“I just realized that everything I’ve been doing up until now, the bathing, tooth brushing, changing of the socks, being nice to people, trying to succeed…it’s all for nothing! All of those things are designed to attract. Why should I be attractive? I’m married… with children.”
— Al Bundy
Do you remember the times when you would always try to look your best if you knew you would be seeing your spouse or significant other? When life was less chaotic, and your biggest worry was your partner’s unexplainable bad habit pushing your buttons. A lot of people refer to this stage as “Marriage Before Children.”
Now, remember that unexplainable annoying habit that your husband does, that frustrates you more than anything in the world? Something so irritating, you never knew you could be that frustrated! Yeah, your child(ren) will pick up on those habits. THEN your patience will really be pushed to the brink of extinction. We call this stage in life “Married With Children.”
Unfortunately for me, I do not know of this “Marriage Before Children” stage. I got married after my daughter was born, so my entire marriage has been “Married With Child(ren).” The Newlywed Phase was filled with early morning newborn cries, and piles of soiled clothes and diapers. It’s definitely not everything I thought it ever would be. There are many days where stress and anxiety get the better of me. There are days we simply don’t like each other. Marriage is hard! Adding a child into the mix only makes it harder.
Like all sitcoms, Married With Children holds lessons to be learned. Masked with misogynistic and crude humor, Al and Peggy Bundy are just like all of us- just trying to survive this stage of life. Married with Children is essentially about being instinctual and surviving!
Peggy: “Hey Al! Did ya miss me?”
Al: “With every bullet so far!”
This quote rang true with me, except I am Al. Every day my husband would go to work, and I was left to fend for myself while keeping my rambunctious toddler alive. By the time he came home, I was ready to pull my hair out! Don’t get me wrong; it’s not his fault. He supports our family, and I couldn’t be more appreciative for everything he does. It’s just the stressful dynamic that a child, or multiple children, bring into the relationship. He got to leave his role as “Dad” every day for work when I didn’t. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way; it comes with the territory. But in order for me not to resent him for that, we had to keep our marriage in focus, first and foremost.
The most important time in your “Married With Children” life, is ALONE TIME. I get it, date nights are few and far between, but taking the time to separate yourselves from the craziness is crucial to any marriage. I’ve learned it’s important to keep your marriage grounded despite the circumstances around you; aka your child(ren).
The daily struggles of life will catch up, and you might think everything around you has crumbled. No matter how much you argue and bicker, if you have that solid foundation nothing can fully break you. It’s not about having the perfect relationship, it’s about doing what works.
“That’s the problem with everything. They try to make it better without realizing the old is fine.”