To mark our seventh wedding anniversary in February, I wrote my husband this letter, where I jokingly asked if we would survive the so-called seven year itch. We got married after being in a relationship for five years, and I was twenty weeks pregnant with our eldest daughter Polly.
We had led huge fulfilling lives before settling down. We’d travelled both independently and as a couple, and had made plenty of memories from our amazing experiences. We used to laugh until our bellies ached, eat in top restaurants, and partied many a night away. We had both sorted out our ‘shit’ (well my shit mostly). By the time we got married I had worked out who I was and what I wanted out of life. I’d been through mental breakdown, rock bottom and back, and was well on track to becoming the sort of person I once could only dream of being. I was, for the first time in my thirty years, stable, secure and happy.
By the time we tied the knot we had weathered many storms, and thought we had it all sussed out
Ultimately we were both ready for marriage and babies. Neither of us felt that we had a bucket list not being worked on, or that we’d be missing out on life by having kids. We thought that every aspect of our lives would be enriched and enhanced by them. We envisaged a healthy, unimpenetrable union, that got stronger as time went by.
Call it naivety, or wishful thinking, but never did I once consider that we would go seven years without having a full night’s sleep, and sometimes be so exhausted that I wouldn’t be able to muster the energy to even smile. Or that we’d at points go months without having sex, because when you’re averaging four broken hours per night, the only thing you want to do when you get the chance is go to sleep. Or that rather than come together as a team, we’d allow the stress from the children to get the better of us and drive a wedge between us.
I turned thirty seven in July, so perhaps it’s an inevitable age thing, but in the last few years I’ve watched as friends’ relationships have broken down and some have ended. I’ve seen couples grow apart, and a few end because of affairs. Or worse. Deception that goes far deeper than drunk indiscretions.
It feels like the once laughable, cliched midlife crisis is playing out before my very eyes
People change, we know that. When you’re in a long term relationship there will be a lot ‘sucking it up’ that has to be done, and sacrifices that have to be made for the greater good of the future. There will be times when your needs are understandably at the bottom of the pile, because other members of the family have bigger and more urgent needs that have to be met first.
Consistently putting our own needs at the bottom of the pile will do no-one any good, because that will more than likely lead to breaking point. Where you feel like screaming and want to walk out of the house and never return.
I’ve come to the conclusion that relationships are bloody hard work!
We are constantly told that the way to survive, and not end up a statistic, is by communicating with each other, so as to not allow ourselves to drift apart. We must also not allow ourselves to be tempted by other delights that might be lurking around the corner. The grass not being greener is a well documented fact after all.
The thing is, I don’t have the same naivety on my side that I once had. I know how tough things get. I learnt long ago that the answers are never found at the bottom of a bottle, yet I’ve still drunk a monumental amount of gin this summer. I know all the things I should be doing, but sometimes I can’t help myself. When sleep is in such short supply, good sense has a habit of going out the window.
Our twelve and a half year relationship is small fry in comparison to my husband’s grandparents, who celebrated their diamond anniversary a few months before his granddad passed away. It’s still a long time by today’s standards though, and is certainly worth celebrating.
Pipe dreams come and go. When the chips are down it’s worth remembering why you decided to build a life with that other person in the first place.
On that note, I’d like to leave you with this video. Seems pretty apt!