Marriage Isn’t Safe

klimt kiss

My husband says I’ve still “got it” and he laughs at my jokes, or perhaps he’s laughing at me. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. There’s laughter happening here and that can only be a good thing, right?

We also annoy each other. Such is life when a man and a woman decide to shack up and procreate.  In fact, I think it’s part of our “spark.”

Our marriage is hitting the 10 year mark, this June.  We’ve survived (and been blessed) with the addition of 3 little people into our lives. And we continue to co-exist, in general harmony, with these 3 little people. One is even a tween. Just let that sink in for a minute…

We didn’t go through the seven year itch nor have we had any infidelity or big blow outs that have lead us to the brink of divorce. We’ve lived in his country (England). We’re now living in mine (Canada). We’ve both made compromises along the way.

For the most part, we’ve had a great ten years. We’ve been lucky.

My husband is still trying to accept (and tame) the free spirit that lives inside me. She was there when we met and, if I have anything to do with it ( I do), she’ll never die. While, I’m learning to embrace (and tolerate) the often black and white nature of his logical-minded ways. Most of the time, we respect for our differences- recognizing that they are the root of our attraction to one another and a great array of influences to share with our kids.

Yes, occasionally, I’d like to pop him in his smug face and he’d fancy wringing my stubborn neck. That’s what you get when a Type A meets a Type B and you settle down and have a family. But, I love our marriage. So far…

Yet, I know it’s not safe.

Today’s content heart could be tomorrow’s broken one. Even when promises of forever have been made, I don’t assume divorce won’t happen to me, to us.

The fact is: 10 years is really not that long. Not on the “forever” scale, it isn’t. I’m not naïve. My parents got divorced when I was 11. In my memory, their marriage was a pretty good one. They laughed a lot. They were friends and partners. I don’t know all of the ins and outs of it, nor do I need to, but I felt secure in my family, as a kid. I felt as secure, as my kids do now. Yet, my parents’ relationship didn’t make it. It lasted 15 years. But, it didn’t make it.

Separation, divorce and discontentment. It’s popping up around us, these days. I guess that’s what happens when you hit middle age. People change. Marriages end.

In some cases, unlikely couples, simply run out of steam and desire to make the relationships work. In other scenarios, circumstances bring out the worst in those involved, and the marriages crack under pressure. Betrayals are happening. Husbands and wives are being blindsided by their partners’ unhappiness.

And I see how it can happen. I get how busy and distracted we can become and how this can disable us from being in tune with ourselves and our partners. I understand how we lose ourselves and our way, at times.  I also know that sometimes, what we want to be true, just simply isn’t and never will be.

I can’t safeguard myself or my marriage. But I can try…

I read somewhere recently that the success of a relationship depends on how a partner responds to the other’s “bids.” As in, do we listen and take on their expressed needs. Or do we ignore them, overlook them, feel incapable of meeting them. The concept of responding to “bids,” has stuck with me. It makes sense. If we are left hangin’ there, our calls unanswered, our needs unmet, I see how discontentment can creep in…

It’s made me think about the importance of my and my husband’s needs. And not just his need for a clean towel, his emotional needs. (He’d cringe at the thought of me writing this). You see, unlike me, he won’t come right out and ask. I’ll spell it out if I have to but he won’t. As a Type A, he likes to think he’s got everything under control. And he appears to. So, it’s up to me to read between the lines.

I’ll do my best to read him and to act accordingly.  Even if what I read tells me that I need to make some changes.

I’ll do this. For him. For us. For our kids. But, it won’t secure my marriage. Nothing will.

Because marriage isn’t safe…

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15 thoughts on “Marriage Isn’t Safe

  1. Shannon, this is SO great! I have been married 22 years and have been writing a lot about this type of relationship “stuff” in a book I am working on about self-care for moms. I received some sound advice from a mentor who said to always remember that every single day is choice to stay married. Either one of you can walk out the door on any given day. I think about that A LOT and I love what you said about the importance of reading your husband’s needs. It sounds like our guys have a lot in common!

    Loved reading this!

  2. Thanks so much! I do feel that we need to keep an eye on the state of our relationship. Not in a panicky way. Not in a “let’s sit down and communicate” sort of way (not with my guy anyway) but in an observant, watchful way. And good luck with your book. Self-care is of the utmost importance – so your book sounds like a useful tool.

  3. Great words! Marriage definitely isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ benefit. It’s effort…and the specific effort one you called out here is so true..and also rarely pointed out for hitched up folks.

  4. Beautiful post. 12 years married and 3 kids, career changes, different priorities. I am type A and this post reminds me to take a breath and tone it down a notch. It’s quite difficult to expect someone to read between the lines.

    • Hey Sara, I’m glad that this post has made you stop and reflect. I think if we all do that every once in a while, our relationships would benefit. Now, as for reading between the lines, perhaps not always easy but worth the effort. Thanks for commenting.

  5. You know I feel the same way – it’s an investment and and ongoing acknowledgement and discussion of needs and wants, as they change with the ebb and flow of life. Well done, Shannon!

  6. Good Article, Shannon… thought provoking and an important reminder to look at the situation from more than one perspective… a challenging task when there are toddlers whining, books flying, appointments and laundry to do!!!! But oh, so important! We use a check in strategy called – Stop, Start, Continue – not for everyone, but helps work out the bugs before they become monsters!!!

    • Yes, I think we all need reminders to look at situations from more than one perspective. It’s not always easy and I don’t always do it. When I do, it’s often after the fact when I’ve had some space and time to reflect.

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