Category: marriage

The Truth About Marriage

Marriage is everything and nothing like what I expected it to be. Some people will tell you nothing changes, and some will tell you everything changes; in my experience, they are all correct.

The Truth About Marriage in all of its glory and growing pains. Read the full article at: http://chasingayden.com/marriage

When I married Mike, we had been together nearly 6 years off and on, (but mostly on). We had been through our fair share of ups and downs like any other couple, although ours might have been a bit more unconventional. We had brought a beautiful baby girl in to the world together, lived together, shared bank accounts, shared bills and lived a life similar to that of a married couple. In that way, indeed nothing changed. After marriage, all of those same responsibilities existed and we continued along, business-as-usual.

But what I was unprepared for, was the unspoken shift. Because after we said our ‘I-do;s’, and returned home from our Mini-moon™, our relationship went through some growing pains. I was literally blind-sided by this, as most of my friends at the time were not yet married. And if they were, they failed to mention the challenges that can accompany being a newly-wed. I think maybe the idea of ‘forever’ sunk in, which was both awesome and terrifying.

Check out this Google search of ‘first year of marriage’. Pretty wild, right? Who knew?! I didn’t, that’s for sure. (I will say, that a couple of months in to our marriage when I originally searched the Googles on this topic, I was quite relieved to learn that everything we were going through was completely normal).

I think that there is a misconception that you get married, and then you can finally relax and rest on your laurels (for lack of better words). What I have found is quite the opposite. Marriage does offer a certain feeling of comfort and relaxation, but it is also the marker of the beginning of a whole new journey of growth and discovery and compromise. Marriage is a daily choice. It doesn’t feed itself and it certainly doesn’t evolve or flourish without diligent care and attention.

At the risk of losing your (my) attention span, I have summed up a few things I have learned about marriage, over the last 3 years. Or I guess more specifically, what I have learned about my marriage. (As always, this is my experience, and I am definitely not claiming to be any type of expert in anyone else’s life but my own. And I use the term ‘expert’, very loosely.)

Expect to have the  same conversation over and over

This is in the number one position for a reason. Mike and I used to argue about our arguments. Seriously. Because one of us or both of us believed we shouldn’t have to have this conversation again. Wrong and wrong. What I have learned is, we will revisit many a ‘talk’, because we are human, and talking about something once doesn’t typically fix it or permanently change it. When we both finally reached this understanding, (took about 2.5 years), things got a lot more light-hearted in our home. (cue: ‘why didn’t we think of this sooner!?’)

Date Nights Are Mandatory

The power of a date night with my hub, still amazes me. Nothing kills your mojo like kids. Or bills. Or financial stress. Or piles of laundry. Or looming ‘honey-do’ lists. Or picking up dog poo. Catch my drift? It is very easy to become glorified roommates with your spouse, and taking a couple hours out of the routine to reconnect (over sushi), does wonders for a relationship. Date nights often remind me that I actually like my husband. They remind me that I chose him. Pro-tip: I have also found that the times that I feel like I don’t even want a date night with my hub, are the best times to plan one.

Sleep on it

I used to really believe that you shouldn’t go to bed angry, because isn’t that what everyone writes on those cheesy little suggestion cards at bridal showers? It’s total bull-sh*t, in my opinion. You know what is worse than going to bed pissed? Staying up late, arguing in a delirious state of mind and going to bed even more pissed. Sleep is golden, people. Sleep makes us sane. Learning to go to bed pissed has saved me from saying things that I would have surely regretted saying, by morning. There is a reason that people say ‘sleep on it’, when making a big decision. Sleep = perspective.

Ask for what you want

Hey so guess what? Your spouse isn’t a mind-reader. (Even if you believe that by now, he/she should be.) I have spent a lot of time in past relationships, upset that my significant other didn’t live up to my expectation of what my birthday/anniversary/valentines day/xmas/Saturday should look like. The thought process goes something like this:

‘I hope he gets me flowers. He should know that I love getting flowers. He better get me flowers. Of course he will get me flowers–he KNOWS I love flowers. Wait, he didn’t get me flowers? This whole day sucks. I hate my Birthday and I hate him because he didn’t get me flowers. The day is ruined.’

Insanity, I tell ya! Maybe you can’t relate to that at all, maybe you had this conversation with yourself recently. All I know is, when I set my husband up for success, ‘Our anniversary is coming up and I just want to remind you that I love getting flowers’, everyone wins. Expectations are ridiculous, most of the time. Life is not a John Hughes movie (unfortunately), and Jake Ryan is not going to show up with a Birthday cake at the end of the ‘movie’. (Jake Ryan, le sigh.)

It takes two, baby

I think the craziest thing about marriage is that two people from completely different back-stories and life-experiences, decide that they are going to share a life together and find a middle ground to live upon.

Stop and think about that for a minute.

It is the ultimate compromise, and everything that you have learned about survival and decision-making and adulting, is now in question. It’s not just about what exists in your own comfort zone, anymore. Marriage forces you to take an entirely different perspective in to consideration. It challenges you to consider new ideas and foreign thought processes. It asks you to set what you thought you knew aside, and consider another persons viewpoint and feelings. (Ew. Just kidding.)

The truth is, I am learning how to be a wife and how to be married, every day. I could write an entire book on the topic, but then I would probably have to go back and re-write it in a few years. So for now, I will leave you with this blog post, and some photos from our wedding day.

