My husband and I will have been married for five years on October 22nd. In the blink of an eye, five years came and went. We went from one kid to four. From an apartment to a house. From dead-end jobs to real life careers. We lost a dog that was loved so much, and gained a puppy who has mended our hearts. We fell in and out of friendships, found new hobbies and dropped old habits. Turned dreams into goals and goals into accomplishments.
And we fell out of love.
Somewhere along the way, the infatuation we were infected with started to dwindle. The spell was broken. Our rose colored glasses started to come off, and we were completely exposed. We stood there, staring at each other in all of our dreadfulness. My disdain for waking up early. His anxiety when the house is disorderly. The silent treatment I give him when he wants to argue. His unwillingness to see things my way. My unwillingness to compromise. We were completely blindsided.
This is what they were talking about, those vow-writing people when they included “for better or for worse”. We were just casually skipping along in newlywed dream land, unaware that the other could have any type of real flaws. We were free of any real substantial problems and there were none in the foreseeable future. We could handle anything that came our way. Our marriage was rock solid as we wallowed in our ignorant marital bliss.
Until it wasn’t.
Something happens when you’re married for five years. You hear people talk about it. You may see it happen to people you know. Eventually, around that time, the dizzy, enchanting, and addictive feelings you have towards your spouse will start to fade. It’s science. It’s just the way we operate (most of the time). You start to see your spouse for who they really are. Imagine you’ve been drunk for your entire marriage and finally you’re sober. It’s really like that. You see his character flaws. His bad habits. His insecurities. All of it. And when the high wears off, all of those things are magnified.
As you can imagine, this is the point where many people are questioning their marriage in it’s entirety. “How did I end up here?” is a common thought. “I didn’t marry this person.”, and “Did I make a huge mistake?” are also common. The good news is that this is completely normal. If you and your spouse are truly committed to each other, like you declared you were on your wedding day (remember, for better or worse), then you could just be getting to the really good part.
Love is a choice.
When you were infatuated with your spouse, it was easy to love them. It was easy to disregard their shortcomings. Now that you see them for who they really are, they might actually really annoy you. But you have a choice in how you respond. You can choose love. It took my husband and I a while to figure this out, and we’re still learning. Even though the infatuation isn’t what it used to be, we still love each other. We still want to be together. But we had to realize a couple of things.
- We aren’t responsible for each other’s happiness. I am responsible for my own happiness and he is for his. We can do things to make each other happy, but ultimately our happiness comes from within. If we are truly happy with ourselves, it’s easier to be happy with each other.
- We can only improve ourselves. I can’t force my husband to be or do anything he doesn’t want to. But I can work on myself to be a better spouse to him. And in turn, he’ll (hopefully) do the same for me.
- Love is a choice. It’s choosing love over being right. It’s choosing love over having your way. It’s choosing love over anything that is less important, because at the end of the day, your spouse is your life’s partner and your relationship with them is the most important thing.
We are learning compromise, and self care, and self-improvement. We are learning how to work together, even with all of our flaws. And we are learning to forgive each other for our humanity, because I can’t expect him to be perfect if I’m not perfect myself. If he can continue choosing loving me, all of me, even without his love-drunk goggles on, then that man deserves all of the love that I have to give. And that, my friends, is real love, and it’s so much better, deeper, and more fulfilling than infatuation could ever be.