Tuesday, April 2

The Story of Us Part XVI

August 6, 2012 marked 11 years together for Ryan and me.

Eleven years together, six of those married.

I love our story.

From the first 18 years of chance meetings and unbelievable coincidences to the last six years of marriage, parenthood and figuring out, well, everything.

I never want to forget how we came to be or all that we've been through to get here.


Catch up with Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VI Part VIIPart VIII, Part VIIIIPart X Part XIPart XII,  Part XIIIPart XIV and Part XV.


******


After our chat that night, I decided to give my marriage one last effort.

And not a skeptical, pessimistic, half-assed effort.

I had to be full on in it with no reservations.

Anything less was pointless.

I am an expect-the-worst kind of gal. It just how my life works most of the time.

While that attitude has saved me from some devastation a time or two, it's also been a self-fullfilling prophesy on more than one occasion - my marriage being one of them.

At least that how I feel.

I stopped giving my best effort to my marriage long ago.

Why should I be the only one?

I don't believe that a marriage can be 50/50 all the time but the scales didn't seem to ever tip in my favour and I gave up.

I do feel that my lack of effort was justified but it was doing nothing for my marriage.

So I decided that I had to REALLY be in this. We both did. If we wanted to keep this marriage going, we both had to do our best, all the time.

At least for a little while.

As I see it, we have three main issues.

First, there is a complete lack of balance between home and work.

I am sure this is something many families struggle with but I feel Ryan might be in a bit of a tougher spot.

  1. He works in an industry that goes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  2. The higher up desk jockeys who make the big bucks expect the guys who actually do more than push paper all day to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, as with most employers, the more you do, the more they expect.
  3. The not as high up desk jockeys have NO clue what working in the field is like so they have little consideration for the guys in the field as long as they're doing their Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.
  4. Ryan is now the only guy in his department with a family. He works amongst a bunch of young, mostly single, guys who want to make a ton of money and are pretty ok with 24/7/365.
  5. He has no schedule. Not only does Ryan not have set 'shifts' or set days off, jobs change, literally, by the minute. No one ever knows what is going on or when. EVER.
  6. Ryan loves his job, loves to work and wants to provide the most he can for his family. He wants us to have everything and he's willing to work for that.
What gets me the most is that I get it so I feel I am expected to always get it. 

(Got it?)

I get how his job works, how unpredictable it is and how much things change from minute to minute (literally) but we have commitments, appointments, things that need to be done and we need to spend time together.

I am more than willing to work with Ryan's job when there are things I need him to be home for, I always have been. And I always tell him what needs to happen and ask him to let me know what works best with his schedule or ask him to make the appointment since it's dependant solely on his schedule.

Almost invariably, something comes up at the last minute.

So we reschedule.

And then something comes up.

So we reschedule.

And then something comes up.

But we can't reschedule again.

Work wins. Every time.

THAT is what gets me the most.

We shouldn't ALWAYS be the ones to get the short end of the stick.

Sometimes, not most or even half, just some of the time, work needs to deal with it instead of us.

Easy for me to say, right? I stay home.

I did work once upon a time, you know.

I felt the pressure to give my job my all. I've seen others lose their lives (NOT literally) to their job.

I came to the conclusion that I work so I can live, I do not live so I can work.

And I certainly am not killing myself or giving up my life to rake in dough for an unappreciative fat cat.

(Damn the man!)

I don't think Ryan's employers will ever really care about his family so this is something him and I are constantly have to work on.

Or we can win the lottery. I'd be ok with that.

The second issue is us.

We need to make our marriage and each other a priority.

Life is busy, the boys take a lot of time and effort, as does work and every day life stuff.

But if Ryan and I want to save this marriage and make it worth being in, we NEED to make the time and give the effort.

It's as simple as that.

I read this article back in February and I couldn't agree more.

As I said last week, I don't need to be showered with lavish gifts. Little things that make me smile and let me know Ryan is thinking of me are FAR more important.

And they go a long, long way.

So that's where I started.

I set aside my resentment and bitterness and picked up Ryan's socks.

Instead of being angry over little things, I tried to let them go and see if/how I might be able to do something helpful for Ryan.

I tried to have even more understanding for Ryan's job - even though I didn't want to or feel I should.

And I took a good, hard look at myself and what I could do to deal with stuff better.

The biggest (and hardest) thing for me was letting go of the past. Trying as hard as I could to start fresh and not react to situations based on past experiences. 

I needed to have faith.

I don't have a lot of that.

Many times over the last few months, I have stopped myself mid-sentence because I am speaking from the past and I know that is not going to help our future.

Which ties in to us needing to work on better communication.

I talk. A lot. But I'm not always the best listener.

More often than not, I find myself listening to respond instead of listening to understand.

BIG difference.

(Did that concept blow your mind like it did mine? I ah-ha'd like a brigade of Oprahs when I had that realization.)

Ryan doesn't really talk OR listen.

Men. Amiright?

Good communication is key to every kind of relationship and something most of us kind of suck at.

In addition to good communication, spending quality time together is something we need to do.

We signed up for a nanny service so we could find a reliable sitter.

(Except that our super awesome wicked sitter moved and our second sitter is a flake so square one, here we are. Again.)

Ryan and I have gone out without the kids more in the last 4 months than we have in the last 4 years.

It's been so nice. 

It's made me re-see why I married Ryan, how much I enjoy spending time with him and the great importance of making time for him and I to do things, just the two of us or with other adults.

Sometimes we just grab a quick lunch and get groceries.

Sometimes we go to a fancy restaurant with friends.

Either way, Ryan and I are spending time together as adults and as husband and wife instead of always Mom and Dad.

The third issue is a complete lack of role models.

Marriage is HARD.

I don't care who you are or where you come from, marriage is hard work. Always. 

This ain't no set it and forget it Ronco Rotisserie.

Neither Ryan nor I have anyone to look to/talk to/etc in regards to what a happy, healthy marriage looks like or how to be a 'good' husband/wife. 

We both come from pretty dysfunctional families. And we've pretty much always been on our own in terms of adulthood, parenthood and marriage. 

Honestly, it's probably a miracle that we've made it this far.

But we're trying.

I am trying.

And I see Ryan trying.

Which makes me want to try harder.

Things have been better between Ryan and I. Much better.

We've slipped up and we're not perfect.

Bound to happen and I don't expect - or want - perfection.

I feel that we've both made a commitment to work on our marriage and get us back to what we used to be.

It's going to take time and a lot of effort. But we are worth it.

******

Next week: Afterthoughts...

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