Happily, Not Effortlessly, Married & What It Means to Me

Marriage is serious business. Literally, it's a contract between Kelsey and I. I know, it sucks all the romance right out of it. But when you get married, you get cards with sayings on them like "Happily Ever After" and "Cheers to Wedded Bliss." kelsey and eric 2 copy

Those phrases sound warm and fuzzy on your wedding day. But, how about once you get home from the honeymoon? Or move in with your spouse for the first time and try to figure out who is going to do the dishes, laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.? Not to mention all the other nuances that come with co-habitating with another person. What about the first death in the family? What if one of you brings debt into the marriage and the other doesn't?

These life situations have tested our marriage for sure. Actually, chores are still one of our biggest hot topics within our marriage. We brought a lot of expectations of each other when we got married, but never shared them with each other. They were there, under the surface, and would cause arguments and frustrations when certain things happened, or didn't happened.

The expectations were not fair to either one of us, and we've had to learn how to manage these over the seven years we've been married.

The Work Is Never Done

When we were married I did think it would be happily ever after. Like the wedding was a grand finale, and we'd ride off into the sunset and married life would be awesome. But, it's completely opposite of that. The wedding was the beginning. Our vows were the real deal. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer.

Our vows were a commitment to an attitude of never giving up, no matter the circumstances. By all comparisons, we've had a pretty easy life (first world problems and stuff), but what we've battled most in our marriage is selfishness. I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not perfect, and I can't expect Kelsey to be either.

And I have to love her where she is, and not be disappointed with some false-expected fantasy Kelsey that I made up. I married Kelsey for who she is, not who she might become one day.

Happily, Not Effortlessly, Married

When we decided to make WOW a family blog, I changed the tagline from "Like words of wisdom, but not" to "Happily, not effortlessly, married."

At the time, I didn't really even put to much thought into it. It just came to mind, I asked Kels if she liked it and we forged ahead. But, over the years, it's stuck, and it actually sums up our attitude about marriage.

Being happily married doesn't come without effort. 

When we have frustrations, we pursue each other's hearts. We dive deep into issues until we find resolution.

A typical deep-rooted conversation usually looks something like this...

  1. I make a sarcastic statement.
  2. Kelsey takes offense and asks why I said that.
  3. Dang...I think about it... and I really am upset about something.
  4. Surface level argument back and forth (usually around who does more chores, or who is more stressed out and why).
  5. Tears are shed.
  6. Forgiveness is asked for.
  7. With frustrations set aside, we finally start making progress.
  8. We ask what the root of the problem is.
  9. Deep conversation starts to unfold.
  10. We find a solution, or at least a resolution to the argument.
  11. Hug it out.
  12. Sleep on it, because it's usually in bed or late at night when the argument starts. (We break our own rules.)

I'll admit that I'm usually the one who starts the argument. I think it's due to personality. Kelsey is much more of a peacemaker and can also absorb a lot more discontent than I can. I wrestle with thoughts in my head a lot, and my default stance is to throw them on the table and ask Kelsey what she thinks.

She tends to resist getting her hands dirty in this area, so this difference in personality causes me to push her to a breaking point. Never intentionally, but reflecting back, it's how all of our "big" arguments have progressed over the years.

You can feel it coming like a summer rain storm. But, isn't the best part of a summer rainstorm when the sun breaks through the clouds afterward and the ground is still wet? You can see a new beginning coming as the gray clouds move on and blue skies roll in.

That seems to be how a typical deep-rooted argument goes for us. It's certainly not fun sitting in the storm. But when the clouds start to break up, the resolution becomes clear and we can move on from that situation.

One thing I'm extremely thankful for in my wife is that she's willing to fight with me. She's willing to have the tough conversations. We've both developed an attitude of pursuit. When something isn't right, we struggle through it together, and we attack the problem instead of letting it fester and grow into an uncontrollable size. We share each other's burdens, and communication is key.

I can't begin to imagine all the struggles we're going to face in the next five, 10 or 50 years. But, I do know that there will be struggles, and that we'll tackle them together in the pursuit of happiness. But certainly, not without a lot of effort.

Is marriage this hard for you? Or just for us?