Throughout my life, some of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced have been while bearing the title of “mom.” I’ve been a teen mom, which forced me to quickly grow up and live in the “adult world” before even obtaining my high school diploma. I’ve been a single mom, raising my daughter on my own with minimal contact from her biological dad. (I do have to add her Dad’s side of the family as well as my own are credited in part for my having successfully survived her first few years before I met my husband). I’ve been a stepmom, witnessing first hand the complications faced by blended families. I’ve been a NICU mom, and watched my two daughters get poked and prodded, living in incubators and hooked up to IVs as their tiny premature bodies struggled to adapt to their new environment. Despite not being fully prepared to take on these challenges, I made it through these difficult “mom-hoods” and as a stepmom and NICU mom, came out on top with my marriage not only intact but stronger than ever. And then twins. TWINS.
Hands down, being a twin mom has been the most difficult journey so far. Marriage in itself is hard. (I’m trying to set a more serious tone for this article and refraining from inserting any jokes…not easy…) But add a few kids into the mix and things can (and will) quickly get complicated. Add twins…well, to be blunt about it, I got to the point that I REALLY didn’t like my husband. Everything he did or didn’t do annoyed me. He even sneezed wrong once and I swore I’d finally look up that TV lawyer that promised a quick divorce for $99 (what a deal right?!) It could be that the ridiculous sleep deprivation turns you into a cranky, short tempered lunatic (me!) or the fact that your parenting duties, expenses and waistline suffered a two-fold increase. Parenting twins is not for the weak. Neither is staying married after twins. They say fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, and for couples with twins that rate is higher. So far, I’ve been pretty good at defying the odds against me. I’m pretty optimistic about doing it again.
Common sense tells us there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. You have to expect the miscommunication, the misunderstandings, the impatience, the anger, frustrations, stress and so on. But if there is love, real genuine I- can’t- live-without-you love, you have to expect to work for it. You have to let go of your own personal issues and be willing to work them out, not alone, but with your spouse. The last time my husband and I drove each other nuts I came to him and told him, “I choose happy. I choose to be happy with YOU.” It IS that simple. I promise. Once he declared the same, we got to work on figuring things out.
Who is in the wrong?
Want to know a secret? It’s usually both of you, one way or another. The other day my husband got upset because I missed a few turns when we headed to a couples therapy session (don’t you love the irony?). I am the epitome of the stereotypical woman driver. I’m actually worse, especially with directions. (Sorry my beloved feminist friends, I don’t believe the stereotype but can’t help the fact that I fit it). Needless to say, he was impatient and short with me which caused me to miss even more turns. My response? Even worse. Though it seems like a minor issue, these little things are enough to ruin your entire feng shui (learned that term during the therapy session). When we finally arrived we both knew what the other was thinking. The tension wasn’t worth it and we quickly apologized and hugged it out. (Side note: apologizing by saying sorry I married an impatient idiot doesn’t count. At least that’s what John said.) Once you decide it’s more important to fix an issue rather than being right, you start to see more clearly that you CAN in fact be wrong sometimes. Admit this and learn from it.
What exactly is the problem?
What I’ve found with this question is that it’s always boils down to one thing: lack of proper communication. I say proper because communicating with hostility and anger will only make things worse. Would you like more help during nighttime feedings? Do you need an hour to yourself so you can recharge and prepare yourself for the next round of not sleeping? Are you lacking intimacy and want to get back to how it was before children? Do you need to figure out how to awaken your sexual energy from the dead after tirelessly running your household and just not feeling very sexy?
How can it be fixed?
Every issue is fixable. Every. Single. One. Whether you can figure it out amongst yourselves or seek assistance from a friend (tread carefully here – some are in it for the drama, not to help), a pastor, marriage counselor or the self help isle at Barnes and Noble, there is always a solution to be found. You just BOTH have to be willing to make things better. Which brings me to my last point…
Do we WANT to fix it?
One day my husband may very well answer this one with a “no.” That’s a reality. If the issues have ultimately gotten you to a point where there’s more conflict than happiness and you’ve had enough, it may in fact be time to walk away. Studies have proven that in general children thrive in “whole” families as opposed to “broken families.” (Yes there are MANY exceptions to that which as part of a blended family I’ve witnessed first hand). But a loveless marriage is a recipe for a lifetime of misery and you’ll bring your children along for the ride. Divorce is not fun for anyone, but when both parties aren’t committed and you’re simply staying married for convenience, it may be the best option. My husband was divorced when I met him. Had he not chosen that path, he never would have met me and been locked into a lifetime of happiness and bliss with the woman of his dreams. (Stop rolling your eyes my love).
I am not a marriage counselor. I’d never dare profess to be an expert on anything life-related, least of all marital issues. John and I have been at all time lows. We’ve come so close to walking away. But we always came back to each other. I am not claiming to know the recipe for saving any marriage. I’m simply sharing what has worked for me and can honestly say we are at an all time high. I am not always an easy person to deal with (ask anyone who has been close to me), but I’ve learned that acknowledging my wrongs, apologizing quickly and always accepting genuine apologies has made overall relationships stronger. It’s also saved my marriage. I’ll leave you with the same advice I give to my children. When faced with conflict between yourself and another person: always be honest, always be fair, and always, always let love guide your actions.
*You can learn more about my twin adventures and other twin tips by following my Instagram photoblog @thewaldonkids I look forward to connecting with you!*