On marriage, hills and valleys, and taboos

When you're in a relationship, you understand that there are hills and valleys. The highs are high and the lows are low. The point is to ride it through and hope that there are more hills than valleys. But what do we do when the valley that we're in seems endless?

I read this article the other day about exactly this, and how it's a taboo topic, but one that we all go through. I was nodding through the article thinking, "YES! This is exactly what I'm going through right now and why on earth is it so awkward to talk about it?" Then I clicked on the comments and got a pit in my stomach. 99 out of 100 comments were lambasting this woman for talking about her relationship in a public forum. Basically the gist of it was that everyone thought that relationship troubles concern two people only, and those are the only two who should be involved in the conversation. Or, maybe a best friend, but certainly not the Internet.

Well, I can tell you that even talking to a best friend about how your marriage isn't going through the best time is nothing but awkward.

My particular valley is private and it's hard to talk about while still respecting my husband. Which is the whole point of what I'm trying to say here, I guess. I respect my husband, but he's not perfect, I'm not perfect, and our relationship isn't perfect. Right now, I'd even go so far as to say that it's pretty bad. It feels really weird to say that.

I'm not one foot out the door with divorce papers in hand, don't get me wrong. I have been with my husband for 15 years. That's almost most of my life. I'm certainly in it for the long haul.

The gist of our troubles is that while we have been great co-parents for the last 11 years, we haven't been particularly good partners. We got stuck in a rut and our situation seemed so overwhelming that it seemed like all we could do was wait it out. But we're still waiting, apparently.

I feel like my life has gone through a lot of stages, but it's interesting that we don't really talk about the adult stages we go through. I was daughter, high school graduate, crazy college kid, then wife, mother. The end. The plan went no further than that. There are obviously a lot more nuances to each stage, but I find these new stages bewildering. It's only looking back that I can even see that I was in that stage, and then it's too late to do anything about it. I guess I rode it out and did the best I could in each one.

I have been recognizing in the last several months that I am entering a new stage in my life. And this time I am actively aware of it, because it's the first time in a long time that it felt like it was truly MY stage, and not dependent on a label.

Becoming a mom, and then staying at home with the kids, then handling the special needs scenarios CONSUMED me. My mom said it best when she said, "You totally took yourself out of the picture." And she's right. On a top 25 priority list, I didn't even make the cut.

So now life is a little easier, and I've made changes. I have more girlfriends, I go out more, I have a part time job that is mostly satisfying to me, I volunteer, I bought a different house, I had another baby. One of those things, surely, would make me happy.

But now there's nothing left to change, and I'm still not exactly as happy as I'd like to be.

The one thing that I never changed is how I relate to my husband. And I could do a lot of finger pointing here, and I have, but I also freely admit that I am a big part of the problem. We got married SO YOUNG. I was barely 23. I had my son the day before I turned 25.

We went from college couple to adulthood, zero to sixty. We never took that time to really figure out who we were as adults before we thrust ourselves into the crazy parenting world. And while we are very good at that world, we were still missing that connecting thread, the one that tied us together without our kids.

I completely realize that my husband is not my everything, he just can't be. We have a ton in common, but we also have a ton of very big differences. The things that make us different are great, but I have been missing connecting with someone about those things. So I filled my life with hobbies and pursuits that filled that hole.

But the hole was still there.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I am a talker. Like a you're not going to get a word in edgewise talker. My husband is not that person. He listens, but it's not in his nature to talk a whole lot. He talks in his head. This has driven me insane pretty much since the first day we met. I NEED TO TALK! Every single day. To a person who is not 10 years old or younger. And sometimes my husband is literally the only adult I see in a day.

Anyway, this is getting personal. I'm going to run this whole thing by my husband before I publish it. I talked to him about writing something about this last night, and I asked him if I could send it to him to see if it made him uncomfortable. He said, "Even if it makes me uncomfortable, you should do it, as long as it's well written." I love that.

We're on the same page here now. We've hashed it out in one of those epic, lasts until 3am conversations that leave you physically and emotionally drained. And I'm the kind of person who needs that, otherwise I sit and stew on something until I blow up.

I didn't blow up on my husband, but I talked a mile a minute for about five hours. It was cathartic.

And now here we are, new and tender, trying to figure out what to do next. I don't know what's going to happen next, but I know now that we are at least on the same ride, and that we're going to try our damnedest to get out of this thousand mile valley we've been stuck in. At least we're both aware of it now, and I feel like that was the first step upward.

Babies.

Babies.

This was a particularly good day last summer. And probably one of a handful of photos we have of the two of us since we've had kids. We need to work on making memories for each other instead of just for our kids.

This was a particularly good day last summer. And probably one of a handful of photos we have of the two of us since we've had kids. We need to work on making memories for each other instead of just for our kids.