Making Marriage Work, And Blogging Too


andrea-124(1) In many ways I still regard myself as a kid, or at least younger than I actually am.  It’s hard for me to sometimes believe that I’ve been married for over 14 years, or that 3 small people call me mom.  Because my reality doesn’t always jive with my own perception of myself, I sometimes feel like I have no business offering advice on marriage, and even at times, on parenting.  But being married for over 14 years does count for something.  After all, we have more than doubled the national average, so I guess that’s a victory in our corner.

So if Art and I were sitting on a couch, fast forward, 40 years from now, and asked what it takes to make a marriage work, I know my answer would be love and communication.  I’m not sure how closely our answers would match, but without a doubt, that’s where I would start.  My answer may very well change 40 years from now, but today, that’s what my answer would be, and is.

August was quite a doozy of a month for us.  It started off with Art having an outpatient surgery, which is technically minor, but was still surgery and the recovery lasted longer than either of us anticipated.  Coincidentally, the same day he had his surgery, I came down with strep throat.  The worst case of it I have ever had, and I’ve had it a lot.  While he drove himself back and forth to the hospital to have his surgery, my mom was trying to comfort me in the waiting room of urgent care, where I waited for over 2 hours.  I was so agitated and upset after a bad doctor’s experience that I yelled at one of the nurses in the waiting room and afterwards, I grew terrified that someone may have caught me on video and would later publish my rant on Vine, like the crazy Apple lady.

As Art and I both recovered, Syd came down with strep again, for the 3rd time since May (he has now had it a 4th time), and Hayden got sick.  We spent the second week of August in and out of the pediatrician’s office.

The rest of the month, while we had some wonderful times including our road trip and Hayden’s birthday, continued to be filled with a lot of stress, of which the particulars aren’t necessarily important.

Tension had been building up between Art and I for a month, and while we weren’t necessarily fighting, we weren’t really communicating much and facing this very obvious tension between us.  Things would get better for a day or two, and then I would get annoyed that something didn’t get done, or he would be upset that I didn’t understand his stress and we were generally just cranky with each other on an ongoing basis, throughout the month.

Last night, things just sort of broke open and we talked.  Things started out tense and some angry words were exchanged, but by the end, I opened up and was sobbing something about  just wanting the time to print up pictures and work on Hayden’s baby book, and he just wanted to feel supported.  Our “fights” are so predictable now, in how they begin and end, it leaves me wondering why we even bother to fight after all these years.  We always come back to each other, we always end up opening up and breaking down.  There’s always a positive ending, even if there were hurt feelings in between.

So here’s where my two keys to marriage come in.  First, you must have love.  Sounds so basic and simplistic it’s almost silly, right?  Well, you have to hold onto that love for each other because it’s what will soften your heart to each other when you’re angry and irritated and disappointed.  Love is what will bring you back together when you drift apart.  Your love for each other will change in some ways, or during different periods of your relationship.  Some seasons your love will look more like friendship.  At other times it may be passionate and playful.  And still at other times, it will look like simple survival mode, as you cling to it with all you’ve got as you try to weather the storm.  But you must truly love your mate at the outset, and be committed to loving them even when it gets hard, because it is the main thing that will keep you going.

Next to love, you must communicate with each other.  You must open up and not let things fester and build up.  You don’t need to hash things out on a daily basis and confront every sideways glance or thoughtless word spoken, but when there’s tension, you must talk about it, eventually.  Art and I are notorious for sleeping very close to each other.  It’s the main way we’ve been able to survive 14 years of marriage and 3 kids with a Queen bed (friends balk at us for not having a King); because we only sleep on half the bed anyhow.  For the past month though, we’ve slept on opposite sides of the bed, only touching each other by accident.  Even in our subconscious sleep, our tensions we held onto during the day, seeped into our sleep.  This morning, after we spoke and opened up last night, we woke up side by side, curled up next to each other.    Never underestimate the toll ongoing tension can take on your marriage.

So why do  I tell you all this?  To be quite honest, I’m not sure.  I just feel like I needed to write what was on my mind here today.  In many ways Art and I are very private with our marriage, or at least talking about it with others.  I’m not one to nag about him online or in social media.  I may joke here and there with girlfriends about how he’s never on time or he’s forgetful, but I don’t ever make it a habit of hashing out the idiosyncrasies of our marriage with girlfriends (maybe sometimes with my mom or my sis).  I just prefer to fester in our issues for a few weeks until things get uncomfortable and then I’m forced to face them head-on with Art.  I’m only being slightly sarcastic.

