It was our 5th anniversary. I was a few months pregnant with our 2nd child and we had a toddler at our newly purchased home.
I think we went out for dinner, but honestly I can’t really remember.
See, I was tired that year. In fact, I was tired for almost a decade. It was deeply, overwhelmingly exhausted. My body was tired, my brain was tired. Every part of my soul was fighting to keep myself present and alive.
I remember back to that time period how hard it was. How my husband and I would attempt to move around each other in our home, both of us dissatisfied. I remember sitting in the dark with him in our hot tub where he would lay out his complaints about our relationship. How our romance was gone. How I was gone.
I remember listening and trying really, really hard to hear it, to understand and to want to solve the issues. But I was too tired.
I was in the trenches with kids, and home, and trying so desperately to find out who I was as a mother, attempting to land on my feet after being knocked off it by two pregnancies.
I remember just wanting this stage to be OVER. To have our life out of the “building” phase, to know HOW many kids we were going to have, where we were going to be, so that I could spend time living instead of surviving.
Back then we didn’t fight a lot, the hubby and I, but we also didn’t “mesh” very well. We loved each other, but there was a struggle for each of us to find our role in our partnership. We were building something, but we honestly didn’t know what and we kept getting our responsibilities mixed up.
We had babies, we worked, and we tried really hard to maintain our relationship.
But the babies needed to be fed, to be loved, to be played with. Diapers needed changing, kids needed to be dropped off and picked up and someone ALWAYS needed something.
By the end of most days there was nothing left in me. Not even a tiny bit. I had every ounce of anything already given out to our three young kids. I rolled into bed exhausted, my brain done GIVING and ANSWERING and PROVIDING. I was empty.
We were great parents. We spent time with our kids, together as a family. We went on adventures, and invested in their lives. And there was nothing left for “us.”
We hit rock bottom, probably more than once, and each time clawed our way back up, until eventually we stopped trying to live like that and put everything at risk, our relationship, our investments, our everything, so we could find some peace.
But we survived, my husband and I. I’m not sure how, but last night as we celebrated our 15th anniversary, we reminisced about those hard days. I remembered what it was like to always be saying “no, not tonight honey” because I just couldn’t handle sharing any more of me. I remember what it was like to wish I knew what he was thinking and how he truly felt.
We sat together last night, enjoying a bottle of wine and talking. There are no mysteries left in our relationships, we know pretty much everything about each other. Together in the past 10 years we have tackled demons, sat together in the dark and struggled through the uncomfortable parts of our relationship, each taken responsibility for our feelings and made changes to better ourselves.
We made plans last night for family holidays and shared our thoughts on our life as it is. We both exhaled sighs of relief that we made it to this place where our kids are more independent and we have a stable foundation for our life. We wished we had found this sooner, but both recognize all the things that needed to happen so we would.
We know what our life is now, and we know how we are living it. We know our relationship and how to work together as partners to give everyone what they need. We know each others personalities, thoughts and feelings, sometimes better than we know our own.
When we were first married we had ideas for our life, which turned into sketches, and then we spent 10 years of manual labour building and sweating. We now feel we are in the life we imagined, just adding the finishing touches, but spending most of our time living, and not building these days.
We have been waiting for this stage for 15 years, ever since that day we said “I Do.” Waiting to have the time to actually be partners together. Waiting to have a life.
And it is here, and we are living it.
(This post originally appeared on Three Chickens and a Boat.)