The Secret Is Staying Quiet

making marriage work

I don’t pretend to know for all what makes a marriage last. I really could never say. Sometimes, marriages end by no fault of one person or another, or sometimes, they do by the fault of one or another.

But for me, I think it has something to do with being quiet and just hanging up the four coats strewn across a dining room chair or just shutting up and putting away two pairs of size eleven boots that are precariously placed where someone could trip on them. For my husband, I think it probably has something to do with ignoring the fact that I don’t put away any laundry, ever, and smiling and hugging me when I burn dinner.

For us, the secret seems to be in staying quiet about one another’s insignificant faults but at the same time, speaking up when needed — like over essential things, character things, big things, kid things, but mostly in doing so gently and with respect. Sometimes, we do it loudly, I guess, but we choose our battles carefully. But otherwise, I wonder if my marriage has survived almost 15 years (and 22 years of a relationship) because we’ve learned just to accept our petty flaws? Because we’ve stayed quiet? Instead, we’ve focused, on most days, on what we do well and who we are at the core that really matters. This little stuff (while annoying) is just little stuff.

In a world obsessed with perfection, we just don’t expect it of one another, and I consider that one of the greatest blessings of my life. I’m lucky, yes, but I choose this life every day. I choose it and he chooses it and by doing so, I hope we can show these kids of ours that perfection in marriage isn’t real. Perfection in any relationship is just an illusion. It’s not always roses and champagne. It’s hard work; it is disagreement sometimes; it’s choice; it’s forgiveness; it’s acceptance. I hope they know it’s worth it and I hope they know it is because we’ve shown them.

As for me, it’s so much of who I am and while I know myself outside of my identity as a wife and mother, I choose to identify, primarily, as them. I am so many other things, but for me, I choose those roles first and he chooses the roles of husband and father first and for us, it’s made all the difference. It’s a choice every, single day.

Thanks for Mothering the Divide with me as I choose this life. I stand here in the middle of bedtime and snotty noses and bathrooms that need cleaned. I stand here with my husband, with deliberate choice, and while it’s not easy every day, I think the secret might just be to stay quiet on the days it seems harder.

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Kara Lawler
Kara Lawler is a mother, wife, teacher who grew up in and lives again in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range.  Kara’s work has been featured in many media outlets and some of her essays have been read millions of times. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for close to 18 years. After struggling with depression and anxiety, Kara remembered and accepted her identity—the person God made her.  Kara loves children, animals, and drinks her coffee on her porch every morning, no matter the weather, so she can admire the mountain view and listen to her rooster, Henry, greet the dawn.