Struggles with My Marriage

I love my awesome wife Anne!

She is such an amazing woman…full of joy, inner peace, and a desire to help others. Anne comes from a strong family and makes our family strong by all the hard work, time, and dedication she puts into taking care of our home and raising our kids. As you saw from my previous posts, my family was so broken growing up so I’ve learned so much about a loving family just by marrying Anne and seeing the way she loves and interacts with her family on a regular, continuous basis. Anne is so focused on supporting me and my business and passions while at the same time building up her own career and raising our children – I am super blessed to call her my wife. Even though we have a happy marriage, there are times we struggle! :)

On Facebook and other social media, it’s easy to just focus on the good sides of our marriage, our relationship, and our family. However, it’s important to also be real and open about the areas of our marriage which we struggle in and are working to improve. I think there is a massive difference between the “Social Media Marriage” and the “Real Life Marriage.” One is artificial and focuses mostly on the positive while the second is deeper and focuses on both the good and the bad. Even though the Real Life Marriage is much harder than the Social Media Marriage, it’s the one I have chosen and committed to working on and growing day by day, moment by moment. I consciously choose a real life marriage full of the joys and pains rather than an artificial online one.

So, here are the top four areas of our marriage that we struggle in:

1) QUALITY TIME TOGETHER

With 2 little kids (Rianne and Ryan, one is a toddler and the other is newborn), we struggle to make quality time together with just the two of us as husband and wife. Usually, the kids take up most of our time. Rianne always needs attention and we try to avoid giving her a phone or turning on the TV (as much as possible). Ryan is still only 7 months so we always have to watch him that he doesn’t eat from the ground, roll over or fall down from the sofa or bed, or get beaten up by his big sister (yes, Rianne loves picking on little Ryan). It seems that we spend so much time managing our kids, that we struggle to manage our own emotional and love tanks (within us as individuals and between us as a couple).

When Rianne and Ryan are both asleep, Anne and I are usually so tired after a long day of working and investing time in the lives of our kids that we often omit the time we need to spend together as husband and wife. We instead retreat to our social media or our personal hobbies instead of our quality time together. When we were dating, we actively and intentional looked for opportunities to just spend time together…whether it was hanging out in the park, having a meal at a restaurant together, or going for long drives together. Plus, we had our daughter only one year into our marriage so we didn’t get to build up the newlywed bond as much as we could have.

So, now we are at a cross-road – unless we are intentional about the quality time we spend together our relationship with suffer. I can see why so many couples divorce shortly after having kids…there is so much stress and demands for your time and effort that almost always the marital bond gets the least attention. We used to have weekly Date Nights every Friday evening and Family Day all afternoon Sunday, however, we haven’t been doing these important relationship building activities as much lately. I know that we are both at fault. I’m guilty for being too busy building my businesses and spending too much time blogging and on social media (maybe I shouldn’t be writing this and instead be nurturing our relationship). Time to go hang out with my wife! :)

2) LOVING COMMUNICATION

When we were dating, Anne and I would consistently speak lovingly to each other, not only using terms of endearments but also building up a strong bond of communication, trust, and respect by going on Coffee Dates, having regular Dinner Nights, and just talking to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend. We would have long, deep, and meaningful conversations into the middle of the night. Sometimes, it was more important just talking to each other rather than the actual topics we were discussing or the words we were using. We were simply getting to know each other….from strangers…to “the pursuit”, to dating, to courtship, to engagement, and finally to marriage. We are still getting to know each other and the best way is simply to talk…and talk…and talk (and then talk some more).

Now, a few years into our marriage, our Phone Conversations aren’t as romantic as they are transactional (“can you buy this from the grocery store?”, “have the kids eaten?”, “can you turn off the lights when you sleep?”). Even the Home Conversations tend to be kid-centric instead of marriage-centric. Our good friend Farhanna bought us a board game called Synchrohearts and a book called “Dr Love’s Prescription for a Romantic Loving Man.” We always need to read marriage books to nurture this life-enriching relationship. Both of these resources have challenged us to refocus on the quality, loving communication that built our relationship. This same quality conversation will be the water and seeds that cause our love to grow and thrive once again!

