I’m going to talk today about something that secular homeschoolers don’t discuss often—Marriage. This year marks my 20th wedding anniversary, so I’m going to pretend that it gives me the wisdom to share. Bear with me.
Fairy tales make marriage sound simple. It isn’t. It is a long, complicated relationship that ebbs and flows. A relationship that has to be constantly rebalanced and readjusted to make it work. It isn’t a carriage ride off into the sunset. It is a life long road trip in an old Ford truck. Sometimes it goes great, holds everything and all is grand. And other times you need to take turns with who drives and who gets to sleep. Sometimes it needs refueling and an oil change. But sometimes it needs a full-on rebuild.
In a healthy marriage, you will disagree and make compromises. You will cope with all the challenges of life together, and being together through them will make them easier to bear.
The Challenges Aren’t Always Equal
Women’s magazines would have us believe that every marriage challenge is a “both of us” problem, but that isn’t always true. Sometimes, just one of you needs therapy, a new job, or a break. But the thing that will make your marriage last the test of time is simple. You both have to be willing to do the work, whatever that means.
Sometimes the work is agreeing to move so your spouse can get that new job. Other times it means taking care of yourself so you can be a complete and whole person in your marriage. If one partner struggles with anxiety and depression, then that one goes to therapy and to get help. That’s their share of the work. But the other partner has their work to do, too. It is different, but no less important to the success of your partnership.
Filling Your Truck
And to go back to my truck analogy: You will fill that truck with habits, memories, and choices. All the big and little details that make up a life. At some point, that truck will become too heavy to go on and you will need to unpack it. You will need to look through all you are carrying in your life together, and talk about all of it.
At that point, you have to agree on what goes back in your truck and figure out if you have to rebalance the load. Do you need to trade who is working outside of the home? Do you need to move half the housework to the other side of the truck? Maybe you need to ask the kids to sit closer to the middle so your spouse can be in charge of them more. Or you need to change other habits or try new things to keep your life running smoothly. Are you both doing what you each need to do to be whole, complete people that can do your share?
Finding Balance, Again and Again
Rebalancing the truck over and over is what keeps your marriage moving along. Divorces happen when you can’t repack that truck together.
My husband and I have rebalanced our truck many times now. We’ve had times we had a weekly date night and far more times we’ve just made a point to talk to each other each night over dinner. We’ve had times we were wonderfully connected. And we had times when I slept with my barefoot on his leg at night while I held a baby in each arm, and that was as much “skin” contact as our marriage got. We’ve tried new things and walked away from things that didn’t work. Each rebalancing gave us the fuel to keep trucking along. But we know we’ll need to rebalance again. And we know we will figure it out.
Extra Heavy Cargo
Being a homeschool family puts an extra load on our marriage truck. It means that balancing things can be harder and require more work. Because we added homeschooling to the mix, the back and forth of who does what is more complicated. Homeschooling isn’t just working with the kids, but planning, prepping and reading up on what they need. It also has meant financial sacrifices, which are never fun. But we both know that homeschooling is what is best for our kids, so we make it work, and we keep going, together.
Other couples have an extra load in their marriage truck from chronic illness, an extended family member having to live with them, or difficult financial situations. There are as many reasons that someone’s truck is extra loaded down as there are marriages. One thing I know for sure is that you can never really understand someone else’s marriage. Behind closed doors, we balance our trucks. We pick up both small chores and big emotional work and carry it for our families.
Marriage is complicated and dynamic. I hope that all of you who are married, find a way to keep balancing your truck, together.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.