After feeling how good it was to talk with my husband last night, I guess I just wanted to open up here and talk to whoever is out there reading today.  I’ve been disappointed in the content of my blog these past couple of months, to be completely honest.  I know I don’t owe anyone any apologies, but I guess I feel like I at least want to own up to it.  I know posts the past couple of months have been sporadic, there’s been a lot of sponsored content, and I’ve preferred to just stay silent and not post anything, than post just what’s on my mind.  For some reason I forgot that this is my blog and, while I realize and have respect that some of you come here for a very specific reason, I still have the freedom to write what I want to write here.  Or I guess, not write anything at all.

The transition to actually making money via blogging, primarily through my 2 outside writing gigs at Disney Baby and Babble,  is still new to me and something I’m still learning how to navigate successfully.  After being at it for several years and never really having a big break-through, I took the small successes I did experience, and ran with it, to secure those two paid writing positions.  Perhaps it’s a result of how I was raised, but I always seem to feel more comfortable and secure with the sure thing, and the secure, paid gig.

It’s why I abandoned my baby clothing line after just 6 months, and went back to work full time.  It’s why I held full time or part time jobs for the first 6 years of being a mother.  It’s why I finally had to step back from helping run Art’s business, because the ups and downs of not having a sure thing terrified me.  After 8 years of Art owning his own business, I’ve finally learned that a little faith goes a long way.  But it was a very hard realization to come by.

So I guess it’s why I always seem to fall back into that eager to please employee who will do whatever she can to succeed at her job and make her boss happy, even if it means sacrificing a bit of my content here.  I made a vow to always put my work here first, but when daily traffic numbers and post quotas and bonus opportunities are hanging over my head, it’s very easy for me to abandon my original vows, and focus my energy on the sure thing, so it can stay a sure thing.  And even after securing several sponsored posts in July on For The Love Of, I still made more at my other gigs than I did here.  Currently, I seem to be at that very perfect point in social media ranking to where I have just enough social influence to make me marketable, but still very affordable.

I love my job, and am so very thankful that I have the opportunity to help support my family with my written words.  And I will continue with that course until the opportunity no longer presents itself.  But I so desperately want to figure out a way to make it work here too.  To put the best of myself and my talents here too.  I can’t make any promises, and quite frankly, I guess I don’t have to.  But this space is still very important to me and I feel like I’ve just sort of let people down here the past few weeks.  Or maybe no one else has really noticed and I’m just being hard on myself.

This has turned into quite the ramble and I hope it still seems semi-coherent to some of you.  But the key to making any relationship work is talking, so I’m following my own advice and just pretending like we’re having a conversation here.

I’ve pretty much given up on trying to respond to comments here on the blog.  I know that’s terrible, but I’m finally just accepting that my time on the actual computer has to be so focused, that once I hit publish I usually have to get up and step away from the computer.  That unfortunately means not a lot of time to build the community I had once hoped to build in the comments section below.  It’s too hard to comment via my phone as well, but please please know that I always do my best to answer questions via a direct reply to the commenter, and I am kick ass on Instagram, in terms of response.  You can always just email me directly too.

My traffic numbers continue to thrive, so I know someone’s reading.  I’d love to hear from you if this posts resonates with you in some way.  What are your ways to keep a marriage going?  How do you juggle outside work and blogging?  Do you ever feel like your content sucks and you need to do something to recharge your creative juices?

Thanks for reading and listening and letting me have an imaginary conversation with you all.  It felt good to just talk today.

*photo credit Yung Bean Photography

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • jacqueline says:

    marriage is hard, and it just gets harder with each additional pregnancy and each additional rambunctious child. i agree wholeheartedly with you about love and communication being key. i would add, being willing to put your spouse’s needs before your own helps big time too. (not that we should ignore our own needs, but i’ve found that the more i put my husband’s needs before my own, he usually starts reciprocating very quickly!) i had a little laugh about the queen bed – i’m pregnant with our third baby and my 6’1″ husband and I still share a full size bed! makes it hard to give each other the cold shoulder when we’re mad at each other. we’ve often considered a bigger bed, but i think that little old full size marriage has helped our marriage in more ways than one! 🙂

  • Senja says:

    i really love this post and it hits home in many ways. i really like what you wrote here “Some seasons your love will look more like friendship. At other times it may be passionate and playful. And still at other times, it will look like simple survival mode, as you cling to it with all you’ve got as you try to weather the storm.” – it’s so true but i never thought of it this way.

    a favorite of mine is also this quote: chose your love and love your choice.

    thanks again!

  • Melissa Dell says:

    I feel exactly as you do, but I’ve only been married 5 years. I have no credibility to tell anyone how to do anything, but can only talk about being an expert in my own marriage. Open communication is important, and what we’ve learned recently, is being vulnerable as well. Teaching my Type A personality to back off and have Jon be the head of the house. I think what has helped us a lot is attending church together, and forming our faith for our house together. And next week we’re starting a Marriage Oneness bible study through our church – first time in over 3 years that we’ve done any sort of study together. It’ll feel incredibly awesome to hear so many other couples, married far longer than we have, speak and also to read the Word together.

