I recently met this older woman and I was talking to her about menopause and its challenges and then I asked her about her marriage.

“Coincidentally, we will have been married for 40 years tomorrow!” She said.

I congratulated her and then asked her the secrets to her success.

“I like him, he’s a good guy. We do lots of things separately, as in we pursue our own interests but we have also been through some very challenging times.” she said.

It made me think about what a big, long, wild journey marriage can be.

………..

24 years ago

…at the age of 28, we were married with our beautiful 6-month-old baby girl in tow. We were babies ourselves, young, wild and with no idea what lay ahead. We’d only been together for a few years and then embarked on two huge relationships – parenting and marriage.

I was hardworking and thought I could do it all, be a parent, run a business, be a wife and homemaker, have a busy social life and maintain a relationship.

I was super bolshy and thought I had it all figured out. I knew the right way to do everything and it was my way or no way. But underneath I was pretty insecure, struggled with my own demons and pushed myself way too hard.

We were a pretty tumultuous couple, with very little idea of how to communicate and our fights were mean and emotional.

We had been together 10 years, battling away, building a solid crust of resentment and with poor negotiating skills.

I had always seen my own therapists with varying success and now we ventured into couple counselling. Our counsellor used a fantastic method called Imago Therapy which involved active listening. It helped us to listen to each other with less defence but at this point there was some deep resentment that had already set in.

We ended up sitting at the edge of the marital abyss- that place where you ponder whether to go forward. Neither of us were happy but there WAS a deep and desperate bond. So, in that hardest moment we decided to forge on.

We had a lifestyle and marriage reckoning and it was exactly what was needed. There was too much looking outward and not enough focus on us. It was like the whole world disappeared and we were left standing looking at each other. We went on a wild holiday to Bali, riding a motorbike around the island – it was terrifying and exhilarating in one. Both of us felt like we had come close to some kind of death and now clung closely to each other.

Hope

This renewed connection became a time of growth for both of us personally. We really looked at how we communicated and tried desperately to keep on subject when we disagreed and to try and  stay calm. We had been in some really crappy patterns for a long time. We were kids becoming adults.

This is when I really began thinking about who I was, what I needed to change and what kind of relationship I wanted.

We were coming to understand what we both brought into the relationship from our past hurts. We could use language to try and give each other space when we needed to calm down. Most importantly we were learning to apologise.

As the years grew on, I think we understood that our differing parenting roles worked out quite well but that we both needed to work on what was presenting itself in our parenting. Parenting can be a battle ground and deserved some serious reflection. As my husband says – the truth always lies somewhere in the middle.

Long-term marriage is no easy feat.  There can be years of unrest. There can be betrayal, deep loneliness and questioning. I think it’s pretty much a miracle if two people can parent, live together and stay together over a long period of time. You meet that person when you are a baby with no idea how you are both going to develop.

There can be years of wonderful connection and exciting achievements and experiences. There can be times when you look at your partner in awe and can’t imagine being anywhere else.

We are still married and happy with what we have created over a long period of time. We have supported each other to achieve fantastic jobs and careers. We have two amazing kids that we have muddled through parenting to get to adulthood.

We love to travel together, play and enjoy music, spend time at the beach, go out together and eat, work on our home and we really love to laugh together. We love our amazing close friends and their children.

I think he’s a wonderful man with enormous humility. He is silly and playful and this brings fun and laughter to our marriage.

We still shit each other, fight and sometimes feel exasperated, but we are both happy to have tough conversations and work on the relationship. We are also very happy to do courses and get outside help.

We pursue our own interests and spend time apart which keeps us both fresh and interesting to each other. This has also been important to me during menopause. I’m probably a bit more irritable at times and I require more time alone.

Ours is not a perfect marriage and it has been a big wild journey, but there’s love, fun, acceptance and commitment and I guess somehow that’s how we got to 24 years.

2 replies
  1. Jeni
    Jeni says:

    Fantastic insights and honesty Sarah. Thank you for sharing and helping others feel less alone in their life journey.

    Reply

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