Spoiler Alert– Sam and I are not getting a divorce.
However, that doesn’t mean we don’t talk about divorce.
Let me explain. Both of us come from families with divorce. We are also a couple that got married at the ripe old age of 23, and as such, we believe we may be at a higher risk of divorce. I was one of the first amongst my childhood friends whose parents got divorced. My parent’s divorce changed me. I remember being a very young child and witnessing an intense argument between my parents over a head of lettuce that was in the “wrong” place in the refrigerator. Later, when my parents told us they were divorcing, the lettuce was the only thing I could think of as a reason. In my naive, childlike way, I thought if you fight, the relationship is over.
So, many years later, when my husband and I had our first big argument, I figured that was the end. This was the first time (but not the last) that we talked about divorce and how we both hoped to be “in it” for the long haul. Turns out a healthy relationship can have arguments and still move forward successfully.
Divorce is not a taboo topic in our relationship. It comes up from time to time and we talk about it. We talk about what might cause our relationship to end. We talk about how painful it would be to put our kids through that. We talk about what it would be like to have to share custody of our children and how hard it would be to raise kids alone. We talk about how heartbreaking it feels when one of our friends goes through a divorce. We talk about how we know our relationship has ups and downs and will even reference our vows and say “this is a worse time” when things feel extra hard. We talk openly about temptation and growing and changing together.
We vow over and over again to work hard at protecting the family we’ve made. We actively work at improving and strengthening our marriage. We turn into saps at weddings and celebrate when love wins. And we say yes every day to being honest and faithful.
We are not a perfect couple. We have conflicts and issues we are working on. Like, how to find time for our personal hobbies and when it’s “okay” to be on cell phones around our families. I’m super forgetful and often tell Sam several places to look for something before remembering it’s in an entirely different place. Sam is literal and sometimes this makes me crazy! Historically, we’ve always been basically opposites in everything. He likes scary movies, I hate them. He loves the city, I love the country. He’s an android user and I am a loyal Apple user.
We are opposite in every way, except for this one thing: we are both deeply committed to each other and the family we’ve made. We don’t want to become another statistic of a divorced family.
We believe we are not immune to divorce and so we talk to each other when things feel hard. In the last few years, we have weathered a few storms. Major moves and job changes, the death of loved ones, our parents divorcing again, a miscarriage and becoming parents. The birth of our second baby has tested our relationship in so many ways. We aren’t getting much sleep or relaxation, and our budget is tighter. We are also learning to parent a strong willed child. Sometimes Sam is up more with the bigger little than I am with the baby. It feels hard often. It’s easy to get swept up in the diapers, skinned knees, tears and endless episodes of Rescue Bots- and forget who we were as a couple BEFORE all this beautiful mess.
So we tell ourselves –
It won’t always be like this.
We’ll miss this.
We can sleep later.
At least we make cute kids!
It’s worth it.
We use humor often and laugh a lot.
We say “I love you” a lot.
And recently, after a particularly stressful night, he sat across from me, held my hand and said, “even though it’s hard, at least we’re in this together.”
That’s what makes my husband special in my eyes. That’s why I believe our marriage will last. We are in this together. He shows up over and over again to work with me on our relationship and the family we’ve made. My hope is by talking about divorce and other difficult topics, we keep the lines of communication open. It’s not always easy, but to us, it’s worth every awkward or uncomfortable conversation.
How do you and your spouse talk about your relationship? What do you do to keep it strong?