Marriage is a Lot of Work

After much pondering, going back and forth about the destiny of my marriage, I recommitted myself and chose to stay married to Gil and work out our problems. I didn’t do so flippantly. I spent hours in therapy, prayed, meditated, yelled and screamed, cried, spoke with people I respect — both married, single, and divorced. I read books, articles, blogs — you name it. It’s a process, Y’all. And some days I’m better at it than others, and no one said marriage was easy. The reality is that I still have a tremendous amount of love for Gil; I have no interest in being with anyone else, and after all these years I still have moments where I look at him and the attraction is so intense I practically salivate. I’ve written a lot about his contribution to our marriage troubles, but the other side is that I’m about as traditional as a full-body tattoo. Being a wife and mother come about as naturally to me as piloting the space shuttle.

So much of this marriage-fixing process is dependent on my mindset. I spent the majority of 2012, checked out, expecting to get a divorce and in all honestly, planning it. I went in to the New Year determined to actively make some changes, particularly in my way of thinking. I’ve made some improvements, but damn this is hard — some days it’s excruciating and right now I’m struggling. The thoughts pop into my mind — I hate this, I feel so caged, I want to run away, my life would be easier if I were single. Oh my lord, he’s so annoying. I want to claw his eyeballs out. I have to get the hell out of here.

I’ve written about some big things. I’ve dealt with the big things and have made my peace with them, for the most part. I feel as though I have coping tools/strategies for the big things. But OH MY GOD, there are ways of existing in the world with another human that make me bat-shit nutty — I’m talking about the little things.

The little things become the big things if we’re not careful. They add up, and if we don’t learn to tackle them, they are the malignancies.

My attitude has the potential to make or break our marriage, and when I’m stressed, I am difficult. Gil internalizes his stress and frustration, but I’m the opposite. When I’m pissed, everyone knows it. I feel as though if I don’t get it out, I will explode.

I’m also terribly perfectionistic. Poor Gil doesn’t stand a chance sometimes. One of our goals for the new year was to get back in a sex groove. Let’s be realistic, we have busy lives and it’s easy for that to get shoved in the junk drawer only to be forgotten, but it’s important. i’ve been guilty of saying that it’s important for Gil, but a healthy sex life is important for everyone, and I take a huge chunk of credit for running something that was once quite satisfying right on off in the ditch, so I feel the bulk of the responsibility for fixing it.

We originally agreed to hmm, what’s the best way to put this, engage, once a week, say every Saturday. Well, since the beginning of the year, before this past week, we had only engaged one time and it happened to be on a Saturday. So last week, I began feeling umm, interested. I have to seize these opportunities, so Tuesday morning, I asked Gil if he’d be up for it that evening. Like I said, I ran our sex life off in the ditch; Gil no longer initiates because he can’t tolerate anymore rejection from me, so if it’s going to get better, I have to set this all up. He agreed. I managed to stay in the mood — it took effort, but I stayed focused, followed-through and the deed was done. We engaged in some good quality time together; it was mutually satisfying; Gil awoke the next morning happy as could be. You might ask, well, sounds fabulous, what is the problem?

The problem is that the next morning all I could focus on were the things Gil was not doing. As in, the kitchen was a wreck and no children had been fed. I took a few extra minutes to shower (like ten minutes, tops) and I could hear Gil and the boys bouncing around and playing in the other room. BUT, when I showed up, no one was fed, dressed or anywhere close to being ready for school. Am I the only person capable of getting everyone out the door in the morning? I continued to seethe.

I don’t know. There is something deep inside of me that still uses sex for power, even with my husband, even though I very much enjoy it. In other words, I’m not sacrificing myself simply for his pleasure. It benefits us both, yet once the deed is done, very often I feel used and taken for granted. I want to scream, “I gave you the very best of myself last night, and you can’t wipe your post-coital grin off your face long enough to recognize that breakfast still needs to be made, snacks need packing, children need assistance getting dressed. STEP IT UP!! I’m not the only parent capable of getting this shit done!”

It would be a whole different issue if Gil got up and out the door. I understand that he has a demanding job, but he takes his sweet time getting out the door in the morning, and as long as he’s hanging around, I could use his help. At one point I could hear him playing his guitar, singing, and the boys were dancing and jumping off the furniture. Honestly, I’m just flat-out jealous. I would make an awesome dad — at least the kind of dad that Gil is. He’s fun, great at playing with the kids. Hell, he has a million wonderful qualities, BUT he sucks at keeping them on any kind of schedule because it’s not fun and not easy — at least in the short term. What he doesn’t understand is that we do some of these hard things while they’re little, it will seriously pay off in the long-run.

