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How Did We Get Here?

Two seats ahead of me, I watched a vibrant, young, childless couple caressing one another in the cold vinyl seats of the Disneyland tram, while I sat in solo parent exhaustion, smothered in 3 children on the verge of monumental meltdowns. I found myself becoming melancholy and nostalgic reflecting on the couple my husband and I used to be.

At one time we were caressing one another, stealing kisses anywhere and everywhere, holding hands just because. Warm strong arms wrapped around my waist with reckless abandon was familiar. What was once a bed of romance and frequent intimacy where our babies were conceived and where we were always intensely intertwined while we slept, is now a place solely for rest. A place where, if and when we even fall asleep in the same bed and not on the couch, a cold dark valley presents itself down the center of the mattress as we excuse ourselves to opposite sides of the California King.

On the outside, we’re just living the dream. The “dream” to many people is marriage, kids, a house and perhaps a dog. The truth is that there is no dream. Life is what you make of it. You bust your ass to do the best that you can and prioritize how you see fit. Marriage takes work. That information is nothing new. Two people taking on life and the world together. The world, with its constant trials and tribulations, triumphs and defeats. Navigating the emotion and change that go along with that is no easy feat. Adding a family to the equation brings pure unexplainable joy but also copious amounts of stress and chaos. Differences in goals and commitment fueled by lack of communication can also bring deceit, separation and divorce.

I don’t ever want to get there.

But I am here.

How did we get here?

How do we get out of here?

Is here a bad place?

Are we both here?

Does he like it here?

Where is here, you might ask?

Here is a place where we inadvertently switch ourselves to auto pilot. A place where we put life’s routines and commitments above the commitment we’ve made to one other. Floating effortlessly from one responsibility to another while behind closed doors we are struggling desperately to stay afloat in a sea of complacency. We resemble robots, completing monotonous and obligatory tasks. We pass in shifts, leaving exhaustion as our only topic of conversation.

Instead of “you look pretty today,” it’s “did you wash any of my socks for work?”

“Come give me a kiss,” has turned into “are the uniforms clean for Saturday’s game?”

“I missed you today,” has now become “how much do we have in the checking account?”

I feel lost at times. I have transformed into the maid, the queen of errands, the school volunteer, and the perfecter of the Fluffernutter and banana sandwich, not a sexy desirable wife. He has become the financial provider, the handy man, and my brief relief from 3 children upon his arrival home after a 12 hour day, not the handsome hot husband.

Priorities have shifted and roles have become blurred. We need to be reminded of the two people we fell in love with and why. Strip away the exhaustion and worry, the obligations and trivial commitments and be reminded of our love and adoration for one another way back when it was just us. Reminded of the carefree and silly woman I used to be, buried beneath the strict responsible exterior. Reminded of his charismatic charm hidden beneath financial stress and obligation. Sitting in silence, merely going through the motions solves nothing. This is my marriage. This is my life and I’ll be damned if I am going to sit around and see what else here has in store for us.

So today I will slap on some red lipstick, showcase the long hair that so frequently sits imprisoned in a mom bun, and wear that simple green dress he always talks about which unfortunately hangs outcast and abandoned in the back of the closet for most of the year. Today I swallow my pride, make the time, make reservations, make conversation, make a connection and perhaps when all is said and done, make some love.

Are you here?  Isn’t it time to leave?

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About the author

Sara Pittman

Sara is from sunny San Diego CA. She is a wife, busy mother of 3 and amateur chef stumbling through organized chaos on a daily basis using sarcasm and humor to soften the blow...that's what she said. She will take any opportunity to demonstrate the running man in public and enjoys being a sarcastic smart ass.

17 Comments

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  • I read this yesterday and really loved it. I’m not married & never have been, but I was in a very long term relationship and lived with someone and know this feeling quite well. All the carefree love and physical contact eventually turned into nagging and just being irritated at someone’s mere presence (in my case, anyway). Ultimately our relationship ended, but it does make me think about how hard you have to work to get out of the monotony and the mundane ruts you can often find yourself in. Great post!

