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Mary's Moments Blog Post

Marriage Reality

As my daughter's wedding anniversary approaches this month, I've been thinking about the institution of marriage. Looking at a host of different insights -summing up the fantasies and realities.  Exploring different perspectives, blending dreams with the truth, and uncovering more along the way. I found it impossible to keep this topic short and sweet - there is just so much to share.


When people say "I do," they hope for a truly fulfilling marriage.   We all know a wonderful marriage is built on friendship where both partners care for each other and share mutual respect, affection, and admiration.

 

However, there are times when all but seems to exist leaving only loneliness behind. The feeling of being alone even when you’re in a relationship can be quite painful and is sometimes felt from time to time at different points throughout lasting relationships.

 

Marriage is often seen as the ultimate companionship and a sacred promise of love. But for some, it can also bring deep loneliness. Despite the promise of love and support, reality might not meet these expectations, leaving partners feeling isolated and disconnected. It goes beyond just being physically apart; it’s about feeling emotionally distant and lacking intimacy. It's feeling unseen, unheard, and misunderstood, even while living together.

 

It isn’t just an emotional problem; it can also affect your health.


There are several reasons why people feel lonely in marriage. Poor communication or lack of meaningful conversations can cause emotional distance. Boring daily routines with no excitement can make partners feel lonely and disconnected. Unresolved conflicts or unaddressed issues build emotional walls, making isolation worse. Differences in personal growth or life goals can also separate partners emotionally. Stressors like money problems, work pressures, or family conflicts can strain the marriage increasing loneliness and then kids well.........let's just say........ as much love and joy that comes with parenting, it can at times, put quite a strain on the relationship.


Signs You Might Be Feeling Lonely in Your Marriage:


When you and your spouse aren't having meaningful conversations and tend to avoid important topics - may indicate an emotional disconnect in your relationship. Communication plays a crucial role in understanding each other's feelings and bridging the gap. Also, if you're spending more time away from home or avoiding your spouse, it could signify loneliness or unresolved conflicts. Instead of distancing, try addressing these issues directly with affection and support. A decline in sexual intimacy can also indicate emotional disconnection. Identifying triggers can help in finding solutions.

It's unfair to put all the eggs in one basket though.


Relying only on your partner to meet all your needs—as a best friend, confidant, and lover—can lead to disappointment and stress for both. It's important to have other sources of support and joy. Research shows that having friends outside the relationship can provide valuable support, especially during tough times.

 

So, what sets apart a fleeting relationship from one that endures through the years? And how can we create those qualities in our own relationships?  Of course, there’s research on this stuff.  One study suggests some (maybe not so obvious) traits found in couples who stay together.

 

Understanding Your Partner - really getting each other. Knowing what makes your partner happy, what upsets them, what they dream of, and what they're afraid of helps you be there for them in a caring and supportive way. It's about making them feel safe to share their feelings without worrying about being judged.


Being There for Each Other: In this study researchers looked at couples who stayed together for years. They found that the ones who stayed connected both physically and emotionally were more likely to stick together. They had the habit of turning towards each other about 86% of the time. Even just facing your partner during an argument or saying, “I understand how you feel” can make a big difference.


In longer marriages, couples notice when the other is reaching out for attention. It could be as simple as chatting about their day or helping out with small tasks. They make sure nothing gets in the way, like phones, and if they are busy, they promise to catch up later.



One of the most powerful art pieces from Burning Man: A sculpture of two adults after a disagreement, sitting with their backs to each other. Yet, the inner child in both of them simply wants to connect. Age has many beautiful gifts but one we could live without is the pride and resentment we hold onto when we have conflicts with others. The forgiving, free spirit of children is our true nature . Remember this when you feel stubborn.


Working Through Tough Times: After a fight, it’s important to come back together and sort things out. Ignoring problems or hoping they'll vanish won't make a marriage last. It's about being honest and working through things together. Sharing our feelings helps both to feel understood and valued.


