Saturday, April 2, 2016

Marriage and Parenting, version 7402

I don't know exactly how many iterations of marriage and parenting a couple goes through over the course of a lifetime, but since 1997 (the beginning of our marriage) and 2004 (the beginning of our parenting), it has certainly felt like 7,402.

I'm not sure what makes a marriage work, but like most things, I suspect it is a complex formula that factors in personality, life experiences, goals, needs, physical changes and so on.

The kids being 12, 8 and 6 is a bit of a sweet spot for our marriage right now.  We are able to go for walks in the neighborhood without the children, and while I do miss "family walks," it is nice to have time to just be with D and catch up on the day without being interrupted.  Our blood actually circulates as we walk, which is much different when walking with little people who stop to look at every worm.

As our children moved from the adorable sweetness of infancy/toddlerhood into consistent eye-rolling, endless poop commentary and complaints about the food that is stocked in the pantry, it meant a move in our marriage.  We are a united front if only because our children are more regularly a-holes to one or both of us.  At some point, as they moved from cuddly, snuggly littles into opinionated turds, I found that I appreciated and needed D's adultness.  Someone to whom to say, "Isn't [insert child's name] being a pain in the butt right now?"

This is not to say that all is glory and light all the time.  I think we both regularly would like to ring each others' necks, although we generally keep these feelings to ourselves and let them subside, as they do as the day progresses, we calm down and become distracted by other things.  Or one of us says something funny and causes the other to remember, "Aha!  This is why I like him/her."

As I've written about, I have not been entirely okay with my existence as a stay-at-home mom of kids who are no longer at home.  My desire to make a change for myself means that D will have to change a bit, and that can be difficult.  The man who ate Raisin Bran every day for breakfast for the first ten years of our marriage and is now in his Muesli phase isn't one to eagerly agree to changing the routine.

But we will adjust if for no other reason than he knows (based on being in my life for 21 years) that I sorta plow ahead.  I make small changes to my life to find happiness, and I don't ask him to make major changes in his life (but do ask for help with small changes).  Having that united front at the moment makes that transition easier, although it certainly won't be easy.   It feels (at least to me) that we are more of a "team" than we have ever been.

We have begun to talk about doing something special for our 20th wedding anniversary next year, assuming that we are still married at that time.  That sounds funny, and we do say it a bit in jest, but I think we also try to remember that this marriage isn't a given.  My parents, who are in their 45th year of a mostly happy marriage, ask every year if they want to re-up for another.  In its own way, this question requires a person to take the pulse of the marriage.

For iteration 7,402, the pulse feels strong and steady.  

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