Eight Years

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Recently I read (on the internet, so it must be true) that couples who divorce were married for an average of eight years. Today is my husband’s and my 8th wedding anniversary.

And in the interest of keeping it real …. we almost separated this year.

But in the vein of “what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger,” I think that was a good thing. Because it brought up some things I think we were scared to admit. To each other and/or to ourselves. But hey, at this point, what else do we have to lose?

Finding the courage in those moments to be brutally honest ended up saving the relationship. Because love is wonderful, and love is necessary, but sometimes, love isn’t enough. Sometimes you realize your needs aren’t being met. Maybe they were needs you weren’t really conscious of. Maybe they are needs that you are still grappling with yourself.

But reaching this point of “I’m done” seemed to shake things loose. And once that happened, we could just walk away … or figure out if it was worth putting the pieces back together. And more importantly, how to put them back together. Because they can’t go back the same way.

Whenever we look at our wedding pictures, and see those crazy kids (KIDS! We were totally kids … 24 and 26), we joke that they don’t know what the heck they were getting themselves into. And our 30-something selves like to joke that we’re doing Marriage 2.0. This certainly wasn’t how we imagined marriage on April 21, 2007, however, for our 2015 selves, this works.

The difficulty is growing with someone you pick at a certain point [in your life]. That’s the built-in problem with long-term relationships: You get to a certain point and try to hold on to that, instead of seeing [the relationship] as an organism that’s moving and needs to be fed and re-examined. You try to maintain the status quo, and that doesn’t work.

Susan Saradon in THE WEEK, October 31, 2014, page 10

If we all continue to grow and evolve as individuals, our relationships have to as well. There will be growing pains. Nothing good comes easy. You can either grow together or grow apart. Sometimes it felt like we were growing apart. We still have more growing to do, so maybe someday we will grow apart, I’m not naive enough to think this is the end of any bumps in our relationship. And if someday we do decide that we’re better off not together, that’s OK. I hope we will have the maturity and self love to know when to walk away from something that can no longer work.

But for now, we both still love who the other person has become, and the potential we see in each other. And this works. Maybe not for everyone, but it works for us.

So here we are. Cheers.

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19 Comments on “Eight Years”

  1. Love the honesty in this post.

    My aunt once said that she thought all marriages should have a regular “contract renewal” where people are basically forced to reassess whether they want to continue to be in a relationship with another person. I kind of like that idea.

    Jason and I have been married for almost 12 (!!) years. We were babies when we got married. We’re still figuring out who we are now over a decade later and how our relationship has changed. Definitely still bumps but it’s always better when we can acknowledge them.

  2. Happy anniversary!!! Same as Erin, I love the honesty in this post. Adam and I will have been married for five years next month, and it is amazing how much we are still learning about each other to this day. Marriage is truly an ongoing journey.

  3. Year 7 is the worst. By far. If you can get thru that, you can get thru just about anything.

    And the only reason couple are married 8 years is cuz they throw in the towel during year 7, then it takes them a bit to get that Divorce Train rolling.

  4. How good does it feel to finally get some of this out there? I feel like people don’t talk about the bumps in the road nearly enough (and why would we, while painting perfect pictures on social media and the like?), but as you’re going through said bumps, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone.

    I’m glad that you and Robert were able to find something that worked for you, and I hope you’ll be happy together for a very long time. In any situation like that, it’s just a matter of whether or not you both want to put in the work to save what you have, or if it seems like you’re better off apart. Obviously you and I came to very different conclusions about that, but I think we’re both pretty happy with the outcome.

    1. I think one of the reasons we don’t always talk about the bumps isn’t so much to paint a pretty picture as it is respect for privacy. Because not only am I sharing my private life right now, but I’m sharing my husband’s private life. But hopefully I’ve done it in a way that he doesn’t feel violated.

      Also, regarding the conclusions we each came to … I think it also matters if that OTHER person is also willing to put in the work. In some cases, Robert was the one that was still willing to do the work, and I was the one who needed convincing that it would be worth it.

      1. Oh, totally. And that’s why I haven’t shared too much about my divorce. I’m an open book on my side of things, but it’s not fair to analyze an entire relationship on my blog, in a very one-sided way probably. But I guess it’s just nice to know that not everyone is perfect, you know?

        And I agree, both people need to be willing to try and put in the effort. In my case, I felt I had tried and put in tons of work for years, and I was done. Maybe I could have tried harder, but maybe after a few weeks/months/years things would have ended up the same way and I’d feel like I had wasted even more time. But you both recognized you had something worth saving and fighting for, and that’s huge (twss).

  5. “Because love is wonderful, and love is necessary, but sometimes, love isn’t enough. Sometimes you realize your needs aren’t being met. Maybe they were needs you weren’t really conscious of. Maybe they are needs that you are still grappling with yourself.”