Knowing Yourself and Finding Balance: Understanding yourself is key. If you don’t know what you need or what makes you tick, it’s hard to explain it to your partner. Taking care of yourself, whether it’s some alone time, going for a walk, or hanging out with friends, helps bring positivity into the marriage.


Accepting the Ups and Downs: Marriage isn’t always smooth sailing. Conflicts are normal, but it’s how we deal with them that counts. It’s a team effort that evolves over time. As long as both keep showing up for each other, relationships can keep growing and thriving.


After 33 years of marriage, I can say it's been a ride of highs, lows, and everything in between. There have been moments of pure joy, like when our children were born or when we achieved a big milestone together. But there have also been tough times, times when we argued over trivial things or faced major challenges that seemed insurmountable. It's not always easy, and there were moments when we felt disconnected (lonely), when communication faltered, and when we questioned if we were still on the same page. But through it all, we've learned to navigate the twists and turns together.


We've learned that marriage isn't always sunshine and roses; it's about weathering the storms, holding each other up when things get tough, and finding strength in each other's love. And despite the bumps along the way, I wouldn't trade our journey for anything.


At the end of the day, we have a bond from laughter shared and memories created that truly defines our marriage.  As we continue to face the never ending challenges of life together, I'm grateful for every moment, both the good and not so good, because they've all played a part in shaping our love story.


Marriage Myths

We know fairy tales like "happily ever after" aren't real, but many still hope for it. I found it interesting that some people actually do believe some of these myths:


Myth #1: Marriage Will Solve All My Problems

Marriage on its own will not fix all issues. We need to talk about expectations for the relationship.


Myth #2: We Should Live ‘Happily Ever After’

Thinking marriage will always be perfect is unrealistic. Every relationship has tough times. Accept that everyone is different.


Marriage is not 50/50 - divorce is. Marriage has to be 100/100.


It's not splitting everything in half but both partners giving everything they've got. In arguments, (and there will be many over the years), there won't be a "winner" and a "loser". We're partners in everything so we'll either both win or both lose. Work together to find a solution.


Myth #3: My Partner Should Fulfill All My Needs

Relying only on our partners for everything isn't fair. Keep up friendships outside the relationship, and seek help if needed. Be surrounded by friends who strengthen the marriage. Marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time. It's usually a husband and wife taking turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak.


Myth #4: Love Is Enough

Love is important, but it's not the only thing a marriage needs. Communication, trust, and effort from both is also necessary. Always answer the phone when your husband/wife is calling. When possible, try to keep the phone off when together. Make time together a priority. Budget for a consistent date night. Time is the "currency of relationships", so consistently invest time into your marriage. Give your best to each other, not your leftovers after you've given your best to everyone else.


Myth #5: Marriage Should Always Be Easy

Relationships take work.  Talk through problems calmly and take breaks if needed. Make laughter the soundtrack of marriage. Share moments of joy. And even in the hard times, find reasons to laugh. Don't put your marriage on hold while you're raising your kids either or else you'll end up with an empty nest and an empty marriage.


Myth #6: My Partner Should Change to Meet My Expectations

Expecting partners to change completely isn't realistic. Focus on what you have in common and accept each other's differences. Choose to love each other, even in those moments when you struggle to like each other. Love is a commitment - not just a feeling. Learn from other people, but don't feel the need to compare your life or your marriage to anyone elses.


Myth #7: A Passionate Relationship Should Always Be Intense

Feelings of passion change over time. Focus on emotional closeness and talking openly about feelings. It takes more than sex to build a strong marriage but it's challenging to keep afloat without some form of intimacy. Never keep secrets from each other. Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy. Be patient with each other. A spouse is always more important than a schedule.

