Marriage is Hard with Kids and Grief


With the events of the Vegas shooting last night I was hit with this huge feeling of guilt.  Like why am I living the way that I am living everyday when I have so much right in front of me to be so incredibly grateful for.  But life is hard.  Marriage is hard.  Kids are hard.  Grief is hard.

Marriage in general is hard, but couple it with Kids and Grief, and it can be harder. I feel like the only thing I have in common with my husband lately is our three children.  This relationship that started out as the college sweetheart love story has been hit with some serious struggles along the way. And by no means am I blaming the struggles, but they certainly haven’t helped.

I feel like things started to get hard when I lost my father.  My father and I were close, closer than most.  I mean we talked all the time on the phone, numerous times a day. So when I lost him to depression, it was like my life changed completely.  My best friend and my father, gone in an instant, without warning.  And I don’t know if I expected my husband to fill his shoes, but looking back on it now, I think I was so angry that I lost him.  And why wouldn’t my husband be that next person that could fill his shoes.  But that’s not fair, my father and my husband have totally different roles in their relationship with me.  And I quickly realized that the shoes would never completely be filled.

But I leaned in to my mother as she did with me.  We got closer, we shared our love for my father, and we went about life.  I was think faced with another surprise when I lost her to undiagnosed breast cancer.  Just like that, my mother was gone.  How the hell was I going to survive this.  I still don’t know.  But again, I think I expected my husband to fill her shoes now, and often times I still do.  Even after months of grief counseling, and months of talking more about this, I still have a huge VOID and it’s been almost 2 years. Read more on this here.

So here we are, my husband and I, with a relationship that was once HOTTER than a bonfire, and now it’s colder than an ICE chest.  Why?  What happened?  Well, besides the obvious crazy life, 3 kids, lost both of my parents.  But why does this effect our love and relationship and the way we act towards each other.  We should be thankful with all of the crap that goes on in the world nowadays.  We are still here, together, with 3 beautful children.

Not that there is anything wrong with talking about our kids, but that is all we talk about.  That’s it.  After being together for 15+ years, living in 3 states, have 2 dogs, and 3 kids, all we talk about is our kids!  

It’s just that so much has changed in our life in such a short period of time.  Huge LIFE changing struggles.  That’s all I can think of.  And instead of leaning in to each other, we are drifting away. Marriage is hard with kids and grief.

We try to “date” at least once a month, we try to have weekly time together, but something always stands in the way.  We are both very hard working perfectionists, and our personalities clash because of this.  So when we do finally have time for each other, we talk about our kids, or nothing. What else can I talk about unless it’s about a massive poop on the potty or my 11 year old rocking her advanced Math class.

It’s not any one person’s fault that our marriage sometimes feels like it’s been reduced to conversations concerning toddler poop, the kids chores, and who will pick them up from practice. The last several years have been incredibly hard with the struggles that we have been dealt, but they’ve been full of good things too — a new baby, an amazing stay at home job for me, and of course our health. But the grief lingers……for me.  And making this marriage work is hard work with kids scheduled and grief clouds.

Still, these things monopolize our time, energy, and attention, and more often than not our time alone consists of dozing on the couch before heading to bed early on a Friday night, when the other nights of the week we can easily stay up until midnight pouring our heart and souls into our work.

Here’s how I feel, it’s not as bad as it seems. Children aren’t a bad thing to have in common, right?  But those children need to see loving parents, so why is it so hard to be that for them, for us.  We built this family together so why stop now.  I just need to know how because right now Marriage is Hard with Kids and Grief.

It’s completely acceptable for a marriage to be less exciting during struggles, but why is it so hard to push past them.   It’s crazy but I’m not at all insecure in our marriage. I know my husband is committed to me for the long haul. I know he’s on my team for good, I know he’s my biggest fan, but I need to FEEL it.  There’s a difference between knowing and feeling.  I know, sounds crazy.

And I hope he knows I feel the same about him.  I am his biggest fan, I am in this for the long haul.  I don’t need him to roll out a red carpet or even open the door for me or have amazing stories at dinner to tell me that don’t involve our kids.

But I know deep down in my heart that it’s NOT alright for our marriage to continue on this way. It may be completely normal to center our lives around our kids but we need more.  We need to get back to us because marriage is hard with kids and grief.

We need to find those things that we used to do before kids and do them.
We need to talk about those things we used to talk about before kids.
Right now, when the children grow up and leave the nest, what will do then.  
That’s scary right?  I don’t want to feel like I am living with a stranger.

So, while it may be true that this feeling is normal and it isn’t really any one person’s fault that my husband and I are struggling to find ways to connect in our tattered life with 3 kids and 2 major losses, it’s my fault if I let things stay this way.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what moving forward from here looks like for us, but I can feel that it’s TIME to move forward. Maybe it’s as simple as taking time to go for a walk alone once or twice a week, reading a book together, or taking a trip away with no distractions.  Not a work trip, not to go to a wedding.  A trip just for US, with no agenda.

Perhaps it will take more work. Maybe we’ll find ourselves in counseling for the first time. But whatever it is, I am willing to try it.

Either way, the grief fog is still hanging over my head and I don’t think it will ever go away.  And one of the only things that gets me through it, are my 3 kids.  But I know that NOW is the time for me to take responsibility for my role in my marriage; now is the time for me to lean in and make it better, together.  I just hope he will be too.

As always, to my readers, any suggestions are always welcomed.

And for a FREE copy of my 6 tips to handle grief in my eBOOK, click here!