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.

Getting married?

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.”

I know.

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.

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Anything you can do, I can do better….

My kid started school a couple of weeks ago. Same Montessori school where I taught before I had Luca. You know, around the same time I used to shower and leave my house. Adventurous stuff like that.

The super skinny nice room parent sent me a super nice email welcoming me to the class and asking me if I had any questions.

I was about to reply back to her, something like, “Thanks so much! I used to work there. In the room next door.”

And then I stopped myself. Why not just tell her thanks so much!, and leave it at that?

Then I was all, “Why are you such a passive aggressive little bitch, Allison?

And then I was like,”Why are you attacking me again, me?”

AAAAAnyways.

I began to tell my husband this story last week over our anniversary dinner. Mid-way through,  he was all, “It’s because you’re a one-upper, babe.”

I saw him try and back peddle a little and then I saw him remember that it was my lady time of the month.

Confident that there would be no tapping of anyone’s ass,  he took a bite of steak and said it again. “You’re a one upper, babe.”

And of course I was all, “Hold the goddamn phone just a goddamn minute there, mister!” And just as I was about to argue with him it hit me…

Holy Fuck.

I am a one-upper!

Husband: Yeah, don’t you remember when we first starting dating? I would crack my back and you would try and crack yours louder right away? REMEMBER?!

Me: That’s what you are basing this name calling opinion on? I already told you that I would only crack my back because I saw you do it and it reminded me that I wanted to do it. GAH! Why are you being so mean to me?! It’s our anniversary. Do I look fat? It’s our anniversary. Whatever. I’m not even hungry. I wanna go home.

But, alas, this isn’t the first time I have thought this about myself. I’ve just never asked myself why.

Please let me explain, before you get all, “Why are you such an uppity whore?” on me.

It’s not like this:

Lesser person: I shit silver.

Me: I shit gold.

It’s more like this:

Other person: I shit silver.

Me: Oh. my.  Gawwwwd! I shit silver, toooooo! Weird! * high five *

I think, or at least hope, that we all have a tendency to do this at times. Cut people off because we are so anxious to talk about ourselves.

Not in a narcissistic way, necessarily.  More in the hopes of gaining someone’s approval and/or  friendship, by showing them our common ground. That we can identify with them. Empathize.

I get pretty nervous when I meet someone. I talk a huge game, and I have all these glorious, witty things I am going to say!

But, when the moment comes?

I. Got. Nothing.

My mouth gets dry. I talk A LOT of miles per hour about nothing. And I laugh loud and weird. My hair, that was perfectly blown out five minutes before, even starts looking like shit.  Sometimes I look fatter, too. And why in the hell did I pick this outfit? I can’t pull this look off!

It’s all of these insecurities quirks that lead to my occasional one-uppedness and tendency to talk too much.

* Sigh *

Don’t get me wrong, I think I am a great listener. You can come cry on my couch anytime. I love my friends and I am always there for them.

But, I need to listen more often in everyday situations.

I need to start hearing someone when we meet and they tell me their name. Instead of thinking of myself and what I am going to say next.

Because it’s true.

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others thought of you, if you knew how seldom they did.

Crap.  I think I totally just quoted Dr. Phil.

Four years and counting…

My husband and I have been together for seven years now.

We have been married four years today!

We had many fun adventures together before we were married (mawwied? yes, mawwied!). Hopping on planes,  traveling across the country for nights of great music and camping.

Vacations were easy then. Carefree. We didn’t have to worry about babysitters or, “OMG what if something happens and we don’t make it back home.”  This meant I could devote all my time waiting for my husband to fall asleep so I could take funny pictures of me harassing him.

Finally, after living in sin together in our cute little rental, the question was popped.

Spoiler alert.

I said yes!

I made him pose for cheesy couple pictures with me, which is so not his thing!!

I  tried to put into words just how much he means to me.  It was not easy.

