Going through a divorce has taught me many things. One of them is a truth that I overlooked or knew but thought that pushing it aside was ok. You always hear about making your spouse a priority. That the marriage has to be a priority over the children. Over work. Over extended family. Those other factors can enhance your marriage if used properly. (Yes, I just said "used" and partially referenced my children. :)
In the beginning of my marriage we were a priority. Many factors played into this. The fact that he had just joined the military and we spent half of our first year of marriage separated made us appreciate the time we had together more. For me I didn't want to waste time fighting. I just wanted to get along. Remember, I'm a people pleaser.
Then our oldest girl was born. And she was beautiful and precocious and amazing. And as new parents we both enjoyed her thoroughly. Then our middle girl was born. But we had moved. He was back in school full time with a commute on his hands and working part-time. And I was working around a newborn and toddler sleep schedule. It was rare that we saw each other very much except on weekends. The focus was getting him through school and focusing on loving the girls. By the time our youngest girl was born there were difficulties in our marriage that were being talked about and attempting to be worked on. But young kids, both of us working and not having much extra money, left us with not much focused "us" time.
The next few years brought lots of change with another move and more travel for him and each of us finding our niche back in our hometown and me expanding my circle of friends through blogging.
I believe we both wanted to be included in the other's newfound hobbies but for some reason it didn't take. I believe we had already grown apart at this point. Our world together was focused on the kids.
I've come to realize and internalize that while we (collectively as a society) need to do right by our children that they don't come first. Because empty nest syndrome is very real. After 20+ years when the kids are grown and left the nest, where does that leave you? Is there enough of a relationship to salvage? Do you just continue living the life you believe you are expected to live? Do you try to change? If so, do you try and change together? Or do you try to find the peace inside of you? When you look at your partner do you see someone you still want to spend time with? Or do you see someone that annoys you because you finally have no distractions from seeing the people you are now?
On this "day of love" please remember that it takes respect from both sides to make any relationship work. Flowers and chocolate and a nice dinner out once a year does not make up for 300+ other days where you coexist through life and expect that things will just work out.
Relationships must be worked at. Relationships with children involved must be worked at harder because it's easy to take the point of view that you have to give 100% to your children and your partner gets what's left over. I'll be the first (or maybe not) to tell you that when that happens? You're asking for trouble.
I feel thankful to have someone in my life now that I can say the hard things to and it will be taken at face value because of respect. That I know when something hard is brought to me that it's about us not me. Because it takes two to make a relationship work. It takes 100% from both. Every.single.fucking.day. And at the end of the day when the kids are grown that hopefully we will have been able to keep the respect alive. Respect for ourselves. Respect for each other. Respect for our relationship.
Every day is a day of love. Even the shitty ones. Let those you love know it today. And tomorrow. And every day after.
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