I sit here nearly in tears on the eve of our 9th wedding anniversary. You could say I am having a small pity party. For the last couple of days, Facebook has been showing me memories from that time nine years ago. The pictures from those memories show us celebrating with good friends and laughing without a care in the world. They show us hugging and kissing – blissfully happy and in love.
Our wedding day was perfect.
We also had a perfect courtship and engagement, although it wasn’t easy. For the whole 17 months between meeting and getting married, we lived eight hours apart. I was finishing grad school and he was working and living at the other end of the state. But it was good. Like really good. Flowers for no reason, surprise visits, endless talks on the phone. I would find sweet notes left for me after he visited. I still have all of those love letters. We had fun. We DATED each other.
It was hard – or even impossible – to imagine that things would ever change. My naïve 23-year-old self couldn’t see that far into the future. But nonetheless, we said our vows on our wedding day and we meant them. For better or worse.
But no one tells us how hard marriage actually is. Or if they did, I didn’t believe them, because dating and falling in love was so easy. But the changes that life brings are many – jobs, losing family members and friends, moving, children…. Life changes and so do we.
I didn’t want the typical Bible verses read at our wedding. But, I’m glad we went ahead and chose them anyway, because now I see why they are so frequently recited. “Love is patient, love is kind.” After the wedding, we spent the rest of our twenties figuring out who WE were. And then we added children to our family.
Since then, our relationship has somewhat been put on hold. I know this is exactly what they say NOT to do. All advice points to “still make time for each other, still go on dates, your spouse comes first and your kids second, blah blah blah.” Well I don’t know about you, but when 157% of your energy goes to the small monsters that you created together, you can’t remember when the last time that you showered, and you discover after a long day (only when your husband points it out to you) that you have toddler snot smeared all over your shirt, I find it pretty hard to have any energy left at the end of the day for this mysterious thing called dating.
You know what I COULD use though is a nap. Before you call the marriage authorities though, please note that we did go away for a quick overnight trip last weekend for our first date in… about 10 months. And do you know what we did? Slept. No innuendo intended. No joking. We literally slept for a full 8 hours of consecutive sleep for the first time in over 5 years. And. It. Was. Glorious.
My point is, there is no time for each other. He gets up at 4:00 am to get in a workout and do the cattle chores. I get up a few minutes before he leaves for work, around 5:30-6:00 am. When he gets home at night, he pops in for the circus known as dinner (sometimes) before heading back out to the field. He comes in, showers, helps with bedtime, and by the time I collapse into bed at around 10:30 he is fast asleep. Rinse and repeat, even on the weekends.
#FarmLife, folks. It’s not easy on the marriage for sure. But just as I believe that there is no such thing as balance in any other aspect of life, only seasons, I also believe the same to be true of marriage. Right now, this is the season we are in. I am working hard to keep the children alive, and he is working hard to keep food on our table (and on yours I might add, because – farming).
So back to the patience and kindness. Marriage requires both. Lots of them. With your spouse and yourself. Because do you know what else is hard? Trying to learn how to keep up a household, be a mom, a wife, and a friend. I am hard on myself when I am not perfect (Yes, I am working on the grace thing too). So, I need my husband to have patience with me, and also show me kindness when I am struggling. In the same respect, I need to have patience with him as he learns his new role of being the primary supporter of a family, working full time and in every free moment working on the farm. Kindness, patience, and understanding are key.
Do you know what else we do? We adapt. Whenever he can, my husband takes the kids in the tractor with him to give me a break and because they love it. A “date” now consists of going to church, driving through the cows together, or fixing fence. We have learned to redefine “romantic.”
I also keep a gratitude journal of all of the things, big or small, that I am grateful for about my husband. Because it’s pretty hard to be mad at someone when you can look back through and are reminded of all of the ways that your significant other ROCKS at being your partner. Mine, for example, makes the coffee every night so it will be ready in the morning. He occasionally fills my car with gas because he knows I hate doing it. He is an AMAZING cook. The list is LONG of things I am grateful for about my man, which means that my list of complaints is pretty short.
By the time I got over my short pity party tonight, I had remembered that life is full of change. WE change. And we adapt. We show kindness and patience. We show and practice gratitude. We have a different idea of what constitutes romance. Unconventional as our methods may be – they works for us. We are in this for better or worse. Together.