The Stories They Leave Out of the Marriage Manual by Maria’s Random Rants

Topic: Communication

Some days I look at my husband and think, “I can love this man a thousand years, in this life and the next.” Other days I find myself struggling to figure out how I’m supposed to stand him one more day. Marriage is funny like that. It’s like a roller coaster, complete with that sick-to-your-stomach-feeling you get when you catch a dip you didn’t realize was going to be so steep.

There really is a thin line between love and hate. I should know, my husband and I have danced on both sides more often than I’d like to count. On a few occasions I’ve just been one bad decision away from setting his clothes, his car – heck, sometimes his ass on fire. Good thing I know better. Least now I do.

The last few years of our marriage have been rough, which is saying a lot considering the first ten was chock full of cinematic worthy drama. I don’t doubt that the stories of my marital highs and lows would incite screenwriter Tyler Perry into writing part three to his ‘Why Did I Get Married’ movie series.

Let’s see – there was the stupidity of our early twenties, which entailed a lot of partying too hard; his drug dealer turned drug addiction years; quickly followed up with the I-can’t-stop-resenting-him period in my life. I almost forgot to mention in between all that mess every four years we managed to have another kid, all four before I turned 27.

In 2001 we settled down some, bought a house, and got bold enough to start a business. While we did well enough, the arguments stemming from the stress and our difference in management styles took a significant toll on our marriage. At the time I thought we’d outgrown fights where we hit below the belt, but stress like that took our arguments to a whole new level.

All things considered, if I let myself think about it too long I have a hard time reconciling the good with the bad. The lows were just so low. Truth is, even when you forgive a mistake it still leaves a scar and most of our scars still sting when you touch them. Needless to say, we do better when we keep the past where it belongs.

A lot of things have changed in the 17 years we’ve been together and not everything in our favor. At 19 years young you barely know who you are or what you want out of life, let alone who you want to spend the rest of your life with. That may be the biggest drawback to settling down at such a young age, you eventually grow up and come to realize that what fit you perfectly at 20, not so much at 35.

It’s hard to look at someone you’ve spent half your life with and try to wrap your head around how much has changed  between the two of you and how, when you’re not careful, those differences can create a divide that feels wider than an ocean.

Last summer my husband and I got as close as we ever had come to divorce. It took a whole lot of soul searching to decide how we were going to save our marriage and, more importantly, if we still wanted to. It was a most disturbing thing to look at divorce papers and realize 16 years of life and love with someone could be reduced to a two page list of  divided assets and a couple signatures on the dotted line. It was our wake up call. Marriage is hard, but divorce isn’t easier.

Sometimes it takes having to get that close to losing what you’ve forgotten means the most to you in order to realize you’ll do whatever it takes not to have to live without it.

Whatever the shortcomings of this relationship, there’s no denying my husband is the love of my life. It’s the one thing, even on our crappiest day, I’ve always been certain of. He’s helped me raise four children, one of them not his own, and another we adopted together. He’s my constant and my muse, my reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come since. On his best day my husband is no Prince Charming, not even a second rate boot leg, but even on his worst day he is still the only man I hope to spend the rest of my life with. That has to count for something.

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as forever. I fancy myself a realist so can’t say I believe in words that elude otherwise. What I do know is that this marriage is worth fighting for, tooth and nail, however steep the uphill battle. And dear husband, if you’re reading this, if you can meet me halfway, the universe just might make a believer out of me.

As for tonight, well, tonight I’ve been thinking. . . I can love that man a thousand years, in this life and the next.

12 Responses to “The Stories They Leave Out of the Marriage Manual by Maria’s Random Rants”
  1. Its so inspiring to hear that through all of your ups and downs you have stayed together and worked through it. I’m soon to be married in August and know that it won’t always be easy, but this inspires me to never, ever give up.

  2. Mona Andrei says:

    I hear you, sistah! When we’re young we think only Cinderella stories and sparkly pink unicorns. Truth is, life has nothing to do with either (Cinderella or sparkly pink unicorns). Life is volatile and relationships are work. Glad to see that you and your husband have stuck through the tough times together!

  3. TJ Alexian says:

    I’ve been having some hard times with my partner too, these past few years, but I agree with a combination of your two statements: I’m not sure that anything is forever, but I do know this guy is the love of my life 🙂

    • In marriage, as I guess with other relationships, you stick it out long as you can and learn one of two things: 1) you’ll either conclude the relationship is worth all the sacrifices to keep it or 2) love is supposed to feel better more often than it hurts and it’s time to cut your losses. I am hoping to God, Allah, and anyone else up there listening, that it continues to be #1 for me.

  4. Anne Katherine says:

    I, too, have been married for a long time and it is, indeed, lots of hard work.
    And this resonated w/ me because a friend of mine is where you were last summer, and I am seeing close up how very hard it all is. Marriage is wicked hard work, but man….divorce is some nasty stuff especially the closer it gets to being a reality. And so, so sad.
    But I would bet that you guys will make it because, as you say, your husband is the love of your life – and that, right there, is gold. Not everyone can say that.
    Your husband better read this — this is too good for him to miss 🙂

    • Hubby read it. Actually one of the things that came out last year was how much I resented how he never read any of my pieces. He’s not a reader, but still… He WAS the muse for many of my pieces. Since last summer he’s taken it upon himself to read, at least, what I kick out on my blog. Gold stars for his effort.

  5. Richard Wiseman says:

    My wife and I have split three times for a short while, but we love each other and are soul mates in the end, so we stay together. We’ve had the screaming matches and the terrible times and we’re still together. So that makes you about as right as you can be! Thanks for making me feel better. I always think it’s just us, but it isn’t.

    • I have never liked when couples draw up their marriages to be “just dandy”. I prefer real talk. Someone once told me marriage had, ““peaks and valleys that weren’t just measured in days, but at times measured in months. Marriage is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And the race to the finish line can be exhausting, but hopefully you both finish in the same place.” I LOVED that analogy. For my husband and I sometimes those valleys extended to years…but we’re still standing.

  6. Alexandra says:

    What a great and honest post, and I wish more people could come to your realization – “Marriage is hard, but divorce isn’t easier.” Having been on both sides of this, I completely agree. We all need to help remind each other that marriage IS hard work. Like Anne Katherine, I have high hopes for your success–a strong love for each other is the key that unlocks even the most stubbornly stuck barrier.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I’ve never believed that “love can conquer all” stuff, but I do think that a balanced combination of real love, hard work, patience, tolerance, persistent efforts, and the ability to forgive are characteristics of a relationship that has an honest shot to see the marathon of marriage through to the “till death do you part” of your vows.

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