Making the Grade

Back in the day…way back in the day…when I was in elementary school I made Straight A’s. It was easy. I didn’t do any work above what was assigned, did most of my homework at school and aced all the tests. Then in high school I made A’s and B’s…the work was a little bit harder but still, it came relatively easy for me. I learned that if I took notes in class and reread those notes the night before the test then I would, generally, make an A on that test. With the exception of Math…that’s how I went through all of high school. By the time that I got to college this idea that I didn’t have to do any of the work to make decent grades was firmly rooted in my brain. After all, for 12 years the work had been easy…college, I was about to learn, was a different story. Those first 2 years in college were honestly still a breeze. I mean, sure, there were the math classes and science classes that to this day I still don’t like to talk about. I never made a passing grade in Statistics, and let’s not even talk about how I took Botany because I thought it was going to teach me how to plant a garden. {Head’s up…it doesn’t} But, overall, I still did pretty ok. Then I went to the University of Florida.

just us

Suddenly my “I don’t have to study because I’m naturally smart” didn’t produce the grades. Well, it produced grades…but none that you want to write home about. Yet, I refused to give up my scholastic identity. The thing is…I knew all along that had I done extra work I would have made straight A’s throughout school…but I didn’t care. I wasn’t going for straight A’s…I was perfectly fine with a few B’s and C’s. I was even fine with mostly B’s. Why on earth would I put forth effort if I didn’t have to? And then, when push came to shove, when I needed to put forth effort in order to make the grade I refused to. It seemed that mentality was too ingrained in my head for me to change. I didn’t graduate from the University of Florida. I ended up at the University of North Florida…and I never even told them that I went to UF because the grades were that bad.

carriage ride

Why am I telling you this? What’s the purpose for this trip down memory lane?

My marriage.

love in the sand

See…it turns out, my marriage is following the same pattern as my schooling. If you were ever to ask me why I married Brad, I would tell you without any pause, “Because it was the most natural thing in the world for me to do.” Marrying Brad was as natural as breathing. Honestly. There wasn’t serious thought involved, there wasn’t a list of pros and cons, there was no hesitation…whatsoever. I met him, a month later we started dating…and that was that. From that first date we spent almost every waking moment together. We loved spending time together, we hated being apart, every day was something new, something wonderful. I would show up to work and there would be flowers on my desk, or a love note in my lunchbox. It was easy to pour out love on the other person. I was easy to shower him with affection. It required no thinking, and certainly no work, to keep the romance alive in our relationship.

Erin's wedding

And then we had a baby.

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Everybody told us that things were about to get hard. Everybody told us, “make sure you keep your relationship a priority”. Everybody told us that it doesn’t come natural and you have to “work”. Had you asked us, we would have told you that “of course our relationship is priority”. We would have told you that we’re still doing a good job at keeping the romance alive, and that our marriage is still easy. Now, don’t get me wrong…nothing has changed when it comes to how much we love each other. Actually, that’s a lie…a lot has changed when it comes to how much we love each other. We love each other more…much more. We appreciate each other much more than we ever have before in our relationship. But something is different…

birthday 2009

The difference is that it now takes work. Our relationship takes work. That’s what we said, but didn’t do, for the first 8 months of being parents together. And that’s how I ended up crying for 30 minutes, tears just streaming down my face, as we drove to church last week. I missed my husband. But I see him every day, I talk to him every day, I snuggle up in bed with him every night….but I miss him. I miss being a wife. Friday night we sat in bed and had a good long talk.  {I always wait to have those deep long talks when we’re going to sleep…Brad hates it.} We have been co-parents. Because of time, energy, stress, and just sheer exhaustion we haven’t done the work needed to maintain the euphoric relationship we used to have. Rather than invest in each other at the end of the day when we have those blissful hours of quiet before bed, we watch tv. I stare blankly into space. I read blogs. I don’t feel like I have anything to offer, anything to talk about. We didn’t solve the world’s problems, and we certainly didn’t solve everything that we discussed, but we talked. We brought our marriage into the Light. We acknowledged that we are not this crazy freak of nature couple who never has to work on our marriage. We’re normal. We have a normal marriage. We have a wonderful marriage. And our marriage takes work.

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See, here’s the deal, I’m not willing to make anything less than Straight A’s in the marriage department. I’m not willing to “just survive” the baby-making years. I’m not willing to let my marriage suffer, or take the back burner because we brought a kid into this world together. Now, I know that marriage has an ebb and a flow to it. I know that our marriage will never be the same as it was when we first started out. It shouldn’t be the same…we’re different, there are different elements to our marriage, our life is different. Having a baby changed our marriage forever. It changed us forever. But 10 years from now I don’t want to look at the man sleeping beside me and ask myself, “What happened to my marriage?” No. We’re going to put the work in now, lay a solid foundation for how we approach the combination of marriage and parenting…and 10 years from now, when life is so chaotic we can’t think straight…we’re going to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

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5 responses to “Making the Grade

  1. Good for you! It’s great to see that people are still willing to work on their marriages. I feel the same way and I have to keep reminding the hubby that it’s hard work but we’ll get through it. Keep up the great work!

  2. Excellent post, Rebecca! I felt the same way–marriage wasn’t as tricky as people made it out to be . . . until a baby entered the picture. But I am likewise convinced that at the end of my life the things of which I will be most proud are my marriage and my family, precisely because those will be–must be–the things that I put the most time, the most energy, the most love into. Good for you for starting these conversations now (I tend to bring heavy topics up right before bed, too!). I hope you and Brad have a great week with your new focus!

  3. Jessica Proffit

    A.Men. Thanks for your honesty, Rebecca. Timothy and I just celebrated our first 8 years together. It HAS been hard, but rewarding. And there are too many Christian women out there who (not directly, of course) make me feel like crap b/c all they want to talk about is the dandelions and rainbows of their lives, all covered in scripture and glory. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about some positive confession! Let’s just say that your transparency is a breath of fresh air and encouragement. Sometimes we don’t need the silver lining version, just someone who understands and knows where we are!

  4. rachael sonnborn

    I bring the heavy conversation at night (in bed with lights out) too…. Sascha absolutely hates it and can’t figure out why I can’t bring it up earlier. Too funny! It must be a girl thing! : )

  5. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement! It means so much to me =)

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