Getting comfortable, I excitedly wiggle into place on the esthetician bed and closing my eyes I settle in for the most relaxing part of my week this week; my lash extension appointment. I allow my frugal self to splurge on this wonderful invention and lying flat with my eyes closed and feet up, I enjoy chatting with “my lash girl” about her 20-year-old adventures every three weeks. 

We normally talk about who she has gone out with and we laugh thinking of funny things she should do or say next time she sees him. This time though, she had more exciting news on the dating front. One of her more recent suitors had become more serious over the previous weeks and she told me the details of the young love that was beginning to bud. She didn’t say the LOVE word, but I knew. I had been there. At exactly that age. She talked about how he wasn’t what she thought her type was, but that he was exactly her type at the same time. 

She told me she had never met anyone like him before, especially recently in her dating life, and felt like he was a rare gem in the confusing cyberspace world of Tinder, Bumble and Snapchat where pictures of genitalia are exchanged before first names. 

She said they could talk for hours and laugh and dream and were on the same page with life goals and family dreams.

She told me she had never had a guy think so highly of her before. He found her to be beautiful but didn’t express it in a self-serving sort of way.

She told me their time together wasn’t spent doing extravagant things, but simple things like fro-yo dates and sitting in deer stands watching the sun set. 

And as she was talking, I was flashing through my own memories of two lovestruck kids those same ages doing those same things. I remember the ice cream dates and the walks at the park doing anything we could just to spend time together. We would ride in the car and hold hands and sing like fools to the radio. I would look over at him and think nothing would come between us, and if “something” ever did, we would work through it.

But what I didn’t know then in those early years of love is it isn’t always a big “something” that comes between two people. 

Those really big earth shattering, marriage destroying grenade “somethings” are rare. Cheating, financial infidelity and addiction are huge and heartbreaking, but what I have come to learn is that more often, it is a bunch of little things over time that lead to a breakdown of the dream two people once shared.

It is stress of all kinds: money, work, family, kids who aren’t cooperating, health problems. All of it. 

It is spending all of our “free time” doing everything for everyone else. I often joke that it feels like my husband and I high-five each other as we pass in the mudroom getting kids around and off to different events, family functions and second jobs. 

It is being too tired after a day of chasing, wrangling, wrestling, shouting, crying, and parenting to even try to have a conversation about the day, let alone get undressed to do the thing we know we should but are not sure we would make it through without falling into a deep slumber. So we just say we can try again tomorrow. 

It is watching my husband’s dreams take off while mine are put on hold for a little while. 

It is scrolling online and seeing friends happier than us, richer than us, or doing more exciting things than us.

The “somethings” that creep in and start to deteriorate the dream and life we built together are small but they are powerful. And with each passing year, if not dealt with, they slowly break down the life we wanted, and instead it builds walls, and fanciful expectations that are not being met. They build resentment and bitterness and it forms a life we don’t recognize or want.

How did we get here? Nothing happened. And yet things did happen. Day after day, month after month we lost our focus and when our focus is off of protecting our marriage, so many things are waiting in the wings ready to step in its place of priority.  

I circle back to my sweet friend who is now talking about her weekend plans with her new guy. I’m secretly wishing I was also heading away for a nice weekend up north and am hit with some major conviction: I am always wishing for something. I’m wishing for more time, more money, more more more. And yet, I have someone at home waiting for me to return who is knee-deep in toddlers and wrestling matches that I have lost sight of. I just walked through years of memories shared between us and felt so distant from those people. 

Now after so many years and life changes how do we get back to a couple of lovestruck teenagers? We can’t. We aren’t there anymore. It was amazing to fall in love in the summer in Michigan, it was amazing to have a lot of time together and we made a lot of memories. But where we are now is different. It’s hard when we have little ones at our feet and a whole lot less alone time. But what I do have is the desire. The desire to be present for my husband, the desire to reignite a flame that is still burning but a little more dimly, the desire to be the best wife I can be for my husband. 

As I leave the salon and head home for a weekend of plans and chaos, I make a vow to myself to take control of the extra moments that get used up by mindless Facebook scrolling or unimportant work to make sure my husband, a love I have known for a long time, knows what we had a decade ago was great, but what we have now, and will have in the future is going to be better, and wouldn’t you know it? It’s summer in Michigan. What a great time to begin. 

Hannah Southerland

Hannah Southerland is a young mom of two little boys and the wife to her high school sweetheart. She loves helping women in their marriages and motherhood and feels like community is the best way to make it through this crazy thing called life. She is the lover of all things coffee, chocolate, and family nights in.