Reflections on 10 Years of Marriage (And One Piece of Advice)

 

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Surprisingly (or not), I still get questions, comments, and emails about this relationship post I wrote two and a half years ago. Readers ask how I ultimately made my decision to marry Mr. Wonderful (which happens to be 10 years ago today) and how we make it work.

When Mr. Wonderful and I first got married, I actually used to be jealous of other couples. Those that unflinchingly cuddled in public and would sneak kisses in front of friends. The husbands who waxed poetic about their wives on Facebook. The wives who talked about how their thoughtful husbands planned a surprise getaway for the weekend, just because. We were never them, Mr. Wonderful was never that, and part of me used to wonder if something was wrong with us, or me. Was it because I married a friend versus a lover? Was there something amiss in my love? In his? Did I (we) make a mistake?

A few years into our marriage, we hit a lull. It seemed like night after night, we had nothing to say to each other. And then we would watch a TV show or Mr. Wonderful would spend the rest of the night playing a computer game. Eventually there came times when I would go out with friends almost every night, just to see if he even cared or noticed (and he didn’t on both accounts). I didn’t expect marriage to be an ongoing adventure, but I also didn’t expect or want it to become a roommate agreement. We went to therapy and that helped, but then we’d stop and our progress would too.

I say this not as a representation of all marriages, but this was ours. At least, for awhile. I have met people who have described an amazing chemistry they experience with their spouses, so perhaps that kind of long-term relationship is possible. Ours was not that.

We eventually found common ground, in the form of our marriage crisis. When you reach a point in your marriage that forces you to ask, “So are we in, or are we out,” you pause everything else in life to find the answer to that desperate, ultimate question.

As we searched for how we would individually respond, our vows took on a new depth. So this is what “for worse” means. Oh. If only we had known.

Ultimately, I made the decision to stay. Despite his (and my) flaws and sins, I realized what I did have in our marriage was the unwavering support of my husband. Whether it was through depression, through job changes, or simply following a life calling, he stuck by me even when it affected him, too. I can’t imagine anyone else who would have been a better helper through my chronic foot pain this past year, whose steadfast loyalty has gotten me through some of the toughest of times. And though his love doesn’t involve smothering me with kisses in front of friends, it does involve working late hours so I can be free to have a job of my choice. He doesn’t write love letters, but he currently does nearly all of the chores and puts our daughter to bed.

Looking back at my 20-something self, I would tell her that despite all that would lay ahead in marriage, she should stay. Keep trying, as long as your partner is willing to do the same. She’ll be glad she stuck it out. Because so far, I know I’m glad I did.

What’s the best marriage or relationship advice anyone has ever given you?

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A Letter to My Husband (on Father’s Day)

Fathers Day

Dear Husband,

It’s your first Father’s Day, and I’ve been feeling the pressure to write something especially heartwarming.  Perhaps some words about love, followed by sweet musings of parenthood, then signed with an XOXO.

And yet as I sit here, wondering what to say, I find myself missing us. I miss the closeness I used to feel, when there was freedom to focus on just you, and how your day went, to hear the latest funny story without being half distracted by whether or not our daughter needs another bottle.

[Read more…]

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Should I Have Kids?

Photo of nine month baby crying, isolated

I was never one of those girls who planned on getting married or dreamed of her wedding day. But then I met Mr. Wonderful, and spending the rest of my life with him just made sense. I warned him, though, that I didn’t care about a house and I wasn’t sure I wanted kids. Ever.

[Read more…]

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How We Got Rid of 400-Square-Foot Worth of Stuff

Thanks to my Mom, I always considered myself a fairly minimal person – regularly donating things to Goodwill, purging what I haven’t used in awhile, and only buying something new if I got rid of something else first. As a subscriber to Real Simple magazine, I knew all the tips to making life simpler. Mr. Wonderful, on the other hand, likes to keep everything on hand for a “what if” situation. When we first got married and were packing up his bachelor pad, I found a 1-inch piece of Velcro in a box.

“You can’t be serious,” I said, dangling the white strip in his face.

“You never know when you might need it,” he insisted. I rolled my eyes. Heaving a sigh, he tossed it in the garbage.

Next, I eyed a dusty box of mints. “We’ve been dating for over two years and I’ve never seen you eat these.”

mints [Read more…]

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Weddings, Estrangement and Hard Love

HardLoveMy only sister is getting married this week. As happy as I am for her, I’m also filled with anxiety for her big day. You see, on my own wedding day nearly eight years ago, my mother never showed up.

The weeks leading up to our engagement, my mother gave me an ultimatum to choose between Mr. Wonderful or herself. And while I had spent most of my life trying to be “a good girl” in order to earn her love, I didn’t want to give up the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I didn’t love her less. I just chose to stand up to her, for the first time in my life.

[Read more…]

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Why I Married Someone I Wasn’t Attracted To

BestFriend

It wasn’t love at first sight.

Or the second. Or the third.

After maybe the twentieth time we hung out together (and 3.5 years later), Mr. Wonderful took an interest in me because I pretended to smoke a french fry at a group dinner with mutual friends (classy, I know).

By the time we went on our first “date,” I still wasn’t interested in him. To be fair, I thought we were going on a date as “friends.” If I had known better I would have declined altogether instead of leading the poor guy on.

But he persisted. And even though I was not attracted to him, I eventually decided to give the potential relationship a try. I let my brain win over my hormones. He was a good guy. My last boyfriend treated me badly. Why not?

This is where most people whom I have told this story to get confused. You mean you dated and then eventually married someone you didn’t feel any initial chemistry with? How does that work?

[Read more…]

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What Does “For Better Or For Worse” Really Mean? (Part Two)

Marriage…this story is a continuation from this post.

Two years after my battle with depression, we had a marriage crisis. I don’t know that any marriage is immune from having one. I do have friends who seem like they never fight, and agree with each other on just about everything. Perhaps they’re just really low-maintenance. Perhaps they’re hiding from the truth. In our case, we were living in denial. We had been brushing things away, thinking they were no big deal, when in fact we were sweeping it all into an enormous pile that became the elephant in the room.

[Read more…]

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And…Life Unrefined is back!

Dear Readers,

As many of you know, my Life Unrefined blog disappeared this past June. And while I grieved over the loss of two years of work, I also seized the opportunity to take a rest and rethink the purpose of my blog. I originally started a fashion blog because I wanted to encourage other women to embrace themselves and their natural beauty. Not in the overly simplistic, “You’re fine, just love yourself!” sense, but because I battled with body image and self-esteem for most of my life. It’s still a struggle to not feel intimidated in a room full of women who seem so confident and self-assured.

Yet while I loved writing for my blog and meeting other fashion/beauty bloggers, something began to nag me. You see, I enjoy shopping and talking about style, but I realized I wanted to talk about other things, too. Who I am is so much more than just what I wear. I wanted to talk about the beauty and struggles of marriage, my love of traveling, and the journey in my Christian faith. I know that not everyone will want to read about all of those things, but ultimately I have decided that the blog needs to be a true reflection of myself.

So I hope you will stay around as I begin again. I value the friendships I have made through this blog, both in life and online, and look forward to continuing that with you!

Very best,

Jen

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