Our marriage is great because we work hard at it

Everything good in our lives takes work. Our jobs, our connections with our children, our friendships. Fostering a passion or hobby takes work and upkeep—always learning, always growing. Taking care of our bodies—going to the gym and eating healthy—requires a lot of work and dedication and discipline. And in my five years of marriage, I’ve learned that my relationship with my husband requires work, too.

Serious, no-joke work. Work that isn’t always easy. But work that I’m happy to put in.

I used to think that talking about how my marriage required upkeep would lead people to believe that my marriage had problems. That people would think we were headed for splitsville.

And I’ve learned a few things about this specific way of thinking:

1. Stop worrying what other people think of you or your marriage.

2. Every marriage requires love and work and communication to help it flourish.

3. If someone says their marriage doesn’t take much effort or that it comes super easy to them—they’re lying.

Everyone has their stuff. Every marriage has their stuff. What I’m learning to focus on is our stuff—mine and my husbands. Not anyone else’s.

Our marriage is great, but it’s great because we work on it—not because we pretend we’re perfect and that we’re so in love that that’ll be enough to carry us to 50, 60, 70 years of success.

We are so in love, but we also need to put in the work.

In the past 18 months, four out of our five collective siblings got married (it’s been busy!) and somehow it made us feel like the old married couple, even though we’re only five years in. All of these weddings helped me reflect on our marriage.

When we were in wedding-planning mode in 2012, we were so focused on the final guest list, the price of an open bar, what song we’d dance to. With all the craziness that is involved in planning a wedding, it can be easy to lose sight of what matters most—promising to work together as a team in all that you do, in all aspects of your life.

And what team that you know of doesn’t put their blood, sweat and tears into working toward being the best team they can be?

Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say. 🙌

When I stop and think about our life—teamwork is involved in all areas, really.

We play as a team when it comes to our kids.

We’re both their parents and we both know how to make good decisions for our children. We trust each other and we encourage one another and when we’re not on the same page about something, we try our best to stop and have a conversation about it.

It’s not always easy to find the time to have a serious conversation and it’s not always fun to navigate the waters of disagreement, but we try. We make the time to try.

We play as a team when it comes to our home.

We both live here and we both need to put in the time and effort to take care of it. Neither one of us could do it on our own—not with kids and jobs and long lists of tasks we need to complete on any given day. So we both pitch in wherever we can—laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc. etc. etc.

Some weeks I’m doing more, and some weeks my husband’s doing more depending on our workloads—and sometimes that’s annoying or frustrating, but we try our best to communicate and pick up the slack where it’s needed and somehow it always seems to even out in the end.

We play as a team when it comes to time for ourselves—individually and together.

We try to plan out our gym schedules each week so we know what mornings my husband is leaving extra early and what nights I’ll be handing off the kids to him and rushing out the door. We try to go out to a movie or for a quick drink when our parents are in town (yay for free babysitting!). We encourage each other to make plans with friends so we’re able to maintain our friendships.

Sometimes weeks go by without us taking time to go on a date or we have to cancel plans with friends or our gym schedules get shuffled around. But we try to be mindful of one another’s needs in these areas, and we can feel it when we’re not getting the time together or alone or with friends that we need—and we work on doing better.

Marriage isn’t 50-50. At all. It’s more like 100-100, with room to go higher or lower depending on what kind of day you’re having. And we all want to give our partners 100% of our best selves every day, but that’s not always possible. There are going to be days when we have to pick each other up and on those days it may be 80-20. Some days we’ll be the 80 and some days we’ll be the 20. And on the really great days, we’ll be the 100s. It’s all about give and take. Compromise and work.

Teamwork does make the dream work and our dream is this family we’ve created. You know why that family was started? Because of the love between my husband and I. You know how that family is a happy, loving, growing family today? Because of the work we put in day in and day out.

And that’s something I’m incredibly proud of.

Colleen is a wife and mom to three awesome girls. She is the Motherly Stories Editor at Motherly. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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