I won’t bore you with the details of our love story, but my husband and I met when we were 23. We were both freshly out of college, and I was in the trenches of my first year teaching in the inner city. Our relationship moved quickly, and by the time we were 27, we moved in together, got married, and we were expecting our first child. Soon after our first baby, came the second.
While all of this was happening, my husband changed careers, I finished my Master’s degree one month post-partum with my daughter, and we sold our condo. We were also broke and maxing out credit cards to get by. I went back to work when my daughter was 8 weeks old, leaving a 23-month-old and a two-month-old home so I could work multiple jobs in addition to teaching. We needed to save money so we could start the process of determining where we would settle down. Fast forward another four years to the present. Add another kid, another move, more part-time jobs, and here we are.
I’m not sharing this majorly abridged version of the last eleven years for sympathy, a pat on the back, or a thumbs up. I know many others our age experienced a similar decade. I’m sharing this to show that we came out the other side changed people, a changed partnership.
My husband and I grew up together. Literally. When I think back to the early years of our relationship, even our years as young parents, I can tell you that we were kids who were doing whatever we had to do to get through each day. We were living by the seat of our pants, holding our breath and hoping one day, things would get more comfortable.
If you asked me five years ago, as we were anticipating turning 30, what made our relationship work, I don’t know if I would know how to answer that question. I would probably say something like, “He’s such a great dad!” or “He puts his clothes in the hamper!” Now I know that it is SO MUCH more than that. Of course, we could have waited to have kids until we were more financially stable, until we had a bigger house or until we were older and more mature. Still, the challenges and the hardships we faced together got our relationship to where it is now.
When you meet someone at 23 and marry that person at 27, how do you truly know that you are meant for each other? As I look back on my pre-kid life, there was nothing I faced that is comparable to the difficulties of raising children with another person.
Given that, I can say two absolutes have made our marriage survive the tough times; those are mutual respect and sacrifice.
Over the years, my husband has been my biggest cheerleader. He’s the one who encouraged me to take the time to write again. He has my back in every single situation whether he agrees or not, he steps up when I need to tap out, he puts my needs and the kids’ needs above others. We are a real team when it comes to caring for our family, our home, and making decisions. We’ve learned to react less and talk things out. In the last few years, my husband has sacrificed a lot of his time, money, and energy for the betterment of our family. Sometimes this means saying no to things we’d like to do, or something we’d like to buy.
It means looking past today to understand the future is brighter.
As we enter into 2020, anticipating turning 35, we both feel a sense of relief. Our life is a little less chaotic as we are not only just trying to stay above water anymore with toddlers and infants. Our last baby is 2 now; we sleep through the night, and we can go out without planning hours or days ahead. I joked with my husband last week that for the first time in my life, I actually feel like a real grown-up. He said, “Well, look at all we’ve done to get to where we are.” And, he’s right.
As life was happening to us, we were too busy to look up and realize that our relationship was evolving and growing along with our children.
For those of you who are muddling through a tough phase of life right now, always remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that my husband and I won’t be in a smooth or blissful stage of life forever. Neither of us is perfect, and many more trying times will find us, I’m sure. The lessons we’ve learned, the experiences that only the two of us have shared with each other, the growth we’ve made as individuals to be a better couple, will be the reminders to get us through.
Leanne is an inner-city high school English teacher with a Master’s degree in Special Education who was born, raised, and still lives in Stratford, CT. She married her husband, Chris, in 2012, and they have 3 children; Myles – born in 2013, Nora – 2015, and Bryce – 2017. Leanne and her family love to keep a busy schedule and weekends are spent at the kids’ sporting events, dance classes, or with friends. When time allows, she loves to catch up with friends, watch anything on Bravo and write about her hectic life as a mom of 3!