So, to wrap up. There was a time where I would linger in day-after-good-sex fury. I would replay the little annoyances in my head and wallow in my irritation. I did some of that this week, and we had a couple of morning explosions that left us all feeling crappy — not good. However, I refused to go down that path of convincing myself that I am not cut out for marriage. I was annoyed for a couple of days, but it was less severe, and last night I actually talked to Gil about how I was feeling. He listened and was receptive and didn’t try to convince me that I was crazy. Folks, this is progress. We’re doing our best to live in the present and not drag out baggage from our thirteen year marriage. We screw up, but we move forward.

I never imagined myself as a married person with kids. Gil and I are not planners. We’re both creative dreamers, big idea kind of people, and structure and routine make us feel like caged animals. Staying married takes work, and I’m ready to jump in with two feet.

16 thoughts on “Marriage is a Lot of Work

  1. I’m there where you are – 13 years of marriage and spent all of 2012 with one foot out the door. Welcomed 2013 determined to leave him…and then something changed. Looking forward to reading your blog.


  2. I can relate. Here I am married 30+ years and I still wonder if my life would be better with or without him. There are days I really wonder why I’ve stuck around. Not only do I feel taken for granted, most of the time I feel ignored. My final thoughts though, for me, is our lives are so intertwined we’d never be out of each other’s life; he’s still the one I call when I have a flat tire, or a bad day. I think divorce is hard, but staying married is too. Good luck on your journey.


    • Thanks, appletonavenue. It does stink to feel taken for granted and certainly ignored — I’m sorry. I’ve had to understand that for the last few years I’ve been so wrapped up in my own stuff that I’ve done plenty of ignoring him as well — I’m certain he has felt taken for granted. A big change that has made working things out easier is that Gil is in a better place emotionally — for various reasons that I hope to write more about soon. I’m catching up on blogs. Thinking of you and all the changes you’re dealing with. πŸ™‚


  3. Great work so far on improving things! Looks like you guys are making some progress. Maybe writing some sort of schedule with the kids might help?? Either way keep up the writing if you can, its good to see you back! x


    • Thanks, MMS. Good advice. I think we just need a permanent list in the kitchen of things that need to happen in the morning. It’s a process, and as the kids get older, hopefully we won’t have to keep them on track quite as much.


  4. Wow! Can someone say “one-eighty?” πŸ™‚ Soooo happy for you, GH! What a corner to have turned! πŸ™‚

    Okay, first things first. This: “I’m about as traditional as a full-body tattoo” made me laugh out loud. GREAT writing!

    Secondly, on a more serious note (for which you may not like me very much): The morning after sex Gil played with the kids, jumped around, and no one got fed or ready for school. There was no structure, which is something you feel very strongly about implementing in your kids’ lives. BUT… what if you let go of the need for structure? What if you made an exception, maybe once a week? (Like, say, after a night of great sex.) Would your kids’ lives be destroyed? Would yours? You said in your second-to-last paragraph: “Gil and I are not planners. We’re both creative dreamers, big idea kind of people, and structure and routine make us feel like caged animals.” Maybe this is why you’re tense: because you’re imposing routine, when it’s against your nature to do so. What if you raised your kids in a way that was more in accord with your natural instincts of how to live your own life?

    Okay, that was just something I thought about while reading your post. I’m sorry if I sound preachy. (Clearly I do NOT have all the answers — especially when it comes to marriage!) I am so happy to hear that you’ve made such positive, moving-forward steps, and that you still have such a great spark between you and your husband. You do sound so much happier, GH. Hugs! πŸ™‚


    • Oh, dear Blogventer, I could NEVER dislike you! I completely agree that I need to let go of my need for structure! You have no idea how I struggle with this. I’m constantly in a state of striving for balance between the right amount of routine and just enough spontaneity with my kids/family. When I read back over this post, I realized how rigid I sound. It’s tough – my gut tells me to ease up, but between Gil and me, someone has to implement some degree of structure and it always seems to fall on my shoulders. It’s mostly getting everyone to school in the mornings that really stresses me out — both kids are currently jumping on the trampoline in their Halloween costumes. See?! I’m not THAT rigid!:-)
      Maybe Gil and I need to stick to our Saturday night engagements and forget midweek sex. Thanks for the kind words. I do have a lot to be thankful for, and I feel like I’m in a better place. Big hugs to you. I know you’re working through a lot these days.


      • Whew! Glad you’re not upset! πŸ™‚ Yeah, lots happening on the emotional Roller Coaster from Hell that is my life these days. So… jumping on the trampoline… in their Halloween costumes…. in February…? That’s AWESOME! πŸ˜€


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