There’s a small box quote that sits on my entry way table. I found it in Hallmark and the minute I saw it, I knew I had to have it. I gave it to Chris for Valentines day one year because of our joint love for Lobster and each other. It reads:
“Love is like Lobster, Really delicious, but oh my God, it’s so much work.”
You’ll absolutely understand this if you’ve ever tried to eat a full Lobster. It’s complicated, time-consuming, requires a plan of attack and sometimes painful. But in the end, that Lobster is delicious and totally worth it.
As soon as I read this quote, I knew that it perfectly described my 10 year relationship with Chris. We have a great marriage and friendship, but its taken SO MUCH WORK to get to where we are. Our life may look easy or uncomplicated from the outside, but that is far from the truth. We’ve had to deal with things in our relatively short relationship that most people don’t ever have to deal with. It’s been a struggle, almost from day one. But it has been the most rewarding, difficult, beautiful, exciting journey ever and I wouldn’t trade it for easy any day of the week.
It’s been 7 years since Chris and I got married. That day was perfect. It was all about Chris and Carly and our love for each other. Since then, we have moved twice, built a house, lived with my parents, had a terrible puppy (sorry Chewbacca, but its true!), got pregnant, lived through the infant stage, said goodbye to loved ones, dealt with financial & legal issues, managed significant health issues and still managed to stay together. But we are a long way from that special day where it was all about Chris and Carly. It’s easy on a wedding day to be madly in love with your person. It’s the only job you have that day. But when you add in all the every day extras like careers, children, family, etc. it becomes so much harder to focus on the most important thing in a relationship, the two you.
You’ve probably heard people say that it’s important to date your spouse. I always thought that was a silly phrase until we had our daughter. It was easy to find time to talk and have fun when all we had to do was come up with an idea. It’s so much more complicated now to date my husband. I have to find a sitter, make sure MCG has dinner before we leave, set up bedtime stuff, and constantly check in. Even when I’m sitting at dinner, I’m thinking about if she went to bed ok, if she needed Motrin for her teeth, if I remembered to tell the sitter that she likes to sing twinkle twinkle little star before bed. Being a mom is all-consuming. I’m constantly thinking about MCG first. That’s not a problem per say, but it definitely complicates a relationship.
I’ll be the first to admit that my relationship with Chris has fallen down on my list of priorities. I hate that. I hate saying it. But recognizing it will hopefully help me fix it. It started during my pregnancy and has just been getting worse and worse. I was so sick when I was pregnant that Chris was pretty much on his own for food and love. Some nights I slept on the bathroom floor to be closer to the toilet incase I needed to throw up. There was no cuddling and definitely no intimacy (Sorry for the TMI mom!) I was stand-offish and needy.
Fast forward to bringing home a newborn and breastfeeding. I felt like a cow. I was the only one that could feed and take care of the baby. I was a postpartum mom struggling with my post baby body and new role as mama. Forget love and intimacy. I just wanted a good nights sleep and for all of my body parts to not hurt.
Fast forward to Toddler and Stay at Home mom life. Most days when Chris comes home from work I’m exhausted from trying to manage housekeeping duties, my own work, and our sweet and mischievous little beast. How can I be lovey dovey when my tank is on empty? All I really want is for Chris to do the dishes and tell me its ok to go to sleep eat 9pm.
So, How do I fix it? How do I make my relationship with Chris a priority? I’m not quite sure yet, but here is what I have figured out so far. Maybe it will help you rejuvenate your relationship!
- Take some time for the two of you: We recently took a little overnight trip for our anniversary. It was AWESOME. Mom and Dad stayed with MCG (THANK YOU!) Chris and I went to Turning Stone for a round of golf and headed back to Del Lago for an overnight stay. We golfed, gambled, ate delicious food, had a great couples massage and spent some fun time together in the car. It was a little glimpse into the past. It reminded me so much of our trips back in the day. We held hands, drank wine, got a night of uninterrupted sleep and just had fun together. As much as we love our role as parents, coaches, teachers etc, it was nice to be JUST Chris and Carly together. No interruptions, no other people, just us.
