing, for jobs last year changed a dynamic that was creating friction in our marriage. This dynamic looked like me complaining about my job, but feeling stuck in it, and doing absolutely nothing to find something else, and my husband eventually refusing to engage me on the topic, since he felt it wasn’t fair for me to bitch about work when I clearly wasn’t serious about finding something different. The fact that I finally took steps to find another job helped my husband see that I was, in fact, seriously unhappy, and serious about finding something new. It dislodged an entrenched issue that was causing resentment on both sides, even though the final outcome looks exactly like it did before (I’m still at my job and it’s making me vaguely miserable). My husband respects that I put myself out there, and is empathetic that I am still stuck where I don’t want to be, despite attempting to make a change. Now when I do mention how hard work is, he responds in a very different, more supportive way, and I think what he says genuinely represents how he feels about it.
~ After an initial rough start (and a nightmarish summer), my daughter has been thriving this school year. She really loves her teacher (I am not a fan, but she likes him and that is what’s most important right now), and is handling the stress of homework and activities so much better than she has in the past. Needless to say, when we aren’t spending our emotional reserves managing our daughter, we have more for each other.
~ I actually started taking Magnesium, which I swear helps my daughter manage her moods and behavior so much (I actually stopped giving her magnesium over the summer–not sure why, I just forgot with all the travel?–and I truly believe that starting it again is part of why she’s doing so well right now (and that not having it this summer is part of why she struggled so much). I don’t know why I didn’t take magnesium myself, when I believed it was helping my daughter so much, especially when I know we are very similar people. But I did start and I swear I am calmer and my moods are more balanced. I am better able to handle the stress I’m under and I just feel more in control of my thoughts and feelings. Things at work, at with PTA, really are so stressful right now, but I’m not at nearly the place I have been in the past when things were not as challenging to manage. I really do believe it’s helping. Obviously when I’m happier, my marriage is happier.
~ My husband and I have a new nightly ritual that we really enjoy and gives us an opportunity to spend some quality time together and feel connected. Before bed we watch Desus & Mero (on Viceland) and then my husband shares with me all his favorite tweets from the day. It may sound silly, but both the show, and the tweets (which are mostly from comedians and other funny people because his Twitter feed is carefully curated to include only the users that make him laugh) help us process the insanity that is the world right now, and give us a more lighthearted way to engage in conversation about the shit that is going down. It also helps us remember that our similarly odd, quirky, senses of humor are what drew us to each other in the first place.
~ Things at work are good for my husband right now. Sure there is much he’d love to change, but generally he feels acknowledged and appreciated by his colleagues, and he is grateful to be doing work that is meaningful to him. When he is happy at work, he is happier at home.
So those are the things that I feel have helped us get to a better place. I’m sure there is stuff I am missing, and if I think of anything else I’ll mention it later. No matter what it is, I’m really happy in my marriage at the moment. My husband feels like my friend in a way that he hasn’t for a long time. He is actually out of town right now, and I was realizing before he left that I was really going to miss him. There have been times when he left and I felt relief that I wouldn’t have to negotiate a strained dynamic for a few days, and could just do things how I wanted without having to feel resentment for taking it all on. This time I just missed him being around at night; Desus & Mero isn’t the same when I’m watching it alone.
How is your marriage these days? What is helping and/or what is hurting you attempts to be happy with your spouse?