Breaking Down Barriers
Marriage is hard. While it may be a storybook, it’s not a fairy tale. For anyone.
We see images on social media of other couples and they make us paint comparisons. They make us feel like we are failing, whether in our relationships, in our parenting or in our careers.
But, it’s just a front.
Marriage is hard, parenting is hard, work is hard. Life is amazing but hard. Nobody posts the hard stuff, though. (Guilty as charged.) I think maybe we should post our imperfections every once in a good while; if anything to make light of the fact that we all go through things, and our social networks are not intended to be brag books but to be a way to connect and to share your life with people who you can’t see every day.
My marriage isn’t perfect. My kids aren’t perfect. I don’t always succeed in these relationships. Maybe it looks like it is on social media. Like any couple we’ve been through our “stuff”. We’ve definitely hit rough patches, and we’ve both had our doubts.
My husband and I have been married now for a little over eight years, and together for a total of something like fourteen-ish. We met in high school in a computer class. I was the programming idiot and he was the wiz who would help us pass the class and keep my nice GPA sparkling and untarnished. We lost touch for a while and later reconnected toward the end of our college careers. After dating for a little over four years we married in our mid-twenties, a time in our lives where we were merely thought we were grown ups.
Eight years and two kids later, we’ve seen our “hard stuff” as a couple. And I’m sure we will see more along the way. But, what we finally woke up to and realized in year eight is that we had stopped talking somewhere along the way. We stopped really talking, like really talking the way we did when we first met. We would laugh a lot then. We would sit with coffee and talk about hard stuff, funny stuff, scary stuff. But, somehow over the years– with the stress of trying to grow up while married, and also feeling young and trying to find out who we really were as individual adults–we just had lost that ability to talk.
Asking each other how your day was is not talking.
Talking solely about the kids and what they ate for lunch is not talking.
I mean talking, like looking each other in the eye and saying what is actually on your mind, not what you think the other person wants to hear to avoid an argument. (I was so guilty of this for so long.)
We started getting really honest. I mean, really honest. Like, the kind of honesty you fear for the first seven years because you’re afraid the other one is going to wise up to who they married. We started breaking down the walls between us.
I’m opening up and sharing this because it is amazing how with this new full-on honesty approach, we have actually gotten mad at each other less. A lot less. We yell less even though the honest words seem like they would have the potential to hurt so much more. We hold grudges less.
There’s something about breaking down the barriers and getting honest that can open up one’s eyes to the other party’s side of the story. I’m telling you this as a Taurus who truly perpetuates the sign of the stubborn bull.
At times I’ve felt like I’m a lone-wolf in this world. I’ve felt like everyone else seems to have this marriage thing figured out so well, and this family thing rock solid. I’ve thought: maybe we just aren’t as perfect for each other as we thought on the day we said “I do”?
But what I’ve come to realize is that if I’ve felt this way, maybe others have, too, and it’s just to taboo. Honesty has become taboo. Why?
So I’m here to talk about it, to break down the social barriers. I’m here to tell you it’s okay to talk to each other with full on honesty. I’m here to share with you that marriage and relationships are hard. For anyone.
There are all sorts of strains that touch us and dig their way into our relationships. Whether dealing with financial woes, the demands of kids, doubts, health challenges…you name it every marriage has its ups and downs. Sometimes the waves just seem to crash against the rocks harder and harder until you feel like you can’t do anything except to let everything wash up on shore and let the pieces separate and dissipate on their own.
I’m not a marriage counselor. I’m not an expert on the topic. I’m just someone who’s learned through experience. Maybe, sometimes, we need first to let the rain pour and flood between the rocks, and then see what happens to the wave. Can it be calmed? After all, as someone very wise put on a t-shirt I once saw: Honesty is better than sugar coated bull$h!t
Taylor Shanklin, aka T-Shank, is a project manager, turned full-time mom, turned start-up lady. In 2015 she took on a new role of full-time mommy-hood and started blogging. After a few months of learning to deal with all-new encounters with both the joy and lunacy that comes along with raising her littles, Taylor took on a role as marketing director for a technology start up. She now spends half her days, podcasting and writing marketing plans, and the other half at the playground and cooking up fine bowls of macaroni and cheese. She spends her “me time” drinking insane amounts of coffee and diet coke while writing about the ups and downs of raising a family.
Needed this! I am blessed everyday. All the time. But it’s easy to fall into what feels like a trap- thinking of the things others have that we are lacking. I too, have been married for eight years now. And four kids later I feel like we don’t talk, like we’ve lost our way. I am anxious to share this article with him to get back to talking. Really talking. Adult talking. Being honest talking. LISTENING talking. And hearing. And WANTING to hear what the other person says. Thanks for sharing!
It warms my heart to know this helped even just one other couple out there. Thank you for reading and for your kind words.
I’m so glad to see articles like this. I was married almost 20 yrs and together for almost 28 yrs, we too were High school sweethearts before my husband passed away from a brain aneurysm on 11/9/14. We too had not really talked looking into eachother eyes in along time except for our last day together which I’m forever grateful, God gave us this day. I just wish we could have had more talks like this prior to our last day together. Our marriage was far from perfect, but we made it work because we both were in agreement to honor our wedding vows and to set an example to our 3 children to have a Godly respected marriage most of the time. Even though the craziness of life got in the way,we never gave up on eachother. He was my soulmate and for that I’m forever Grateful.
Through my testimony I hope to save marriages and bring people closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for your article.
Great great article. Short, to the point with lots of wisdom. Cheers to you
Great article…and I totally agree. I try this approach with not only my husband, but everyone dear to me (kids, parents, friends). Transparency is the best policy (even if the truth is tough sometimes). But, my question is how to “talk” with a husband who is stubborn and only wants to hold it all inside (e: silent treatment)? I know him well enough to already know most of his answers, but I want HIM to open up and say it. We can only move forward together if we remain on the same page and share our thoughts, dreams, etc together. Going through a rough patch right now after 10 years of marriage, 2 kids and a dog (and a big move to FTW 7 years ago). Thanks for sharing.