Yesterday, I gorged myself on a bottle of wine, a soft prawn/ravioli/red pepper aioli appetizer, the duck breast with mango risotto and kale, a chocolate molten lava cake with chocolate ice cream AND lemon-cantaloupe sorbet with my husband, Jake. Last night marked the five-year mark of our wedding day and 11 ½ years of being a couple. Over our delicacies we talked about what we had accomplished during the last decade, about how our love originated in the naturally turbulent time of teenage-dom, about how we have not only grown and changed individually, but as a couple as well.
Although now we are thriving, during the past dim and dark year, we were merely surviving. When I was pregnant for the second time, a rift between us began to open, and continued to widen with every passing day. After adding sleep deprivation, new jobs with more hours, and learning how to parent two children, this distance increased exponentially.
At one point, I told Jake, “There are very few things you could do to make me stop loving you; I will most likely love you for eternity. But sometimes, I just don’t like you.” After existing in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality of marriage for months, we had stopped nurturing each other, ceased exploring and experiencing new things together. Our life consisted of putting all of our energy into jobs and kids, continual arguments that lead to nowhere, and starting each day headed in a different direction. In short, we had created a breeding ground for resentment and anger, and were heading towards a true separation.
Today I understand that the knowledge it takes to make a marriage flourish is not innate, similar to how conquering the challenges of parenting is not something we are born knowing. We don’t birth a child and suddenly have a magical part of our brain open up that enables us to not yell, or lose our patience, or get our kids to eat more than plain noodles and cheese for every meal. Books, parenting classes and internet forums all exist because we continually want to learn how to be better parents, or at least relish in the fact that other people have no clue what they are doing either.
Counseling and couples class reminded us that a marriage must be maintained daily if we want to give it any chance of succeeding. We have decided to develop a “marriage business plan” of sorts, outlining some common goals we want to tackle as a couple. Thinking about turning our dreams into reality is exciting, and I look forward to the conversation at dinner for our 10 year anniversary. But most of all, I am grateful to not only love my husband, but like him as well.