I’ve read a lot of marriage blog posts and most of them are really good. They talk through specific issues and make friendly suggestions on how to improve. Maybe things such as: go on more dates, communicate more, be on your phone less, have more sex, etc. I always felt encouraged and for a time, we would try to apply some of those techniques but nothing ever seemed sustainable. Life would get in the way and we would fall back into the same cycles.
It wasn’t for lack of good material, however, we had a deeper problem in our marriage. The suggested solutions only tackled the symptoms of our marriage. If you only address the symptoms, you may never resolve the issue.
Beneath the Surface
So what was going on? Being young parents in progressive careers makes for the perfect formula for a high-stress environment. It seemed all the things that were on fire (metaphorically speaking) were prioritizing themselves over and over again. Raising a baby, kids in school/activities, work stress, sleep deprivation, and the overall busyness that accompanies this stage of life. Sound familiar?
Naturally, our marriage was pushed to the wayside with us both believing that it was strong enough to withstand these pressures. Would it?
For those who know us personally, things appeared all and well on the surface and to most extents, they were. It was just the slow, under-the-surface, beneath-our-level-of-consciousness issues that were pulling us further away from each other. How could you fight against something that you weren’t fully aware was there?
Chips on Our Shoulders
One of the things I’ve recently realized is that through each season of high stress and tension, we would enter a more “restful” season. However, when we re-entered each stressful season, we were a little more chipped, damaged, and weathered from the time before. We never took the time to heal those cracks and our marriage was becoming less resilient.
Burnout Is a Real Thing
When I think of the word “burnout”, I think of Shaun T in an insanity workout. It’s the point in the workout where you push your physical limitations as you finish strong. When you’re in the moment, it feels like it’s never going to end and you’re experiencing physical pain and fatigue.
Burnout from an emotional sense is much the same, however, the main difference is that it isn’t as obvious and you can’t simply stop what you’re doing to make it go away. Tommy was reading a book and shared with me a section on burnout and how he felt he was experiencing it. I had to put it into an analogy to help myself understand.
When in burnout, it’s like going to the grocery store and getting a cart with strings stuck on the wheels. It’s functional and you can use it to get the things you need to get, but it’s much harder and takes more energy from you than having a grocery cart without strings in the wheels.
When I would ask him to spend less time on his phone, engage with me/kids more, help clean up more, etc. he could do all these things, but I could tell it was extremely draining for him. We needed to undo the strings.
Over the next several weeks, you will get to hear from each of us and our perspective on what was happening inside our marriage. We don’t claim to be experts or have it figured out. We just invite you to read along with us as we work through issues in our marriage.