    Obviously I can’t speak in the context of a marriage, but I think this is SO critical in a relationship with anyone significant to you, whether that person is a spouse or partner or best friend or whatever. I don’t know why we insist on living in this fairytale world of believing that “love is all you need,”–maybe because it’s a lot nicer and easier to think that happy squishy feelings are all that it takes to maintain something–because in my experience, love of any variety has never been enough to sustain a relationship alone, because love is NOT all that I need. I need support and reassurance and attention and reality checks, and while those things may come from a *place* of love, I don’t think love alone can keep much of anything alive. I also think it can make a world of difference to have someone around–ideally someone who does love you, so they can give you those other things in the context of love–while you’re going through that “need discernment.” Some of the most basics needs I have I’ve only figured out in the context of a relationship, romantic or otherwise. And while going through that process can be emotional and challenging and difficult and painful for everyone involved, I think it also shows which relationships are worth fighting for, where your values lie, what’s important to you — and a lot of times, at least in my experience, staying with someone through that makes your relationship stronger in the end.

  6. Beautiful post, Maggie! Marriage is seriously, seriously hard, and it takes a lot of guts to admit that you’re struggling with your marriage. I’m so glad you and your hubby were able to figure out where you needed to go and that things are working out for the best. Thank you so much for sharing this raw, unfiltered post. Loved it.

  7. I love the honesty of your post. I think people that aren’t bloggers sometimes don’t understand the theraputic nature of blogging. I’m not married so obviously I haven’t been there. But my parents have been married for 38 years. And I’ve seen some friends that are a little older that are going through divorces. I think it’s really hard when you do marry young because you both are inevitably still going to change. People aren’t the same in the early 20’s to their early 30’s. I think that there will always be bumps in the road. What I hear people say is that the hard part is learning to handle the bumps and learning how to “put the pieces back together”. As much as I wish I were married and wanted to be married by now, I sometimes think there are definite advantages to have waited as I think Derek and I are pretty grown and independant adults. But that’s also the hard part…learning to merge two grown independant adults lives together! lol. Good luck to you and Robert. I wish many happy years for both of you!

    1. It’s interesting you bring up your parents. My parents have been married for almost 41 years (whoa) and growing up, it always looked so easy to me. I never really saw them struggle. I think that gave me a very rose-colored view of marriage and romantic relationships. Maybe it would have been better for me to know that they too had to work at creating a happy marriage. Although I am so very thankful that they definitely did give me an example of a loving, supportive, happy marriage, because some folks don’t see that growing up 🙁

      1. Oh my parents show lots of love. But they showed some fighting too. So I did see that. I can’t compare my relationship to theirs at all. But just like everyone, they had to work for it. They love each other and want to stay committed to each other. It’s hard to know when something is still worth fighting for and when it is time to move on. You love the other person, you don’t want to give up or quit, but when is the right time, you know? Good luck Maggie! Love ya!

  8. I, too, love the honesty of your post. And I think it’s interesting that you just mentioned your parents – mine will celebrate their 40th anniversary next week, and I agree that it has also given me a very “rose-colored” view of marriage. Very rarely have I seen them struggle/argue/etc. So when I got married, I suppose I didn’t anticipate the bumps along the way. For me, I had to learn how to respect Mike’s style of communication. I am very much a “talk it out now” type of person, whereas Mike needs space. We’ve been married almost six years, and it’s seriously taken me this long to accept that we have different needs sometimes. Anyway, I just really appreciate your honesty, and wish you and Robert a very happy anniversary!

    1. Robert and I had a very similar conversation a few weeks ago. I was like “why can’t you just talk to me when something bothers you! you’re such a closed book!!” and he was like “can’t you give me a few hours to process my thoughts???” me: ” ………. oh”

    2. Meghan – that’s how derek and I are. I immediately want to talk it out and he doesn’t. It’s very challenging for me just to “stop” and not escalate the arguing! I’m trying!

  9. Happy Anniversary! I love that you opened up and shared about your year and I’m glad you’re on the other side of it. Rich and I are almost to 3 years and have been dating for 6 and have definitely been through waves! We had some bumps after my Mom passed and during our first year- WOOF that was tough. I’m sure they’ll be more, but I think the most important thing is constantly making the decision to continue to put the work in.

  10. Happy anniversary! And thank you for sharing! Since I’m basically an expert now after being married for 4 months, oh wait no I have no advice to give. This past year has definitely been challenging for us. I like having the time to process my thoughts and feelings when we are arguing and Matt tends to be the one to want to talk about it right away. When we were doing long distance I always had that space to think so it’s been quite the change to have him right there and wanting to talk right away! i guess it is always about adaption, right?

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