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3 Things Only Couples Married A Long Time Will Understand

No doubt you’ll recognize these issues in your own relationship.

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couples, relationships, marriage
Dani Pendergast
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When I stood at the front of the church and said my wedding vows 20 years ago, I had no way of knowing just how much we’d face as a couple. Sure, I knew that the honeymoon would eventually end and that marriage would take patience and work, but I had no idea just how much work it would be when it came to settling in for the long haul.

Marriage sure ain’t easy — and it’s even harder the longer you’ve been married. Not because you don’t love your partner, mind you, but because as with any relationship that stands the test of time, the measures of success become different. Your bar is lower for certain criteria and your patience for your partner’s annoying habits becomes precipitously low around year seven.

And, if you’ve been married a long time, you’ll probably recognize these issues in your own relationship.

Honesty has always been the best policy, but now … you are both just plain brutal.

When my husband and I went through marital struggles a few years ago, we found ourselves sitting on a couch, staring at a marriage therapist. We were good at communicating early in our relationship, but two kids, a mortgage and busy professional lives left us without a lot of time to be kind in our approach to communication.

I’d find myself telling him exactly what I thought of his inability to chew quietly, and he was pretty clear about my inability to keep the mudroom free of my shoes. Of course, we had much deeper issues, but when you’ve been married for a long time you don’t stand on ceremony when it comes to just how much it pisses you off that he doesn’t put his dishes in the dishwasher.

You realize the kids will actually leave someday and you probably should find a common hobby in order to stay married.

When my husband and I envision retirement, we see two different scenarios: I see us jet-setting all over the world and he sees himself tinkering on a classic car in our garage for infinity. Turns out, over the years, we’ve both envisioned what life after kids would look like; yet, neither one of us thought to mention our vision to the other. And that will make staying married pretty tricky if we don’t figure out how to find shared interests in our retirement years.

Thankfully, because we both recognize that we have vastly different plans and ideas about the years after child-rearing, we’ve started to have conversations about our shared interests. These days, we are making an effort to spend time doing similar activities in an effort to bolster our relationship later. (I’m not spending my retirement years holding a drip pan in a greasy garage, that’s for sure.)

Sex isn’t quite as frequent, but it’s not because you’ve lost interest (mostly).

Just like every young couple, we had our fair share of wild sex before the kids came along. And, though we’ve maintained a healthy sex life over our 20-year union, I’d be lying if I said we were bumping uglies on the daily. Far from it. But, I blame the sex slowdown on the fact that getting old forces one of us (me) to vacate our bed in the middle of the night due to snoring, jumpy legs or any variety of his “over 40” ailments that keeps me awake at night. My husband’s legs twitch incessantly throughout the night and, frankly, he’s lucky I haven’t smothered him in his sleep because of it. And it’s hard to feel horny when you are plotting your partner’s demise because his snoring has you staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. — amirite, ladies?

Sure, my husband gives me the bedroom eyes more often than not, but these days when I’m stuffed up and half drunk on Nyquil, he’s more than happy to offer a hard pass on what I’m offering. So, yes, sex slows down after you’ve been married for a long time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as hot. Good things come to those who wait, you know.

If I’ve learned anything from being married for 20 years, it’s that no marriage is perfect.

Every marriage has bumps in the road, and sometimes marriages even have seismic shifts that cause both partners to wonder what in the actual hell they were thinking when they agreed to spend all of eternity with a middle-of-the-night mouth breather. The beauty of being married long term, though, is that your partner has seen all of your flaws and still chooses you every day. And that’s pretty damned great. Well, except for the snoring.