Sunday, July 31, 2016

Promoting Marriage: the good, the bad, and the smelly

There has been a trend going around Facebook this past week called the "love your spouse challenge." The challenge is to post a new picture of you and your spouse on Facebook for 7 days in celebration of love and promotion of marriage. It's a very nice idea. I took the challenge and failed miserably. I managed to post 3 pics of me and Steve Summy here and there and then I just forgot, or lost interest, or something.

Everyone jumps on board with these Facebook trends because it sounds really sweet and fun, but there is no real thought to it usually. The idea is the promotion of marriage through beautiful smiling pictures of you and your spouse as if to say "marriage is super great and awesome and easy and full of smiles and beautifully posed pictures!" As I scrolled though my friends images I thought... that is not at all what marriage is like. Maybe if we are going to promote marriage, we should promote the good, bad, and the ugly and the fact that we are STILL holding on even if just by a thread.

This year, should we make it to October, Steve and I will celebrate our 15th anniversary. We have been very blessed with a mostly happy marriage. And I use the term Happy loosely. Happy will get you into trouble these day. I hear about more and more marriages falling about because one or both people was no longer "happy". So maybe I should say we have a nice, uneventful, satisfactory marriage with small bursts of happiness. Just to be on the safe side.

I have been reading Melanie Shankle's book "The Antelope in the Living Room"  recently and in it she talks about New Love vs. Old Love(I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love all the words Melanie Shankle writes. Do yourself a favor and check her out.) When Steve and I were in college and in New Love we talked on the phone for hours at night. We brought Sonic drinks up to each other while the other one was working long hours in the lab. We went running at 11pm. We went to stupid drum (only drum. no other instrument.) concerts and I pretended to enjoy it. For the first few years after getting married we were still in the New Love stage. Getting up early to work out together (again with all the exercise! Geesh!) and doing our laundry together and grocery shopping together. Together was a very big thing for us back then.

Fast forward 15 years and we have 3 lovable and active kids, a nice home to keep up, and jobs and responsibilities, yet we still love each other very much. But our New Love has become Old Love. As Melanie puts it, Old Love looks very different. Respect, comfort, and convenience have taken precedence over togetherness. Don't get me wrong, we love any chance to be alone, but our romantic evenings have to double as Target runs and budget discussions. Time once spent on trying to look, act, and smell our best for each other is now spent working, parenting, or sleeping. We (mostly me) used to work so hard to dress up more and work out more and eat less and clean more and nag less....( and shave more and shower more. Am I right, Moms? ) and just make sure that the other person always saw us at our best. With each kid, keeping this standard become more difficult. That kind of perfect-ish life was exhausting and not realistic and somewhere along the way we (silently) agreed to just stop and be us.

We figured out that trying to create a perfect marriage was impossible because we were imperfect people. I know that Steve doesn't expect perfection (or even satisfactory most days) from me everyday and I don't expect that from him. God has shown us that marriage is about loving and serving each other and upholding the covenant we made to one another way back in the olden days of 2001. Those are the parts of marriage that need to be promoted. The not-so-happy parts. The parts that you don't see in the sweet smiling Facebook pictures.

I realized yesterday that we have finally reached a new level of comfortable Old Love. It came to me while I was showering and noticed a very un-spa-like smell. It was Steve's sweaty cycling clothes hanging in shower with me. I laughed as I thought about how perfectly that sums up the old love of a long marriage. When you get to that place where you shower next to your spouses gym clothes and manage to smile instead of vomit, your marriage has arrived.

Let's promote our Old Love here! If you are reading, I would love to hear from you!

July 2011
I am kind of bummed that Astronaut is no longer a possible career path.


  1. Annah Mary, when I saw you at church today I thought, "I need to go to her blog!" I have been wanting to read it for a while, but like you said, this mothering stuff keeps you busy so I am just now reading a post. I love it! So true about marriage and I love the transparency. We need to be real, and honestly, we need to laugh more (or I do). Thanks for the truth about marriage and humor in Old Love!

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  2. I posted the above. For some reason, it would not publish my name.

  3. Amen sister. On all counts. I have avoided this FB challenge for some of the same reasons. Plus we don't have that many pics of us together. HAHA. I'm sure we do, somewhere. But you are so right. Marriage is HARD work. Posting happy feel good pics on social media is not going to change that. I was so worried that if I didn't participate that people would think we weren't happy or we were having problems or worse, ARE THEY SPLIT UP? You know those FB stalkers (hello, ME) will be looking. But then I thought, I am not trying to show anything off. I'm still happy after 14 years of marriage (and 20+ together). Why are we so lucky? We communicate. We worship together. We have God in our marriage. We still have date nights (and yes, our last one was to eat, Target and Academy, wild I know) but it was still time for us to talk uninterrupted and just enjoy each other. Thanks for this today.

    1. You said it girl! The couple that makes Target runs together, stays together!