Marriage Is Not The End Zone

Yesterday’s post, though honest and fraught with the reality of my swollen hot feet and sweaty knee-pits, bothered me all day. I kept thinking about how it wasn’t the post I should have written. How the lightening storm was great, but it was actually a small piece to a larger puzzle. I thought all day and even into my happy hour with Claire about how to say what I want to say, but I am still coming up blank.

Since we’ve moved to Seattle things have been good, I have been happy, we have so many opportunities here, we have a much better quality of life, there are a thousand and one excellent things about our world right now.

Except Kamel isn’t happy. He is happy that we moved, he loves Seattle! He is not happy for other reasons. And his unhappiness spills out of him and onto us. It creates tension and stress and negativity that eats away at all of the good things, all of the happy things. And it is exhausting to be forced to go down that path with him. Things have been harder than usual. More tears from me. An undercurrent of loneliness.

This marriage thing is a constant evolution. I don’t even remember what our relationship was when we dated. Who were we again? I do remember what I thought marriage would be on the day I got married.

A buddy for life.

Someone to always have adventures with.

My jovial, up for it, supportive Kamel.

Except we are way more things than that. We are much bigger than vows. On our wedding day we are the best version of ourselves, but in our marriage we are sometimes the best, we are sometimes the worst, but we are often just somewhere in the middle.

But lately it hasn’t been great. And more often than I want it has been not good. It’s been hard. It is hard navigating the world with someone else’s issues in mind. It is hard for Kamel, but I don’t speak for him here. It is hard being the person who is generally content while tied to a person who is not.

The thing is it is not an easy thing to talk about or write about or express. “Marriage is not easy” is too simple of a phrase. Marriage is a difficult, challenging existence but it is not a bad one. The work of it matters, the hard parts mean something, choosing that person even when they suck, even when they are no fun at all, that means something.

Staying up and watching the lightening after a day of choosing to be nice instead of wanting to be nice. That moment where he reaches out and touches your side just because. Being kind to one another, knowing that each of you is trying and working towards a common goal, knowing you have a partner even if in a moment (an hour, a day, a week) you feel alone.

Marriage doesn’t have anything to do with kids, parenting has to do with kids. Marriage is this umbrella thing that I am sometimes figuring out on my own, figuring out how to be better at my parts, figuring out how to communicate about the parts I need us both to be better at. It’s a dance, it’s a slow dance. Sometimes the songs really suck. But I keep choosing him, again and again and again, I keep choosing.

Because Marriage is not the end zone, it’s the starting line.

22 thoughts on “Marriage Is Not The End Zone”

  1. I know exactly where you are coming from with this. For a few years, my husband was really struggling with his job. It was really stressful, they expected long hours, there was poor communication, he didn’t think he was adequately recognized for his contributions, etc. I tried so.hard. to be supportive, but at a certain point, I was all “dude! it’s time to do something about it! either find a new job or figure out a way to learn to be content with this one!”

    Because after putting in the all the work myself to learn to handle stress without it negatively impacting my emotions/mental state/daily life too much (my motto is choose happiness!), it’s just not fair that I had to bear the brunt of his bad moods after he held it in all day at work.

    It did get better – he’s still at that job, but has learned how to mostly make it work with our desired lifestyle and to let things roll of his back a little more. But still, it sucks, and I at one point really struggled with whether that was going to be our reality forever and if so, if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with such a negative, unhappy person.

    Internet hugs to you guys, and I hope things start looking up for Kamel (and therefore you) soon!

  2. I’m on the Kamel side of this. I break down a lot and sometimes take it out on my boyfriend when really it’s not his fault at all. He has been so incredibly supportive and I am looking for another job, but there are just so many days that I can’t take it anymore. I try my best to apologize when I yell at my boyfriend, but there is just so much stress and it’s so hard to take it all. I hope things look up for Kamel, whatever is wrong.

  3. It makes me feel so much more sane when you write about this – because YES, it is really hard dealing with another person’s bad mood. But choosing to be nice, choosing to take the bad with the good, choosing to show up and love someone when they aren’t being their best self, when they can’t be their best self, that’s marriage. And thank goodness, because I definitely have “not my best self” days too.

    Hope things get lighter for Kamel soon.

  4. I had a conversation with my husband just the other day about this. He is unhappy with his pay at work. He is unhappy having to work in the field he works in. He is going back to school at the end of this month (again, to work on his 3rd degree) so that hopefully he can figure out what he wants to do with himself. I feel like every day all I hear form him is how broke he is, and how he has no money, and how he just wants a different job…and I try. I try so hard to be supportive of him. I just want him to be happy. But there’s only so much I can take before I want to run away from him, or scream at him, which we all know accomplishes nothing. So instead, before I get to that point, I try to talk to him about it. I tell him how much his mood affects me, and how hard it is to constantly be the one supporting. It usually helps for a while, but eventually we find ourselves back here again. But like you, I will always choose him. Because this is only a small part of who he is, and the rest of him is so wonderful. I just hope he can find some happiness within his work at some point.

