"It's Not a Fairy Tale." I wish someone had told me that years ago. My husband and I have a great marriage, but it hasn't always been so easy. We got married young. I was eight days away from turning twenty and he was twenty-one. We met in college and were so ready to spend our lives together. We just didn't know what that meant yet.
Within weeks of getting married, my husband got a job with a firm designing house plans. It was his dream to design homes, but at a cost...he was rarely home. He would stay late working on projects until three o'clock in the morning some nights (or I guess I should say days). I had envisioned this dream that being married would entail us spending all of our time together, yet, here I was eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner by myself. He was doing his best to provide for us. I mistook his absence as a way to have freedom from me.
A little over a year later, my husband was fired. He came home a wreck, but later that night, the owner of the company came to our door and said his decision was made in haste. He was remorseful and asked for my husband to accept his apology and return to work. Among the discussion of returning, the announcement was made that the company was uprooting and moving to another state. What? We weren't moving. My husband turned him down and decided it wasn't worth it to return. I was both scared yet thrilled. I was going to see more of my husband. So, we set off to creating his own business. It was hard, very hard. We were broke, and under much stress. Little did we know what was ahead for us. A few months later, I found out I was pregnant.
The first year of our son's life was hectic. My husband was busy with his own business, designing house plans for clients. In addition, he struck a deal to work with a contractor in the area. He oversaw the construction of every building constructed by the contractor as well as the designs of those he created. Once again, I felt alone...only this time, I felt like I was raising our son by myself. I was a new mother. Babies didn't come with manuals!
When he came home, he was tired from the long hours of work, and I was desperate to get some time to myself without a baby crying in my ear. I felt like my husband had it made! He got up in the morning, showered, and left for the day to have adult conversations, lunches with clients, and an overall quiet day. I usually didn't get a shower until he would come home. I cooked, cleaned, washed, burped, fed, cooed, and tried to soothe a crying baby. I didn't think to ask if my husband was under any stress. I only thought about myself. He was doing his best at what he felt he should do even though he had hard days with subcontractors, clients, and even me because when he walked in the door, I usually gave him a glaring look. It certainly didn't help matters that our sex life went askew. I already felt unattractive because I had gained nearly sixty pounds during pregnancy. Furthermore, I didn't want to be intimate after having a baby latch itself to me all day. My husband didn't see it that way. He thought I napped, read books, and played with the baby. He would see me spending all my time with our son, and he felt left out. He wanted to be close with me, too.
As I began to suffer from insomnia, I could feel myself spiraling into a depression. We were drowning in our own lack of communication and understanding for each other's needs. It wasn't until I snapped one day that we realized we needed a major overhaul on our marriage. I really hate admitting this about myself, but I left. It breaks my heart to remember my actions. I simply should have shared my feelings with my husband, asked for help, and told him how much I loved him and needed him there. I should have asked how he was feeling and what I could do to help him feel more important. Instead, I got on a plane and flew to Paris. I remembered how happy I was when I went to Paris with my mom many years prior. I wanted to relive that. I wanted to forget about all the strain and stress...all the diapers, the spit-up stains...all the cooking and cleaning. I wanted to be me again. I wanted to feel free.
The day I arrived, I realized my mistake. Within hours I called my husband bursting into tears and asked for the next flight home. Stepping off that plane when it arrived back in the States, felt like stepping into a new view on my marriage. I saw my husband there with our son strapped in his stroller. Both of them with this look of relief and confusion on their faces though my son was too young to understand or remember. Had I broken them both? Had I ruined my life? Those questions swirled in my head stinging my eyes with tears.
I was lucky to have a husband who loved me enough to let me go and loved me enough to forgive me. From that moment on, we began mending our relationship. We talked about everything. We shared our feelings and thoughts, and we have ever since. We learned how to work together as a team. There isn't a he/me anymore...there is a we. Today, we have two beautiful children, ages eight and five. And I can honestly say I am happily married with kids!
|Carol Ummel Lindquist, Ph.D.|
So many couples experience culture shock once their children are born. Their lives turn upside down. Wives find that they do most of the diaper changes, feedings, and regular chores around the house. This leaves them to feel unappreciated and overworked. They wait until the last minute to ask for help from their husbands, usually leading them to yell in frustration. Husbands may feel inadequate in helping with the child, so they focus on what they can do best, working. They stress over whether they are providing enough monetarily, not realizing they need to provide emotionally as well. Neither of them are mind readers! Without proper communication, most marriages head toward demise.
Dr. Carol Lindquist is a therapist who strives to bridge the gaps between the husband and wife. She says there are five stages of couples:
- Bliss Stage
- Differences Stage
- Identity Stage
- Friends Again Stage
- Bonded Stage
In her book and within her counseling of couples, Dr. Carol Lindquist brings awareness that while having children is a blessing, it can also be taxing on the marriage. This is not the child's fault but rather how the adults handle the situations. Do they handle them together or do they try to do them alone without working as a team?
To make a marriage work, communication needs to be open, listening needs to be instilled, and appreciation for each other should be an every day occurrence. My husband and I had to learn this on our own (thankfully we made it through), but maybe if we had seen this book, we could have avoided all those agonizing months of hidden resentment. If your marriage on the outside seems perfect, but inside you know it needs help, don't shy away from asking for it. If you wait too long, it may be too late.
Dr. Carol Lindquist wants to help. She has her book Happily Married With Kids: It's Not a Fairy Tale, her Couple Vision Weekend Retreat, and Couple Vision Webinars available. If you are interested in her Couple Vision Webinar, please leave a comment below or contact me privately through my email (located in my "about me"). I can arrange a FREE Couple Vision Webinar with her for you and your spouse. You may also visit her website at http://www.doctorcarol.com/ where you can buy her book or ebook. You may also purchase her book from Amazon.com by clicking the picture.