  • Ok, I’m pretty sure you and I saw the same couple at Disneyland, and had the same thoughts. Surely there aren’t two WHOLE couples who aren’t stuck with a chasm in their King beds, right?

    I love your point there at the end, and I’m going to do the same. It’s red lipstick time!

  • This is an honest, heartfelt, and beautifully expressed post. I know this place, because my husband and I are in this EXACT place as well. The effort of raising six kids on one income in an expensive part of the country takes a massive toll on our relationship. Every marriage requires mutual effort, but there are times when both of you,or “us” are merely on cruise control mode. Well said.

  • I see a lot of young couples who think that family life must somehow exclude their own personal needs and interests. The truth is that to be the best parent, you need to put some of your own needs and your relationship’s needs ahead of those of your children–and there are stages of child-rearing where it becomes absolutely necessary to schedule such time in spite of extracurricular activities, school events and the children’s own social events. After 27 years of marriage and 3 children, the best thing we ever did was to set aside time to cultivate our own as well as joint interests together as a couple, because the children do leave eventually, and if you don’t you then you risk finding yourselves as two strangers, alone in the house, asking, “how did we get here?”

  • Beautifully written, my funny bloggy-friend. Thanks for reminding me of the obvious. We’re here too. We’ve been here for months really. My daughter was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier in the summer. We’ve been riding the waves ever since, trying not to drown as she recovers – so far so good, but “here” isn’t much fun and I find myself wanting to just run away with my husband and be just.. us, before there was all of this. Truthfully, I’m too tired to think of packing. It is true though, there isn’t much a good red lipstick can’t fix! If I do pack, that will be top of my list to bring along!

  • This, this is so true. It is hard to stop and be aware of how things are. Forget about when things changed. They did. Somewhere between sweet words, babies, poop everywhere and crazy schedules it all got lost. I have three kids also and I try to remember my husband is more than just my relief for the day. We are luckily the best of friends who call each other out when we are being distant. We are 8 years into marriage and 11 into being together, we are still figuring things out. I do know that when the kids are out of the house years from now I want to look at him and be able to say “hi, you are here. Yay! Lets do this” having my best friend with me along the way is nice. Remembering that is the case is still a challenge on a bad day.

  • Sara, you couldn’t have said it better. My husband and I talk about this all the time! It is such a balance. We talk about the “phases” of our life a lot and know there will be a time where it’s just him and I again. I’m glad we can acknowledge and make the extra effort to be Husband and Wife and not just Mom and Dad ALL the time!

  • Sara, I think all of us parents can relate. I sometimes mourn the young couple we were, and even the exhausted parents of young kids we were. Now we are settling into empty nesthood and ahem, dare I say it…old age. Each stage of your life has its challenges and rewards. Keep trying to make it work, because I know, after 32 years, that it can still work.

  • Lately I’ve been thinking the same thing…how did we get here? How did this become my life. Some people see my grass as “greener” but sometimes I just want to go back to the way it use to be..before marriage…kids…and grown up responsibilities.

  • Very well-written. We are there too a lot of the time . . . BUT since our kids were babies we have ALWAYS made time for each other. Back then, we paid a babysitter so we could go out alone (or with the latest nursing baby anyway). It got easier as big kids grew old enough to watch little kids. We go out alone at least once a week. Those moments remind us of before. You HAVE to remind yourself of before so that you don’t get lost in the difficulties of everyday life.

  • I loved your honesty, Sarah. I think a lot of us are ‘here’ and though there is much to be desired, ‘here’ isn’t also all that bad. Love (romance) evolves and though sometimes it’s hard to swallow, I know I also need to acknowledge that commitment is love. And love (marriage) is hard work and takes a lot of grit. Perhaps part of the work is the willingness to wear that dress and heels and makeup and perfume every so often. 😉 Again, thank you for this wonderful essay!

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