* Column of the Week:
My life is not a fairy tale.
Years ago when I would dream about marriage from the naÃ¯ve teenage perspective, it usually involved hours of cuddling by a fire, playing joyfully with our gorgeous (and freakishly well behaved) children, and an abundance of love letters slipped in one anotherâ€™s pockets before work in the morning. But even though my husband and I met in an adorable fashion (it scores major points in the â€œdating storyâ€ system, although not quiet as high ranking as my boyfriend before him), we have never been big on the romance.
Now donâ€™t get me wrong, itâ€™s not for a lack of trying. After a proposal that involved pajamas, a basement and a box of pizza on my birthday, youâ€™d think there would be nowhere to go but upâ€¦. right? Think again. Sometimes I wonder if itâ€™s the comfortable wear and tear of daily living that makes marital romance fade, or rather the introduction of children in general. (Yes, thatâ€™s right sister who hasnâ€™t had kids yetâ€¦ are you sufficiently freaked out now?)
The insertion of munchkins into a marriage can have two amazing effects: 1) it can bring you closer to your spouse than you ever imagined (so every time you look at them you see your blossoming babies in their eyes), or 2) it can make you see a side of them you never knew existed. Do you think when my husband said â€œI doâ€, he expected to endure lengthy conversations about placenta and episiotomies, while watching Ricky Lake birthing documentaries? Me thinks not. Did I expect to be 20 minutes in to full soul exposure only to realize that Xbox consistently takes precedence? Likely no.
And even though I used to think that Iâ€™d never let a boy see me looking my worst, my husband gets to see just what happens to a woman when hair washing, high heels and makeup are a distant memory. (Come on, he gets to see me dressed up for a wedding once or twice a year, isnâ€™t that proof of hotness enough?) On the other hand, I never thought Iâ€™d have to go so far inside the male psyche as marriage has permitted me to do (and trust me, there is no going back). On any given night my husband can be found saying the following two sentences while zoning out to FX with a previously full (presently empty) bag of Oreos: â€œI wonder what weapon Iâ€™d use to save the world during a zombie-ocalypseâ€ or â€œI need to get a bear suit one day so I can fight a bearâ€.
Despite the ever present episode of â€œJack Handyâ€™s: Men Say The Darndest Thingsâ€ playing out on our sofa nightly, relationships in reality are a stark contrast to reality relationships. For example, Iâ€™ve started watching The Bachelor for the first time this year, and often imagine what a married couple would be like on that show. Every time the contestants romp happily through foreign lands in a surplus of short-shorts and side braids, my husband and I would be slapping on bug repellant and high grade SPF faster than you can say malaria. In every instance that a female â€œlove interestâ€ has an adorable fear of helicopters or heights (forcing large, muscly man to hug her closer), my husband would be ignoring me in horror as I consider a panic attack in front of my biggest neurosis: escalators. And if you think that the heart shaped, silken dessert in the â€œfantasy suiteâ€ would go untouched in lieu of well-lit make-out sessions, youâ€™re wrong. He would chow down, I would complain about my aching lower back, and weâ€™d both pass out face down in rose petals before 10 oâ€™clock.
So how can you put that spark back in your relationship after kids, midnight feedings and mortgage payments suck you dry? I donâ€™t know about you, but maybe marriage isnâ€™t supposed to be some â€œsparkâ€ we read about in magazines and steamy novels. That anxious, burning, and sometimes awkward feeling we get from our first few dates or brand new crushes might feel fun at first, but isnâ€™t that emotion simply derived from an element of distrust? Of course youâ€™re going to get a tingle in your toes if you donâ€™t know the person, but sometimes that feeling is simply of our own creation. Heck, I can make my toes tingly just dreaming about Mr. Random Dad in the lobby of a dance studio (sorry honey!)
But the only true relationship in life is the one where you are who you are, you except one anotherâ€™s faults, and you still move forward to build a life together. There is an odd beauty to the comfortable, familiar relationship that parenthood creates, in which neither party is worrying about how white their teeth are or how funny their joke was (come on guys, you both know youâ€™re not that funny). Yes, being your true, un-humorous, non-glamorous self is one of the most vulnerable experiences in the world, but how can you spend the rest of your life with someone, if they never know who that someone really is?
Perhaps we women could hide our Midol in the cabinet once in awhile (or heck, slip a love letter in one another’s pockets now and again), but if our life really were a fairy taleâ€¦. weâ€™d never appreciate the value of a happy ending. Happy endings donâ€™t come from roses, chocolates and kid free eveningsâ€¦ they come from hardship, challenge and struggles that make us stronger and wiser as a couple, and as individuals. It doesn’t matter how we met or when we became engaged, love is what happens after life happens (even if sometimes there are no fire-side cuddles in sight).
Marriage might be difficult and it might not be what we imagined as kids, but having kids is what makes our marriage something more than just ourselvesâ€¦.
It makes us a family.
*Â Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She hosts Makeover Momma TV on Tuesday (7 PM/EST & 4 PM/PT), and writes this column weekly (at least in her dreams!)
Makeover Mommaâ„¢ occasionally receives cosmetic products for review, with no obligation to positively promote or cover said brand. Receiving products has absolutely no influence over our recommendation of any particular product.