 

A story I read recently - worth sharing regarding intimacy:

 

Intimacy doesn’t start in the bedroom. It starts in the kitchen, at the grocery store, or in the car on the way to dinner. The other night, as my husband and I were heading to bed, he mentioned to me that he had noticed I wasn’t in “the mood” as much this week. “Is everything okay? Are you upset with me?” He asked as he brushed his teeth. “No, not at all. I just haven’t felt that connection with you this week, as we’ve been busy with the kids and haven’t really connected as much.” I said back to him, while washing my face. He looked at me confused.“What do you mean? I thought we had a great week. We didn’t argue, we had so much fun at the park with the kids, I don’t understand what you mean. I tried to initiate last night, but you didn’t seem very interested.” “Well, this week we haven’t been doing anything intimate outside the bedroom like we normally do, you know?


This past week lacked hand holdings in the grocery store, kissing in the kitchen, and flirting with each other in the car.” I said back, hoping he would understand what I was struggling to say. We both looked at each other, and as I felt a sense of understanding from him, I also realized that what we viewed as intimacy, was very different. 


“Let’s head to bed and just cuddle" my husband said, as he grabbed my hand and pulled the blankets back for me. We cuddled up next to each other as we talked about the importance of intimacy starting outside of our bedroom.   We talked about what that looked like for us as a couple. More flirting outside of our bed. More handholding while grocery shopping. More touch, with less expectation for it to lead to anything later. More kissing in the kitchen, even just a quick peck. We fell asleep next to each other, with a new understanding of what we both needed. 


The next morning, I rolled over and headed down to the kitchen after getting dressed. I saw my husband cleaning up the counters in the kitchen, as I began to pull out some eggs to make our kids for breakfast. As I turned around to set the eggs down, I felt my husband wrap his arms around me and pull me in for a kiss. It was just a quick peck, but he had heard, and understood what I was saying the night before. He was listening. He was understanding. He was trying. We both looked at each other, with him holding a cloth and a bottle of cleaner, and felt a new understanding of what intimacy meant for our marriage.


That morning was the most romantic, intimate, and loving one we’ve had, because it didn’t start anywhere near our bedroom. It started the middle of our kitchen. It started with a simple hug. It started with a quick peck, while he held a dirty dish cloth in one hand, and my arm in the other. In that moment, we were both reminded of how important flirting with one another all day long is. Not just for ten minutes before we head to the bedroom. In that moment, we were both reminded that intimacy doesn’t start in the bedroom. For us, that morning, it started in the middle of the kitchen. 

 

By understanding the myths and focusing on the key traits of successful marriages, couples can build enduring, fulfilling relationships that stand the test of time.


And there's always the "start overs".


Marriage on paper is about commitment and fidelity. However, marriage in practice is about sacrifice and starting over.


Even when you're tired. Even when you are angry. Even when you don't feel like it. Especially then.


You wake up at 3 a.m. to a snoring spouse and jab his side so he rolls over, an interruption he doesn't remember in the morning, but you definitely do.


Start over.


You glance at the dashboard in your car and realize sometime in the last 24 hours, despite the tense words you exchanged over nothing in the same time frame, there is a beautiful scented stem from the lilac bush - just because.


Start over.


You turn dress socks and t-shirts right side out as you fish them out from underneath the bed and toss them onto the growing laundry pile that never seems to be conquered.


Start over.


You hear him playing uno or reading a story in the other room and making the silly monster voice that dissolves your daughter into puddles of giggles, the kind of deep down to your toes laughter you don't show him nearly enough these days.


Start over.


Over the years you put away boots and shoes that always seemed to be cluttering the hallway, the ones that track in dirt and the heavy load of responsibility he shoulders for your family quietly.


Start over.


And you learn, somewhere in the minutia of married life, that this partner you promised forever to isn't perfect. You realize how flawed and finicky and utterly selfish you are too.


So you start over. Again and again. Day after day. For now and forever, until death do you part.


It's true what they say; marriage can be hard work - but it's humble and beautiful too.


In the spaces between the picture - perfect moments and the memories of a lifetime, stand two people who choose, sometimes even without knowing, to start over.

 

Marriage is much more than just finding the right person; it’s about being the right partner.  The "perfect marriage" is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.  Find the one whose imperfections you can live with. 


Invest in your relationship, nuture it and reap the rewards.

 

Choose your love then love your choice❤️

 

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