Y’all. This man is fine. He’s fine as frog hair and I will FIGHT YOU IN YOUR FACE IF YOU SAY DIFFERENTLY. He’s also MY husband, and I don’t expect anyone else to celebrate him like I do. It’s nice when they do, but if someone else is celebrating him more than I am – I’m doing it wrong. We often talk about our marriage, and what we could change if we had a chance, and what we know we’re doing right. Those are some of the conversations that I cherish the most with him. I can still dream AND problem solve with him.
Background story; my husband and I met in 1994 when we were in eighth grade, and I was the new kid at our church. I was dealing with feeling like the odd person out in school, church and my own neighborhood. I found him intriguing. He was a tall lanky kid that had found his place among the guys at church, yet I could tell he was different. He wasn’t off-putting and he didn’t make crude noises whenever I walked past like certain folks did.
We started “going together” not long after my family started attending the church, and my dad was on red alert right away. I mean, I was his oldest child, and here comes this smooth talker catching her eye. We stayed getting into trouble with attempting to spend time together. We’d meet at public libraries, bright restaurants and wherever else we could steal time to hang out with each other. Keep in mind, this was high school, and I just KNEW that everyone was trying to wreck our fun. Now, here I am with a senior in high school and I’m still reserved about him dating. I mean – UGH!
That same senior in high school is who we got pregnant with in college. We were sophomores and stupid. Like, I mean, who gets pregnant the first time having sex. Yep. That’d be us. We discussed getting married right away but both sets of parents warned against rushing into something like that. There are parts of me that wish we wouldn’t have listened, but I’m pretty sure I’d have seven more kids now, and I wouldn’t be in quite the same space I am now. I may have been happy, I may have been successful, I may have been a household name. That’s not what was in the cards with the choices that I made, and I’m okay with that.
We take time apart
Before our son was born, my husband and I broke up. I was mortified to be a single unwed mother, and I imagined him to be living the high life downstate while in school. I was in a school in Wisconsin where I was DEFINITELY a statistic, and I felt betrayed. It was a zinger. So I guess we really didn’t “take” time apart as much as we kind of hated each other and the choices we had made.
My sister died while we were broken up, but before she passed away she had a AOL IM conversation with the hubs and told him that he was going to marry me. He applied in the negative, and she in her own way stated that she knew she was right. And she was. We got married 5 years after she died, and after we grew up a lot, and learned how to be alone. Well, alone WITH a kid though.
Granted if you’re married, there’s not a really easy way to live life alone – but you can vacation alone. Solo vacations are necessary. Yes for men too. However, solo doesn’t mean that you have to be alone, just not with your spouse. Get out with your friends, and have a great time. Even if that’s a standing date with your best friend every month – no kids, no spouses – it’s time alone. Where you aren’t a parent or a wife/husband and you’re still doing things that interest you.
We parent together
Before getting married, we made sure that we parented in a way that was positive for our son. We didn’t want him to see us fighting (and boy, did we fight.) We didn’t want him to see his parents with a different partner every week. I mean, if we decided to date other people, we wanted it to be serious. None of them were. The only guy I seriously dated outside of my husband knew of my son, because he was a neighbor. It was kind of hard for him not to see him. My husband can tell his dating stories at a later date if he wants to. I doubt he will though, so don’t hold your breath.
The same still stands now that we are married. WE are both parents. Not just me. Not just him. He parents with just as much gusto as I do. We may have different parenting styles, but we are a united front with our children. No decisions are made behind the backs of each other, and we don’t badmouth each other in front of our children. Mr. Nicholes doesn’t “watch” or “babysit” the kids. He parents them. He’s a dad. He’s just as tired as I am, he can just sleep through a lot more.
Our marriage has a strong foundation – Friendship
We’re friends first. Plain and simple. It has nothing to do with how in love we are, or how long we’ve been together. We’re friends first. We do believe in leaning on God as well to make sure that we stay fully grounded, but we’re friends first. I can’t state that enough. We laugh a lot. We have stupid conversations, we still get in tickle fights. You can find us chasing each other around the house yelling silly battlecries. We kiss in front of our children, and hug each other. We love each other in front of our kids.
We also disagree in front of our children. Sometimes those disagreements can get heated. I may end up in tears. But we always, always work it out – even if I have to tell him why he absolutely drives me batty. We allow each other time to stew, and then we get back at it.
Our marriage and intimate life isn’t limited to sex
Let’s be honest, whenever anyone hears intimacy, they always think sex. While sex is awesome – especially when it’s with someone who wants you to feel as good as they do, it’s awesome. However, it’s not the only way to intimately connect with your spouse in marriage. Take a class together. Read a book together. Take a road trip. Hold hands again when you walk together outside. Grab a butt cheek, or something. Do what made you giggle when you first started dating. I know many people who had sex with their spouses the first time they went on a date with them – no judgement here – but what made you CONNECT with your spouse? What interests do you have that aren’t inclusive of the horizontal (or not) polka? Try those things again.
In a time where SO many marriages are breaking up, it’s good to remember what strengthens yours. I’m strengthened by time away with my husband. Away from our children. Eating food together and wandering aimlessly around as if we have no care in a world.
One thing we had to realize is that once our children leave, the only people we’re going to have to hang with will be each other. Our kids are amazing. Our kids are full of life. Our kids will be leaving this house once they grow up. It’s inevitable.
Working looks different too. Instead of working 60 hours a week outside of the home, I’m pulling that almost every week. With his last job, he was out of the house almost the same amount of time. It was miserable. Now we work at home together, and while it’s still rough, it’s quite nice to have someone to hang with and hash out frustrations. Make no mistake – it’s also distracting as all get out. In every single way you can think of. Flirting. Snoring. Random arguments about movie facts and fiction. I mean, the list goes on and on.
I do know this though, we FIGHT for each other. We are there for each other. We are team Nicholes all the way through, and we make sure to let everyone outside of our home know that we come first.
I consider marriage a verb. One that you can only do with ONE OTHER PERSON. It’s not a group activity, it’s a partnership. Your marriage isn’t going to look like your best friend’s marriage, and it’s DEFINITELY not going to look like one written for a sitcom. They have writers penning the perfect response to hypothetical situations every week to fit tidy-like into a thirty minute time slot. I’m sure I’ll be writing more on this subject as the year goes on. Ten years of marriage starts to feel like you actually know what you’re doing in a way.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to get back to my fine specimen of a husband and spend some time adding to our foundation. Ahem.