    I hope you’re able to figure out where you want to lead here on the blog. I love reading your honesty and understand the need to generate income. but as long as you always tell YOUR story in the posts, I’m all for it!

  • amber says:

    oh you and I are in similar spaces. working on a marriage while trying to make a business thrive and raise children should be tax deductible. For reals.
    We work at things in a similar manner and have made more conscious efforts to talk things out in the evenings or morning when the kids aren’t around to interrupt. And I couldn’t agree more that the love you share goes through seasons. I for sure have no idea how this whole marriage thing works for the next 50+ years but I love hearing other peoples stories and finding new ways to work at it together!
    I spent the last two weeks “blog free” and it’s been great. I feel much more inspired and ready to put out content that I love and stand by. I think thats what gets hard in this blogging cycle we get so focused on what has to/ should be written that we sometimes forget what we’re interested in! I get the sponsored content and the necessity so it makes sense to me but I think it’s sometimes hard to make it interesting to us the writer and the reader. We’re so used to being free flowing with our words that sponsored posts begin to feel stifling to our creativity. (does that make any sense??)But so long as you’re telling YOUR story your way it still rings true as being authentic and not gimmicky.
    and I’ve rambled…..

  • Amy Renea says:

    THIS: Our “fights” are so predictable now, in how they begin and end, it leaves me wondering why we even bother to fight after all these years. We always come back to each other, we always end up opening up and breaking down. There’s always a positive ending, even if there were hurt feelings in between.

    YES. and double YES.

  • Kathryn says:

    That advice should be given to every couple “sometimes it will look more like friendship … sometimes it will look like survival mode”. How many couples break apart because they don’t understand it’s just the season they’re in. That you’re in it all together and sometimes that’s hard. And other times it’s beautiful.

    I’m struggling with how much I want to write vs just sharing the pretty right now as well. Writing takes more time and I’m feeling a bit in survival mode. Thanks for sharing.

  • anna barler says:

    OMG…all I can say is I LOVED this post!

  • Jamin says:

    As a newly engaged woman about to start on a new, married, adventure, I really love coming to your blog to find inspiration and learn from a woman, and a voice, that I can hopefully learn from as I marry and build my own family. And it doesn’t hurt that you have throw out some sass and have an adorable family to gawk at! 😉

    Happy writing and loving!

  • Janssen says:

    I love these kinds of posts – thanks so much for sharing. And I think your blog has been rocking it lately!

  • Janssen says:

    I love these kinds of posts – thanks so much for sharing. And I think your blog has been rocking it lately, but I can totally commiserate on the “sure thing” betting. I’m 100% that way too.

  • Jenn L. says:

    This post is perfect. It hit home in so many ways. Well done!

  • Ali says:

    I truly appreciated this post for what it was. Feels like my life a bit lately. I am not a serious or paid blogger, but I have been itching to get more involved and write more- for me, not for anyone else. But I have been struggling to balance working and my marriage. Thank you for your reflection on your life. As crazy as it sounds, I appreciate your honesty and feel a bit relieved to know there are others experiencing a little tension and striving for balance in their lives! xo

  • Krissa says:

    Congratulations on 14 years–it’s a big accomplishment…marriage is hard and it’s always encouraging to hear from those making it work through the hard times as well as the good. 🙂

  • Erin says:

    This post is fantastic. I hear you though. I started blogging last year and have totally fallen off the wagon. I have a 11 month old who constantly needs my attention (its ok bc hes cute), a 2 year old as well. I am working part time from home for my old company (which is taking up so much time I might need a nanny) i used to work full time for. Any free time I have now I just want to spend with my family but I get so stressed out about it.

    It is hard to get it all done and I do get frustrated with my husband because he sometimes he doesn’t get that I can’t work, do some household chores, take Claire to her pre school class, work 15 hours a week, have time for blogging, etc. My husband and I are good at talking about it though and we take a few times to go on day dates with just each other just to reset. We really are very open with each other and listen to one another concerns and frustrations. Anyways this post really resonated with me.

    I love this post, love your blog and am an avid reader, you are so relatable and realistic. 🙂 all the best!

  • JT says:

    I love this post. It actually brought tears to my eyes. Personally I love that this blog is just about you and all types of stuff. I don’t need to you post a ton of stuff just to fill space. I know when I read something from you it’s good and well written. 🙂 I pray you will figure out what is best for you and yours. You have a lot you are involved in and it’s always so impressive! As a new mom it’s good to hear tips and ways you make it work. I know there is no magic trick but nice to hear it from someone who has been on the road a bit longer. 🙂

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