Let’s be honest for a moment. Life is messy. There are days the dishes are still in the sink the next morning, laundry has piled up until you’re down to the ugly undies, and you can’t find the bathroom sink under the bobby pins and make-up that is littering the area. But that’s not exactly what I mean by life is messy.
How many of us look at the perfect Pinterest projects and scroll through our Facebook feed and feel envious of all the spouses who have it all together? Are we missing that gene? Like we don’t measure up and our marriages aren’t as good because while Jane is bragging about her husband bringing home flowers because it was Thursday, our husband left his socks on the floor for the millionth time after you’ve asked him not to. We see these impossible standards that we want to achieve and worry that when we’re not achieving, something is wrong with us.
I’ll admit that my generation isn’t known for sticking it out when things get tough. I’m not saying everyone quits when their marriage gets hard, but we are certainly a generation that feels divorce is an option a lot more than my grandparent’s generation did. My grandparents have been married 55 years and I know some of the tough stuff they went through to get there. When I have a fight with my husband, I never hesitate to call my grandmother just to hear her say that there will be bad days but getting through them makes the good days that much more worth it. While I have no problem calling her, it always makes me nervous to admit to even my closest friends that things aren’t perfect. I don’t want to hear “so things are over?” just because we are having a bad day.
I have a few friends I know I can call and say life is just being life. Messy. Not easy. That we’re having a bad time and I need to cry, but that I know it’s just a bad time. Not a bad marriage. Those are the friends who helped me plot revenge on old boyfriends and who knew me when I had the best band geek wardrobe you could imagine in high school. Those are the friends we all need. The ones we aren’t afraid to be real with. They are priceless.
I just want to show you what real life looks like for a moment, at least for me….
I spend between 30 and 60 days a year with my husband. Seeing as how we only get 30 days of leave a piece each year and we share some of the same leave days, so we actually both have the same days off I’m not sure we’ve even hit that 60 day mark yet. We’ve been together 2.5 years and spent less than 100 days together. Every time I get in the car to drive the 502 miles to his base, I worry about how things will be. And every time he comes the 502 miles to me, I turn into Susie Homemaker trying to be the perfect Pinterest wife until I’ve stressed myself sick.
When I got married, I had an idea of what it would look like. (Will War and Marriage Ever Mix?) I didn’t think it would mean attending every command event alone, leaving when the DJ puts Jason Mraz on and going home to cry because my husband wasn’t there to dance with me. I didn’t think it would mean missing seeing him get pinned to Corporal and him seeing only a picture of me putting on 2nd class. I knew that being military we’d miss some milestones. I didn’t think that we’d miss every single one. Oh wait…he was there when I found out I put on 2nd because I got the phone call while I was on leave there for the USMC ball. Go us! We shared one major moment in 2.5 years!
My husband and I aren’t perfect. We fight. We married at 28 and 29, never having been married and having no kids between the two of us. We had never had to share space or finances with anyone else on a permanent basis. Trying to keep up separate lives with a combined finances and learning how to budget together from apart isn’t easy. We spend days being tense over discussing how to save for travel and what constitutes an emergency for dipping into savings. I have to learn how to discuss money when it’s an embarrassing subject for me and he’s learning not to get defensive when I worry about where money is going.
There are days that I read articles about how we need to put our spouse first and then I feel like I’m at the bottom of my husbands’ priority list. I feel like I come behind work, the gym, and his life where he’s stationed. Then there are days that I know I’ve put my husband behind work, church, school, writing, and my life where I’m stationed. Those days I walk past the white board on the fridge and see the love note my amazing husband wrote the last time he visited, I feel the need to tell him just how important he is to me and how sorry I am that I’m not the perfect wife we see on social media. He just tells me that I’m perfect for him and to stop trying to impress him because he’s already hooked.
So, there is a snapshot of my life. Not the pretty side I put on Facebook. Not the advice I usually write about. The real part. The part I need to be less afraid to share because I know I’m not the only one who feels like maybe they don’t measure up all the time…