The Seven Year Itch.
It was nine years ago.
My husband (then-boyfriend) and I were on vacation in San Miguel de Allende, along with his sisters and their spouses.
Our last night there, we headed out for a late dinner at the most romantic restaurant in the city. Seated around a large table, we were perched perfectly on the roof-top and under the stars.
We’d only been dating for a year, but I already knew that, if he let me, I’d love him forever.
With a quick glance, it was easy to spot the unmarried couple of the bunch. We couldn’t keep our eyes (or hands) off of each other, and I’m shocked no one suggested we get a god damn room.
Someone at our table laughed loudly and told us, “Oh, I remember when we used to be all over each other like that. My how things change after you get married.”
I blushed, and thought to myself…
Yeah right. Things will never change for us. Impossible. We’ll always feel this magic and these butterflies – no matter what.
* * *
A couple of months ago, we were out with a newly engaged couple.
It had been almost ten years since the night I ate chips and guacamole, and humped my husband’s leg under the stars.
Seven years married, we were now the ones sitting at the other side of the table.
A smile crept up on my face and, leaning in, I whispered to my husband, “Oh, I remember when we used to be all over each other like that. My how things change after you get married.”
* * *
March 11th made it official. We finally made it over that seven year hump everyone talks about. You know, the itch.
And, seriously, you guys, it’s been so easy!
You know, in a walking barefoot over open flames and rusty nails kind of way.
Because, here’s the thing.
That was easy.
But, being married?
That’s hard as shit.
Despite all that I was told, marriage is so much harder than I ever imagined it would be.
And, I say this as someone who is married to, and in love with, their best friend.
But, trust me on this, no amount of love can safeguard a marriage from its struggles, hardships, and low-points.
Because, for most of us, there will come a time when…
You love each other, but you don’t like each other.
You get bored.
You feel like roommates rather than a married couple.
Your heart aches for those feelings and flutters that come with first getting to know someone, and falling in love.
There are times when you’ll simply coexist. You’ll pass one another all day long, quickly running by to grab a diaper or prepare a bottle, without so much as a single touch.
You’ll mourn the freedom and ease that came with your independence.
You’ll become annoyed at things you once found OMG SO ADORABLE!
You’ll resent their opinions, views, and values when they collide with your own; You’ll take it personal.
You’ll take everything personal.
You will take each other for granted.
And, while these things aren’t always toxic in themselves, if left unsaid, they become straight-up poison.
Small things fester and turn into big, scary monsters.
The things left unsaid will simmer inside of you until, inevitably, the pot boils over and one of you finally explodes, and screams, “I just can’t do this anymore!”
And, this is the moment when you’ll finally hear all of the things left unsaid…it’s when you’ll start to listen.
Everything around you will stop.
You’ll pull back the rug and, one by one, sort through all that’s been swept underneath it.
You’ll look at what you have and all that you’ve built together, and you’ll try to envision your life without it, only to discover that the thought alone is too much to bear.
And then you’ll frantically search for the reset button, pushing it over and over and over again, like an elevator that’s gotten stuck.
After the feelings have been cleaned and gently put back together, you’ll discover that the butterflies never went anywhere, you were just unable to hear the flutter of their wings because of all the noise.
So, yes, marriage is hard.
But, if you’re lucky, it’s the best kind of hard.
I’ve learned so much about my husband these past seven years. And, I’ve learned just as much about myself.
Through his eyes, I’ve seen how defensive I am at times. I’ve learned how quick my temper is, and how completely irrational I can be when it comes to having serious discussions in which our opinions differ.
I take it personal.
But, I’ve come to recognize that most of these reactions stem from my insecurities. My anger usually has nothing to do with him. The issues, deep-seated, are mine and mine alone, and I’ve carried them with me long before I walked into this marriage.
(And, yes, of course he has his own issues, but that part of the story is not mine to tell.)
I feel like there’s definitely something to the seven year mark. It’s like I’m just now learning how to be married. Or, maybe, I’m just now learning how to be an adult in the good times and the bad.
During arguments in our early days, I would cry and shout, “You don’t care about anything I say. You never listen to me. I feel so alone!” And, after a couple of fuck yous, I’d stomp away, making sure to slam a few doors on the way out.
Finally, some years in, I took a long look in the mirror and realized that I hadn’t been listening to him either. I was so busy talking about myself and where I was coming from, that I never even bothered to ask where he was coming from.
It’s such a funny and odd thing we humans do – always shitting on the person that we love the most. We shout things at them we wouldn’t dare say to anyone else…only because anyone else wouldn’t stand for it. Anyone else might hate us if we showed them who we really are…if we showed them all of us.
Like, when I was pregnant with Leo, desperately clinging to my sanity, I got right up in my husband’s face and yelled, “I WISH YOU WERE DEAD.”
That’s an awful thing to say to anyone, and the worst kind of awful when it’s to the person you love the most.
Months later, when I was me again, the first thing I did was apologize for that awful outburst.
Babe, you know that I don’t really wish you were dead, right? Like, not at all. It was really me that I wanted dead. And I needed a punching bag, only one that would still love me after I punched it. I’m so sorry I went psycho on your ass.
When I sat down to write our anniversary post, I pictured it being all romantic, full of sweet and schmoopy words.
It was in that moment that I saw the big picture – when I saw the fact that, while I treasure the good times so much, it really is the hard times that have made us as strong as we are today.
I have shown him all of my cards.
Funny, loving, ugly, and hateful, he’s seen the whole deck…and he’s still here…loving and accepting all of me one day at a time.
And, to me, that is more romantic than anything.
Happy Anniversary to you, my sweet husband.
You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and there’s no one else I’d rather walk barefoot with…over open flames and rusty nails.