*Photography Credit: Sarah Field Photo

xo, Em

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Discovering: I Am Not Less of a Mom

not less of a mom

There’s something I have been wanting to write about, but have been putting off. I think I have been avoiding it because I know some feelings are sure to arise. I am not a big fan of being publicly vulnerable, but I am a person who processes feelings through writing. My intention for this blog, has always been to be relatable to others, and to keep it honest. Which brings us to this post–a touchy subject for some folks.

not less of a mom

A funny thing happens when you start dating someone–people start asking you if or when you plan to get engaged. Then you get engaged, and people demand to know if you have set a wedding date. You set a date and get married, and then everyone wants to know when you will be having kids. (Ok, in my case we didn’t go in this exact order, but stay with me here). Then you become pregnant, and people want to know the baby’s gender and name. Baby is born. Life changes–you cross over in to the parenting world. And then people start asking when you are having another, since your first is so cute and all.

It is actually a bit exhausting, and if you don’t have some solid internal boundaries, it can add up to a lot of pressure. I blame human nature and our desire to inquire. (I am most definitely guilty of some of these inquiries.) But with that being said, I am going to tell you what may (or may not) be going on, on the other side of these questions.

After Mike and I had Ayden, our world was rocked, (and that is putting it mildly). No one was getting much sleep at night, Ayden was a difficult feeder, she liked to party at night and  only wanted to be held. Mike was working full-time and in school full-time. Money was tight. Emotions (hormones) were wacky. Life was hectic. That aside, Ayden was also an incredibly happy and smiley baby, who hit all of her fun milestones crazy-early. One thing was for sure, life was in session in the McAllister home.

A couple of months in to parenthood, we started getting the inevitable questions about when we would be having more kids. Most people had an opinion about the matter telling us things like, ‘You don’t want them too far apart’, or ‘You don’t want her to be an only child–then she won’t have anyone’, or ‘Don’t wait too long!’ To be honest, these comments felt intrusive and presumptuous, though I didn’t fully realize it at the time.

And then there were the comments from other moms (of two or more children), ‘One is so easy’, or ‘You only have one?’ Granted, this was not my interaction with all moms of multiples, but there were a few and it caught me off guard. I don’t believe that these comments were meant to be malicious, and I have learned to try not to take others personally (operative word being ‘try’), but if I am being honest, (I am), it felt a little passive aggressive.

Once upon a time, when being parents was just pillow-talk between Mike and I late at night, we planned on having two children. We each grew up with a sibling, and it seemed the natural thing to do. We also had very strong beliefs about exactly how we wold raise our hypothetical children. We were strong in or convictions. We would never raise our voices, never let our baby ‘cry it out’, never allow our child to throw tantrums in public, would allow for only minimal TV watching, never use modern technology (iPhones / iPads) as a means of child supervision, make all of our own baby food, etc, etc. We were so sure. And we were so wrong. If I have learned one thing from becoming a mother, it is that plans change quickly after a baby is born.

Cut to: Ayden’s 2nd Birthday, (the time of year we had planned to begin trying for baby #2.) We sat at or dining room table, us two. The conversation began. And then it happened; Mike had changed his mind. I couldn’t believe what he was saying; was he allowed to do this? Was he allowed to change his mind mid-game? I won’t go in to too many details about why, because this is my story to tell. I am speaking from my own experience, and it would be unfair to my husband if I attempted to write his story.

I will say this; that conversation led to more conversations, arguments, tears, praying, debates, soul-searching, a counseling session (with a not-so-great shrink), lots and lots of writing, weighing of options and eventually over time, acceptance. For the sake of my marriage and family, I had to come to a few conclusions:

  1. If I believe in a higher power (which I do, and choose to call it God ), than I am not really in charge of the whole game-plan. I cannot impose my will on anyone else; even my husband. If we are meant to have another child, then it will happen. If we are not meant to have another child, then we won’t. God is either everything or nothing. So in a sense, this situation was forcing me to dig deeper, spiritually.
  2. I was not willing to deceive or trick my husband in order to become pregnant again, and I was not willing to leave the marriage over it. This meant I needed to find a way to be ok with his change of heart. I didn’t have to like it, I just had to find a way to be ok (for now), with it.
  3. In order to become ok, I needed to find a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings that I already had in my life. I had to focus on all of the beautiful things, people and experiences that I am lucky enough to be afforded. I had to recognize that Mike and I are jackpot winners, when it comes to Ayden. I had to remember that not everyone who wants children get children, that some people lose hildren and that I have been blessed beyond measure in becoming a mother. I found that when I stay busy focusing on loving and appreciating what I have, I spend less time worrying about what I don’t have.

This doesn’t mean that some days I don’t drift in to the worrisome head space where I compare myself to or feel envious of others. And on those days, when I feel extra sensitive about it all, I do my best to be gentle with myself. I write a gratitude list about my life, I write down 5 things that I love and appreciate about my husband, I forgive him all over again for not always being perfectly in line with my desires and I remember that nothing is set in stone.

And some days, I am so content with our little trio, that I could explode with joy. I feel a deep sense of closeness between the three of us that is more fulfilling than I am capable of putting in to words.  I feel lucky. I feel full.

Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world that has experienced this with their spouse, which makes it even more daunting to write about. But the chance that someone may read this and relate, forces me to write my truth. Also, I have learned that when my feelings are fear-based, they’re usually off-base.

At the end of the day we really don’t know what other families are going through; whether it be fertility issues, losing a child or situations like mine. What I do know, is that it is never safe to assume. What I have decided to learn from this is that I can be happy. I can be happy if our parenting journey begins and ends with Ayden, or if we go on to have more children. And quite possibly the most important thing that I have learned is that either way, I am not less of a mom.

Click here, to read PART 2 of this story! 

xo, Em

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