On March 11th, of 2006, the big day arrived. Both of us taking on our usual roles. Him, the strong, silent and loving one. Me, the loud, loud and loud one (and very happy!).

We didn’t want a traditional wedding. We didn’t plan on a first dance.  Thankfully, our band surprised us with one. They played “What a Wonderful World”, and we danced. And I bawled. And it was so perfect. My world was wonderful because he was mine. And legally so, sucka!

We should have been off to Hawaii for our honeymoon the day after our wedding.  We missed our flight and had to stay an extra night in Houston. We refused to go back home, opting to check into a hotel and fly out the next day. We laughed it off and made the best of it. We were together.

We finally made it to Hawaii the next day. Precisely one day before I cracked my kneecap in half walking to the pool climbing a mountain.

He spent a week pushing me around the resort in a wheelchair, which I kind of liked because I am one lazy bitch.  I still wore my sexy honeymoon lingerie.  And though my strut was more of a hobble and, well, there were the crutches, it was perfect. We were together.

Oh, and I got us a shit ton of Vicodin for our vacation. Score!

Married life before we had our precious baby boy was so simple. We were still able to jet away to Mexico or Vegas to party with our friends. And laugh at them when they passed out from having too much to drink.

We decided to have a baby.  I got pregnant right away. I was thrilled and terrified.  I miscarried a month later.  My husband was amazing.  He was everything I needed.

Except for a baby.

We got pregnant again the very next month! I was thrilled and terrified. And, apparently, I blamed everything on George W. Bush.

I began having contractions at 27 weeks. I was in the hospital for 3 days and at home under house arrest for 10 weeks.  I had a subcutaneous IV in my thigh, which delivered medicine to slow my contractions. I pretty much would have gone insane without my husband there. I thought this was the worst thing in the world. Did I really want to be a mom? I was not sure why I was even doing it.  Until I met him….

Then I realized I would have walked through hell and back to get to that moment.

I will never forget my husband’s face the first time he met our son.  He said to him, “Hey buddy!!!” with so much joy in his voice and such a smile on his face, I thought his head would explode. It takes my breath away and makes me cry to this day when I hear that “Hey buddy” in my head. My son is so lucky to have him as a daddy.

Ten days after that perfect day, the worst thing in the world happened. I lost four of the most important people in my life.

I have no idea how I would have made it through this without my husband. Amazing husband + Zoloft = you will survive, yo. He just has a way of calming me down. His presence alone does it. No words are really needed.

Putting up with me is not always easy. I am dramatic. I am stubborn. I can be really defensive. I talk way too much. I leave cabinet doors  and drawers open all over the house. I am crazy disorganized and a total scatterbrain. I have panic attacks on airplanes. Then I drink too much on said airplane.  I am pretty much like having a second child sometimes.

But, hey, when I fuck up,  I bake things like this.

Sometimes I embarrass him. I am loud. I say inappropriate things. It’s sometimes hard for me to be serious. I will also cop a feel any chance I get.

We sure have made ourselves a beautiful little family. I love us so much. I can’t believe this is my life.

Eventually, I do want to add to it. But, not quite yet. I want to enjoy this. The right now. It will never be the three of us again.

I love my husband way more than I think he knows. I hope I tell him enough. I mean, I tell him I love him all the time, but do I show it like I did in the beginning?  The sweet things I used to do for him daily seem to get put on the back-burner way too often.  And it’s not because I don’t want to do them, but because I am still figuring out this crazy mom/wife/me juggling act. Cliché, much?

When I first met my husband, an overwhelming feeling of peace came over me. It was hard to explain.

Our dog, Greta, used to do this thing.  At the end of the day she would jump on the bed, curl up in a little bawl and let out a deep sigh of contentment, as if she was thinking, “Thank God I made it here.”

This is how I was finally able to explain how my husband made me feel.  I told him once that he made me do the “Greta sigh”.

We had our wedding bands engraved when we got married. Mine says, “Even breathing felt…”, and his says, “Like something new.”

Exactly.

Thank God I made it here.