There is no formula for strong communication – we just have to do it. It’s an active, consistent choice to talk instead of ignore, to listen instead of assert, to communicate instead of ignore. We still use the word “Honey” a lot when we refer to each other and I think it’s a good thing because Anne is the only honey in my life and the only person I use that term with (and vice versa). Then there is the fighting. It’s easy to respond in anger when we feel that we have been wronged. However, it usually damages the relationship and makes things worse instead of solving them. We are very different in how we fight. Anne gets mad regularly but then forgets about it quickly. I get mad less often but hold it in and don’t forgive as easily. We both have learned how to adapt to the other’s fighting style.

3) PASSIONATE SEX

Sex is the single most powerful form of intimacy between a husband and a wife. It was through this miraculous sexual union that we made two incredible kids. However, since making them, we haven’t been having sex as often. Yes,…surprise, surprise….our sex life isn’t as strong with kids. However, instead of just accepting this as “The Norm'” post-childbirth, we must actively seek to build up our sex life as a couple. We haven’t quite figured out the solution to the “Sex Dilemma” yet. Of course, we are both sexual beings and it’s important to sexually connect for intimacy, pleasure, and passion (not just for child-bearing and procreation).

I guess one of the solutions is to put both kids in our second bedroom so we can have mommy-daddy “bonding” time. However, since we are co-sleeping with our kids, it’s often difficult to pick them up and move them just to have sex. In all honesty, we are just too tired to have sex regularly. When we are sexually intimate, it reignites a passion for each other that we sometimes forget in the midst of family responsibilities. Even a passionate kiss from Anne when I come home makes me want to stay home more or even come home early just to get that amazing deep kiss from her!

Yes, we struggle with our sex life since having kids. However, we must still be grateful with what we have in regards to our sexual life. I am super grateful to even have a partner to have sex with. I was single into my 30s so I am deeply appreciative to be in a committed marriage now. We must be grateful that we are biologically and sexually compatible to pro-create and have children of our own. We must be grateful that our sexual love for each other is able to create such incredibly cute hybrid babies. As Anne always says to me: “We make cute babies together!”

All it takes is a simple switch in perspective to really value what we have and work on it continuously.

Let’s have more sex, Anne! :)

4) FINANCIAL STABILITY

Right now, my wife is on maternity leave so she gets 80% of her regular pay. My business is doing well yet it has ups and downs. Plus, we have a mortgage and our credit cards are almost maxed out. We have strong financial goals and life dreams that need money as fuel to help make them come true. However, when your finances aren’t as stable as you wish, you have bills coming left, right, and centre, and you have groceries to buy, clothes that you need upgrading, and kids that are always looking for new toys, it can be a challenge and a strain in the marital relationship.

Money can’t buy you happiness but it can sure help with solving a lot of problems. I know with more money, we would fight less, have less worries, and be able to do a lot more to help others. In our desire to be financially abundant we have had to make sacrifices: we chose to rent for the first few years of our marriage until we could afford to buy our own place, we choose to eat at home instead of always eating out, we choose to spend more on experiences instead of objects.

In spite of the financial arguments we may have, it’s important to be grateful…living in Canada, we are blessed with an incredible lifestyle (our worst day would be the best day for many other people around the planet). We have a home to sleep in, food to eat, gadgets, toys, a car to drive, and much more than we really need. So, we have no excuses to argue about money….yet we do argue. It’s simple reminders in gratitude that have helped us live within our means and simply enjoy and cherish what God has given us.

Thank you for reading my perspective on our marriage and our struggles with quality time, communication, sex, and money. Anne definitely has her own perspective on these same struggles so make sure you ask her for the “She Said” point-of-view! :)

We just had our anniversary on Canada Day (Tuesday, July 1, 2014) – we survived three years together. Actually, it was more than just surviving. Overall, we have had an amazing three years as husband and wife (and as mom and dad). Yes, we have had some difficult times and some challenges along the way, but we still deeply love each other and are committed to each others growth. I wrote what I did above just to show you another side to our marriage: the real one, the one with ups and downs, with bumps and imperfections, but still with a lot of love for each other. I am grateful to God for the amazing gift of a beautiful supportive wife. I am grateful to Anne for choosing me.

I love you, Anne!

 

Ricky and Anne

Picture taken by Tobin Smith


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