  5. this is such an important post – thank you, lauren and kamel for sharing. i’m often the one in the relationship who is struggling, while mike encourages me to choose happiness. it’s hard and messy, but like you point out, worth working through. even when it’s impossibly hard for me to choose happiness (because god the weight of life kicks my ass in a monstrous way), i still choose mike and i still choose our partnership. he does too. and that is the most important thing. all the hugs to you and kamel. 🙂

  6. Choosing kindness is the rock marriages stand or fall on. One of them, anyway. It’s hard to be with someone who isn’t ok, almost as hard and even sometimes harder than it is to be the person who isn’t ok. A million hugs to both of you.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Lauren! It is so hard to be on both sides of this situation. When I am the one whose unhappiness is spilling over, in addition to already feeling bad, I often end up feeling guilty about also making my husband feel bad and for the effects my unhappiness is having on our relationship. More recently I’ve been on the other side, and my husband has been unhappy. Watching him feel bad makes me feel bad, and helpless, and then angry because who likes to feel helpless??

    It helps to hear others say they are dealing with the same types of situations because it is so easy to imagine that everyone else’s marriage is just running along smoothly without any major bumps or struggles when, in reality, that just isn’t the case.

  8. What a beautiful post Lauren. I truly love when you write about marriage because it makes it so much less scary for all those couples (myself and my bf included) who have not yet made the leap. I’ve been reading All Joy and No Fun, and so much that sticks out is how hard marriage can be and that married people eventually become less satisfied and on and on. And that is hard to read. As someone who wants to be married and is ready to make that commitment, it’s refreshing to hear from you the reality of the crappy parts of marriage but also the good parts.
    I hope that things get better soon, for Kamel and for you!

    1. So far it has absolutely not become less satisfying. That is such a bleak outlook. There are so many gifts to sharing your life with someone, it’s the selfish parts of being human that make it difficult. I think marriage is hard because it pushes us to become better people and demands that we also expect that from our partners, which can be a difficult assertion. But it is so worth it.

      1. You should do a series about how marriage is awesome sometimes. I get so tried of all the negativity surrounding marriage. Amazing things can happen in a marriage!

        1. It’s hard because Marriage is seen like this thing to strive for, the fairy tale ending, end scene. Plus so much of what I write/show in photos/etc is of a good marriage (I hope so… unless I am living in my own little LALA land), so I worry about talking about how my life is SO AMAZING YOU GUYS, while not giving a nod to the work it takes to get there.

          But, I do think there should be some marriage posts devoted to excellence, so look for 1 in september, already in the works!

          1. This is EXACTLY how I feel about marriage too!! I worry people think we are ALL HAPPY ALL THE TIME based on our life and posts – so I feel it is SO important to talk about the difficult times, months, days, and years (and apparently am okay with posting ugly-cry way too real posts on Instagram that I later regret – haha). Getting through those hard times has made our marriage even better when we come out the other side. Anyway, totally feel this whole marriage talk. So many feelings on all of it and how it is portrayed (always seems either PERFECT or TERRIBLE in social media, etc).

      2. I so agree with this, in a very deep and inexpressible way. I am in the position of being the not content partner in my marriage. But I am content, overjoyed, safe, satisfied, etc. etc. etc. in/with my marriage itself. I am not content with many other aspects of my life, some relationship-adjacent and some that are within me. I am starting therapy for depression and anxiety on Monday, because I can see the effects on myself and my husband, and I’m in pain, and he is in pain because of my pain. We are both suffering. Not all day every day, but much too much.

        But none of this means our marriage itself is in trouble or dissatisfying. It means we are individuals, humans who live through lots of Big Stuff (and little stuff) inside of a very complex, intimate relationship with each other. We affect each other. My husband is my greatest joy and comfort, but life is (or I am) not always joyful or comfortable. It is so helpful to read this from others as well.

        And we choose and we choose and we choose, and we are on many days our best selves, and we are doing what it takes to head for better times.

  9. Thanks for this and I am sorry you are both going through this. I can relate, though currently in my marriage I am the one who is unhappy (with where we live, is the main issue) and I forget sometimes how my unhappiness can drag down my husband, who is unfailingly kind and nice no matter how crummy I can be. Three years in I definitely think marriage is an ongoing evolution and as long as we mostly (!) still like each other at the end of the day and keep riding these waves together I know we will be ok. Hope things ease up a bit for you soon.

  10. I’m playing catch-up here and whoa this hit me to the core. James and I always say “ebbs & flows… ebbs & flows” to remind us that we will come back from this too. We have in the past, and we will again. Hugs to you guys. We feel ya! xoxo (And even better reading this while you’re on your trip because Kamel appears to be loooving vacation and you two appear to be having the best time out east! yay!)

  11. I found this post through APW and I just want to say ‘Yes!” to all of it. Our 2.5 year-old marriage has seen its ups and downs. We’ve lost our two beloved dogs (and adopted two new ones), moved across country, survived one of the coldest winters in decades in our new state, and have struggled with infertility. The ups have all been us just showing up for each other every day. For ‘choosing to be nice’ even when we didn’t want to be. As much as I struggle with that line between subjugating myself for someone else’s happiness, I have found that I do know where the line is. His happiness enhances my happiness, so that isn’t a sacrifice.

    It helps that I know I have a partner. One who makes sacrifices for me at times, and one who supports me when I’m at my lowest (hello single degree temps for WEEKS). I’m just babbling now, but I love reading about the reality of marriage. It’s not all good, or all bad, but it is work, and it is worth it.

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