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I have a beautiful marriage and two little kids. My husband and I have close to a 50/50 split with almost everything that needs to get done in our lives. My husband is an incredibly committed dad and is my biggest cheerleader when I want to go have dinner with a friend, exercise, or travel for work. I never worry about my kids being alone with Dad. I trust that he does an incredible job and I fully recognize that I am very fortunate to have what I do. I am nothing but grateful for this.

Yet, as with any relationship, there are a lot of tough times, even more so in the last few years as we navigate our rich and complicated lives with two little children. I say complicated because I wish some parts of my husband and myself were different. I wish he’d value the children’s routines and schedules more. I wish he’d care for me a little more, not just as the mother of our children but as a wife who wants to be loved. I wish he’d take better care of himself, be more intentional, and prioritize his own needs. I wish I was less impulsive and more kind with my words. I wish I would blame less and appreciate more than I do.

The beautiful part is that we both recognize and are aligned that this is what needs to change. We are committed to meeting each other’s needs more effectively. We know making these changes is what will take me from feeling 8/10 to 10/10, a metric I often use to gauge the health of my marriage. It means choosing kindness over resentment. It means communicating and checking in and following through on what we have committed to. It means listening to audio books on marriage. It means date nights and hikes together. It also means seeking help outside the marriage to ensure things are moving smoothly.

Sometimes I wonder how and why it’s so hard to not be able to resolve such trivial issues, but perhaps that’s why they say marriage takes work. I have learned that I can have strong feelings, but I need to choose kind words and develop more wisdom to manage my big emotions. I meditate, hoping I’ll stay calm the next time schedules go off the tracks. If I lose my cool and make a not-so-nice comment, I feel terrible and guilty. Then I start over with compassion for myself, my husband, and a commitment to our marriage.

It’s hard to thrive in all parts of my life at the same time, and I know on days when extreme sadness takes over, I need to hold on to perspective of all the abundance in my life and also in my marriage. I need to tell myself that we are in this together, in this for life – even though there have been moments when I question the value of my marriage. Thankfully, those are short, fleeting moments.

I also have realized that every time I’ve opened up and shared my story and my tears, most friends agree, saying, “Me too.” And yet this is a conversation we don’t have enough – not in the real world nor in the online world. It’s scary to be raw, to be vulnerable, to open up our hearts in this way. But sometimes, knowing that this is natural and often normal in a life with two little kids, two full-time jobs, very few nights of good sleep, and many, many nights of sleep deprivation makes this process a little easier. This isn’t an excuse for not working on myself or my marriage but a recognition of the challenges of this stage in life, acceptance of my situation, and a reminder to myself to try again tomorrow.

I know that there will be a night in a few years when both the boys will be gone for sleepovers and my husband and I will perhaps sit next to each other with some cheese, crackers, and some wine as we watch a movie. I know we’ll miss the kids. I wouldn’t be surprised if tears rolled down my cheeks because, even though I am often exhausted and depleted, I still miss them a lot when I’m without them.

I cuddle up with the kids in my bed, sandwiched between the one wanting my breast to sleep on and the other wanting my arm around him. I often fall asleep this way while my husband is doing dishes or writing code in the other room. In those moments I wish it wasn’t so hard to have a few minutes of quiet time together each night.

My eyes are wet as I write this post, both from the struggle and the joy of this season in my life, but I’ll end it with gratitude. It’s my rock and anchor to find beauty and purpose in my life. I am grateful for the abundant love I receive from my husband in his own unique ways and the reminder that I’m accepted with all my quirks and imperfections.

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