There’s this point in the middle of marriage that people aren’t talking about. There’s the beginning and the end that everyone shares. It’s either the dreams and hopes of the upcoming wedding day and honeymoon period or the wistful love story of the aged couple 50 years into marriage sitting in the rocker holding hands.

But what happens in the middle? Because I don’t know about your story but between the fairy tale beginning and the happily ever after ending is a story of struggle, disappointment, heartache, redemption, rebuilding, and reconnecting.

Somewhere in the middle, you get lost and you question everything.

You’ve changed, he’s changed, everything has changed as the years and the decades slip by. There are moments when it feels like it’s no longer working, and you’re standing in the middle of the mess your marriage has become asking how do I know to stay or go? What am I supposed to be feeling and doing here in the middle of marriage? 

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As you’re looking around at all the others around you, you find yourself asking am I the only one? Do they struggle too? Are they different people than when they met at the altar too? You feel like you’re either seeing friends happily posting on social media about their grand life together, or it seems like more are now divorcing and going their separate ways, splitting their kids between two homes and what’s become of their two different lives.

You’re standing somewhere in the middle of all of it, wondering.

Do I become the next divorce story or how do I fix this to be the 50-year success story ending my days in the rocker on the front porch?  

With so much time passing, the transgressions and mistakes have piled up, creating a wall of bitterness and resentment. The storyline of your love story is not following the script you mapped out in your head all those years ago at the altar.

You look at the older couples you look up to who have made it to the end, but all you see is the end result of the battle they won, not the battle they fought to get there.  

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In the middle of marriage is a space of uncomfortable growth. It’s realizing you’re no longer the naïve girl who stood at that altar and thought that because she was an adult and found the love of her life, she had life all figured out.

Because the wedding day is not the ending of the love story, it really is just the beginning.

It’s the beginning of a life that comes faster than you can keep up with at times—with babies, sometimes lost babies, and mortgages and maybe even lost homes, and careers and maybe even lost careers, and new relationships with family and friends and loss of family and friends. As life spins and accelerates and buckles under the stress and the expectations, you change and you grow but sometimes you find that you grew apart rather than grew together.

At some point, the dust settles, and you feel like you’re staring at two totally different people than the ones who stood at the altar. Though you have stuck together through all the ups and downs, somehow you’ve lost one another along the way. You lost connection. You became emotionally distant from one another, unsure now—here somewhere in the middle of marriage—how you reconnect to who you used to be before all those ups and downs of life happened.

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Somewhere in the middle, after you’ve built so much, you find you have to knock down some walls and begin rebuilding again. It wasn’t the story you imagined, but maybe that’s because while everyone was happy to share the story of the beginning and the ending they forgot to tell you the biggest part of the story of marriage—the middle.

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Angela Williams Glenn

Angela Williams Glenn writes about the struggles and joys of motherhood on her website Stepping into Motherhood. Her book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas examines the expectations verse the realities of motherhood in our modern day digital era and her book Letters to a Daughter is an interactive journal for mothers to their daughters. She’s also been published with Chicken Soup for the Soul, TAAVI Village, Bored Teachers, and Filter Free Parents. You can find her on her Facebook page at Stepping into Motherhood.