Marriage Is Like A Garden
Children change a marriage; that’s just the natural course of life. My husband and I met at a fairly young age. He was 19 and I was 20, and we met on the swim team at our college. I remember I was in the worst mood, because I did not want to go to our mandatory swim team meeting. I solely loved water polo, but being on our college’s water polo team meant also being on the swim team. So there I sat, grumbling with my friends about how much it sucked that we had to swim too (even though it was excellent training and turned out to be really good for us!) and I turned to one of my friends and asked who the tall guy was. She explained that he was on the swim team and was a year younger than us. Cheesy as it sounds, I was mesmerized. The entire meeting I don’t think I heard a word that was said. Later that day at our first swim practice, we had a kicking set as part of our warm up & I had forgotten to grab a kick board. I had strategically chosen the lane next to him (and made a few of my friends join me so it wouldn’t be obvious, ya know, because I’m cool like that. Ha!) and this was my moment. It was time to start the kicking set. I leaned over the lane line and snatched up his kick board and took off. To say he was less than pleased would be an understatement. But it worked! I got his attention and the rest is history.
We have grown together throughout our relationship, and throughout our marriage. And the reason for this post is because marriage is always changing. Especially once children enter the equation. My posts usually are about how children are always changing, but marriage does too. And sometimes it’s hard to catch up to the change. When my husband and I were first together, our lives consisted of college, the sports teams we were on, and partying. When I graduated, our relationship changed for the first time, as I was working in Human Resources while he was still in college. We worked through that change. It changed again when we were both working full time. And again when I resigned my job to stay home with our baby daughter. And it recently changed yet again when we just had our son a few months ago. And each time we have had to work on our marriage to adjust to the new change.
During our wedding, my dad gave a beautiful speech about how marriage is like a garden. You don’t just plant the seeds, sit back and watch your garden turn into something beautiful. Tending a garden is constant work. You have to weed it, water it, prune it and etc. Otherwise it will wither and die. You have to really dig in and do the hard work to see it prosper. And this is something that my husband and I constantly remind ourselves of. We can’t just sit back and hope everything will take care of itself. Sometimes (or a lot of the time) we have to take time for just the two of us and sit down and work on our communication. Or sit down and just bond together as a married couple, just the two of us and reconnect without one or both of of the kids needing us. Because it’s not just the romance that keeps a marriage alive. That “spark” isn’t what defines a successful marriage. Sure, you want to have romance and love in a marriage so that you’re not just roommates, but over the years the marriage evolves and becomes MORE. It involves romance, love, friendship, strength, compromise, and working towards a greater goal.
And in looking back at the almost decade that we’ve been together, I am so proud of us that we’ve gotten through each change together. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if one of us was still in one phase of life and the other wasn’t. For example, when we both were working full time, we were pretty over partying and going out at night. We had had our fill of it in college, and much preferred a movie night together curled up in our big faux leather recliner than out at a bar. But it would have been so much harder if one of us still wanted to go out and party every weekend like we used to. And I look at our marriage now, with a baby and a toddler and I am again glad that we take the time to talk and work through change. Right now our attentions are often focused on our children, because they’re so little and require a lot of attention. And so it’s the little things that keep us bonded.
It’s the inside jokes we have that make us laugh until we’re both leaning on our table and wiping our eyes. It’s the thoughtful things one of us does for the other, letting the other person know “I was thinking about you”. And I’m not saying we have it all figured out. Far from it actually. We are constantly ironing out the kinks from an argument, or hurt feelings or what have you. Because marriage (or a relationship) changes after you have kids. It just does. What didn’t use to irritate you may now drive you up the wall. A funny quirk can now be a huge pet peeve. And I really think it’s normal. Because it used to be just the two of you and now there’s this teeny tiny human demanding so much love and attention. It’s easy to get lost in that. So I encourage you new & seasoned parents (and myself) to take some time for your marriage. Go on a date just the two of you. Hold hands. Laugh. Split a bottle of wine and talk about funny memories. Go on a hike and ask about each other. Because eventually, the time will come where soon it will just be the two of you again; and you don’t want to feel like you’re just two strangers. So go and give your partner a great big hug and a kiss. And even if they forgot to throw the diaper in the diaper genie and you accidentally kicked a poopy diaper across the room (Me. This happened to me in case you can’t guess), because they’re still (hopefully) the same person that you fell in love with however many years ago.