“I get it now,” she says, not meeting my gaze across the table. “I understand why people say marriage is hard.”
I nod, trying to catch her eyes, trying to let her know I get it too.
My friend and I are both parenting teenagers, shuttling them to soccer practice and band rehearsal, debate tournaments and confirmation class; wracking our scattered brains to help with algebra homework; navigating mood swings (theirs) and hot flashes (ours); mastering Snapchat (sort-of).
Parenting teenagers is hard.
My friend and I are both caring for aging parents long-distance.
She recently flew halfway across the country to be with her mother, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
My husband’s father and mother have both died in the last five years, his dad just fifteen months after his mom.
Caring for aging parents is hard.
We are busy with work and family – meeting deadlines, teaching classes, answering email, scheduling appointments, emptying the dishwasher, dashing to Petco for dog food.
At night we fall into bed exhausted yet unable to sleep, unfinished items on our to-do lists pinballing around the inside of our heads.
We feel disconnected and distracted and bone weary.
It’s the season, we tell ourselves.
Marriage is hard because this season is hard. This is what I tell my friend as I sit across the table from her.
And yet I know, for me, this is not the whole truth. I know I cannot look to the current season as the only reason marriage feels hard some days. We are busy, yes. This season is demanding, yes.
But the truth is, marriage isn’t hard because of all I have to do. Marriage is hard because of what I don’t do.