- Find something you can do TOGETHER: Chris LOVES golf. It’s his competitive outlet and he loves the challenge of different courses and getting better every round. I golfed some when I was younger (my dad loves golf too!) but wasn’t super interested in it until recently. Now, I’m glad that I got involved in Golf. I love being out on the course and challenging myself. But the best part is that I get to spend time with Chris while playing. It’s nice to have a hobby that we share. We sneak away for 9 holes whenever we can. He teaches me how to hit a flop shot and I teach him to stay out of his own head during a round. We have some drinks, listen to music and flirt in the cart! We have fun and spend time together. We can also talk about golf stuff off the course. Between favorite professional golfers, courses, apparel and golf news, we have expanded our conversation themes immensely. It’s nice to have that common interest and for me to like something that he is SO passionate about.
- Give experiences not things: I left Central Michigan University on very bad terms. That experience is for another post, but you need to understand how bad it was in order for you to get this next part. I was seriously injured (concussion, spinal cord injury and a bad case of Post-Concussion Syndrome) and my coaches didn’t believe me. They pushed me to play and go to classes when it was unsafe and physically impossible. I had to “quit soccer” and come home to Webster. It was awful. I didn’t leave on my own terms and had minimal support from the CMU staff. Recently, we made a trip to Michigan for a Liverpool Soccer game and the plan was to drive through Mt Pleasant because I hadn’t been back in 11 years. Unknown to me, Chris contacted the current Women’s Soccer coach at Central and let him know we would be on campus. When Chris told me what he did, I was a lot of things; sad, angry, anxious, unsettled, scared. It was nice of Chris to reach out, but he really didn’t get why I was apprehensive and scared to go back. To make a long story short, Peter McGahey, the Women’s soccer coach, is a rock star. He welcomed me back with open arms, showed us all the facilities (new and old), gave us a program update, gave us some soccer swag and told me I was welcome back anytime. MCG was able to run on the track and in the turf bay where I spent so much of my time there and Chris was able to see my “college life.” After we said goodbye and walked back to the car I broke down in tears. I thanked Chris over and over for knowing what I needed even when I didn’t. That “closure” was a better gift than any piece of jewelry or amount of flowers he could ever give me.
- Put down those phones: UGH. Sometimes I wish we could go back to home phones and answering machines. Sometimes I would rather have a conversation on the phone or in person than texting and emailing. Kids these days don’t even know how to have in person conversations. The art of talking to people is slipping away. When you speak to someone in person you have to look them in the eyes. You hear the intonation in their voice and can see in their body language how they feel. This is so important in a relationship. You have to be able to see when someone is holding back, when they are upset, or when they are excited. You can’t do that through a GIF or emoji. So put the phones down. We outlawed them at family dinner. We talk to each other after MCG goes to sleep. We decompress from the day, talk about work for 10 minutes, allow each other to vent if necessary. But we do it face to face.
- Don’t stop feeling & talking: Its ok to be angry, annoyed, grumpy etc. especially with someone you live with. Chris hates that I leave cups all over the house and that when I get undressed for the shower I leave my clothes all over the bathroom. I can’t stand that he scatters mail and the newspaper all over every surface in the kitchen and living room and when he shaves he never cleans up sink. It’s okay to be annoyed with each other. It’s okay to be upset when someone makes plans without talking to the other. It’s not okay to not talk about it. When you become apathetic about each other’s actions, it’s a problem. You arent invested in each other at that point. Stay invested. Talk about WHY things bug you or HOW they make you feel. Keep talking to each other. The conversations aren’t always comfortable. But a coach of mine back in the day once told me that you can never get better unless you train uncomfortable. So push each other, have the uncomfortable and difficult conversations, it will help you learn and get better together.
Have you ever heard the phrase “You’re my Lobster?” For all my Friends fans out there, you probably recognize this as something Phoebe told Ross about his relationship with Rachel. For all you non-Friends people (go watch it, it’s on Netflix) but here’s a clip!
Lobster’s fall in love and mate for life according to Phoebe. And simply put, Chris is my lobster. It is fitting for how much we love seafood. He’s my one and only, my true love, my prince charming. He tests me. He pushes me. He makes me better. And although loving him may be so much work at times, just like Lobster, he is worth the challenge. And our love is so worth it.
So cheers to 7 years of marriage Chris! And to almost 10 years of loving one another with no exceptions. Thank you for all you do to make my life as imperfect and special as it is. I can’t imagine doing this life without you.
And to all of you reading, thank you for being a part of our journey. Your love and support is so important to us. I hope that one day you find your lobster. And if you already have, you relish the challenge of loving one another.
All my love,