My husband's co-worker recently said, "If you survive your seventh year of marriage, you'll make it." He explained how tough that year was for him and his wife — how they finally just decided to stop trying to change each other.
You know what that sounds like to me? Settling. And unfortunately, it's common.
My own marriage began in a haze of bliss and romance. A few years in, all of that hocus-pocus drifted away, and we were left with just the two of us sitting on the couch with all of our lovely imperfections. We got along well enough and were making it work. But, that's just it: We were only making it work, getting along and getting by. My heart ached for more from my man and our marriage. So you know what we did? We signed up for marriage counseling.
That's right, I said it — that dirty little phrase, marriage counseling.
The first year of counseling was tough. We laid everything out on the line, sometimes leaving sessions hating ourselves and each other. Sensitive topics were dissected with clenched teeth and insane discomfort. But then there were those moments of clarity, moments where we could see a glimpse of the beautiful future we were paving together.
At home, we'd practice our communication techniques, often failing several times before getting it right. We slowly learned to stop our cycles of arguing, eventually finding ways to talk calmly about everything from cleaning to intimacy. We found that safe place where we could ask each other to grow, improve and give more for the other.
I know many couples who are "making it work," completely unaware that their marriages could become so much more. But there's this stigma that counseling is only for the deeply troubled, those on the verge of divorce. In reality, it's for those who know there's more to life than just getting by. It's for those who believe their marriage and spouse have more to give. It's for those who want to experience the elation and pure joy that can come from that sacred union.
So often I hear the frustrations of the wife who wants her husband to acknowledge her postpartum depression or the wife who desperately wants her husband's help with household chores. When I suggest marital counseling to those women, they all respond the same: "Oh, no, we'll be fine." In those moments, I'm disappointed that they let the stigma of marriage counseling hold them back; they're not even willing to give it a try and see what happens.
After two years of marriage counseling, I can finally say that my husband complements and completes me. I can finally shout from the hilltop, "I love my man!" I can finally admit with all confidence that he has my best interest at heart. And it helps that he's finally taking out the trash, hanging up his coat and paying the bills.
So, you know what I'd say to my husband's co-worker? I won't survive my seventh year of marriage — I'll love it!