I’m not good at being married. It’s a simple fact I’ve come to accept in life. I try. I really do. But as my husband and I mark our 8th anniversary today, I look back and acknowledge I am far from the “Good Wife”. And I realize eight years isn’t 50, but it’s an accomplishment to me.
I’ve been married before. And divorced. Swore I’d never do that again (the marriage or the divorce). But you can’t always control what happens with the heart, so when I walked down the aisle with Shawn, I did it with great hope. And in the past eight years, I can say it’s been a real roller coaster.
Getting through the good times is easy. Riding out the bad…not so much. Remembering the pain of divorce has kept me holding on at times when I truly wanted to let go. Our children are great motivation for staying together, too. But when it comes right down to it, I’m still married because I really want to be.
I fell for my husband fast. When we met, the last thing I wanted was a serious relationship. I was in a new city (a sort of “Leave it to Beaver Land” of other seemingly perfect families), working from home, not likely to connect with many other single parents who were lonely like I was. When I met Shawn, I was hoping to just have someone to go to the movies with every now and then, or maybe a cookout with our kids. I still remember one of our first conversations on the phone (they were marathons in the beginning—four hours or more!). I felt such a connection to this good-hearted guy. I can recall telling him I thought we were going to be great friends. And I remember him telling me he had plenty of friends—he was looking for something more. I had to laugh. I figured I could keep it light, but I was wrong.
It hit me early in the relationship, when my birthday rolled around and I was looking at spending it on my own, with my young son. I accepted that a card in the mail from my mom and dad would be the extent of celebrations. But Shawn surprised me. He showed up at the door with an ice cream cake (a family tradition in my house). And better yet, it was made of mint chocolate chip ice cream! This trivial little fact blew me away. I had only mentioned once that mint chocolate chip was my favorite. But this man LISTENED…he HEARD me and ACTED on it!
You have to understand in years’ past, my birthday had been forgotten, or the men who loved me had never “found time” to buy a gift. It may not have mattered to other women, but I grew up with a father who worshipped his wife, my mother, who went to the moon and back to make her happy every day, not just on her birthday. So it was always a tough pill to swallow when the guys I cared for couldn’t make enough effort to show they cared, even on my birthday.
But having Shawn bring that ice cream cake in my favorite flavor told me this guy was different. And it convinced me I wanted him to be more than a friend.
So, we dated, eventually marrying and now, eight years into the marriage, we have pretty chaotic lives. We’ve been through Hell in the past few years and I wasn’t sure we’d make it on many occasions. Even last week. As our lives got busier and our energy went in every other direction, we’ve neglected each other. I’ve missed my “ice cream man” and I’m sure he’s missed the “me” I was back when we met.
But we’re still holding on, still trying. That’s because we want to—not for the kids, not for finances—but for each other. We still have hope, after all these years. And at least for now, we still have each other.
So, I may not be good at marriage, or even close to earning the “Good Wife” title, but I’m still working on it. And so is he. And for that, I am grateful.