Give up a little.

I’m going to talk a bit about marriage. If you haven’t started rolling your eyes yet, just give me 2 minutes. Hang in there.

My husband and I are entering our 10th year of marriage. It does not get easier. It’s a little like the sand in the bottom of your shoes at the end of a beach day. Persistent and sometimes annoying and mostly, a lovely reminder of that great day at the beach.

And then there’s the changing. No one is ever done changing. As Michelangelo said at age 87, “Ancora imparo. [I am still learning.]”

We were 25 and 32.

We are now 35 and almost 42.

A lot of learning happens. A lot of changing happens. And yet, we’re still here.

The thing about binding yourself in perpetuity to another is really the whole permanence of it. Our generation is not one of sticking. We are into growing and changing. We are into development. We are into our kids; epically into our kids. We are not so much into ourselves. We are not so much into each other. Therefore, we stick like those craft googly eyes to yarn – not very well.

Many of our parents divorced. Hey, we all turned out alright. And, we did. It’s true. We turned to Annie and The Neverending Story and E.T. – the real-life stories of broken homes healed us. We found a way to be resilient. And it worked because our parents were happier apart than they were together. We learned that if you cannot be happy in your own skin, you should never inhabit the skin of another.

And like elephants, we remember.

Marriage is hard. It’s give and take and mostly, it feels like you’re the one doing all the giving. Of course, both parties feel this way. It’s love and unrequited love and both parties take turns feeling the pangs of rejection. It’s the day-to-day with small children and nights when you want to talk, but, then sleep wins. Because sleep always wins.

It’s sex and no sex and not enough sex. The sex, it matters.

And it’s hard. And, it’s wonderful. And, it’s fucking hard.

Then, there are times when you come to a cross-road. It’s not about one thing. It’s about all things. You look at that face you know so well and wonder if you really know it at all. You do a lot of wondering…

The changing is happening every moment. You have very little control over how you change and how you grow. You just do and you expect the people you love to come with you.

Sometimes, they don’t. But, sometimes…they insist upon it.

I’ve only packed a bag once and I meant it.

And yet, we’re still here.

It’s not perfect and it never will be, but, it’s really quite beautiful in its difficulty.

My husband and I had a stand-off last week; a This Is Who I Am vs. I May Not Like Who You Are Becoming. It was intense and there was no give.

And then, there was give. Because someone gives instead of giving up. It’s part of the growing. It’s not all synchronized swimming. It’s bloody knees and stopping to help each other back up.

This is my marriage. It’s ugly and beautiful and hard and ultimately, perfect.

But, it’s never easy.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  1. Amen sister! My husband and I celebrate our 10th in October. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve made it so far. Marriage is so incredibly tough, but so completely worth it at the end of the day. Great post.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. Marriage is ugly and beautiful but it is worth the work that it takes to hold it all together. There is always going to be a time when someone wants to throw in the towel but in the end it doesn’t happen because the good out ways the bad and love is worth staying for.

  3. Yes x 5 million. So beautifully said.

  4. So true. It is about the giving. And the allowing eachother to grow.

  5. The changing is exciting and also terrifying. The giving is exhausting and rewarding. The commitment is comforting and stifling. Marriage is tricky, which is what makes it incredible. Ten was a tough year for us. I hope yours is smoother.

  6. Yes.
    So much to say, but I’m going to just say yes.
    We almost made it to eleven. But then we didn’t.
    I wish more people talked about marriage as honestly as you do. Because we all feel alone and wrong even when awful is actually normal.

    Thanks for this post.

  7. kristen says:

    Love this! Marriage can be extremely hard and painful. But in the good times it’s fabulous! We got married when we were 20 and 22. We still had so much growing to do. November will be 19 years. They haven’t been the easiest years, but they are our years. Some years we kicked ass, some years kicked ours. Here’s to many more anniversaries to all of us!!

  8. As always, poignant and lovely. And true. Very, very true.

  9. Like craft googly eyes to yarn. Yes. And super-gluing those SOBs on is just a temporary facade. Congrats (and best wishes) on 10 years and hopefully many more to come! xo

  10. I love this. You describe the indescribable so well. Marriage, like having children, is impossible to understand or even guess at before you’ve experienced it for yourself. Marriage is turning your romantic partner into a family member, and we can all relate to the complexities of familial relationships. Who do we treat best? Perfect strangers. Who do we take for granted, treat without politeness or gratitude, and show our ugliest selves to? Our family.

  11. I love your honesty and transparency. Something that seems to be so rare when discussing what marriage is really like. “This is my marriage. “It’s ugly and beautiful and hard and ultimately, perfect” describes what my husband and I have to a tee–and I’m not letting go of it. Thanks, Bethany.

  12. How do you be the funniest lady on the Internet and then the wises most poignant one too?
    Love this and love the ‘bloody knees’ of my marriage. Cheers to your 10 years!

  13. MamaJunebugJones says:

    Amen. I remember a day last year when I was wild with anger and throwing grenades and we were in the middle of moving back to the US with a newborn and a toddler and the stress was insane. I was stomping home with the kids and thought he was behind me the whole way. When the kids and I made it up to our hotel room, he was gone. I called him frantically for 15 minutes, certain I had placed the very last straw on his camel back. I bawled. I just knew he had left me. Then, I heard the door open and in he walked as if nothing had happened. When I cried hysterically asking where he’d been, he presented a bottle of wine for us to enjoy on our last night. I explained I thought he had finally left me and he said “I could never leave you for being you. We’re in this fox hole together… now drink up.” Steal. My. Heart. Happy 10th Anniversary to you!!!

  14. 25 years and still keepin’ it real!

  15. Amen, sista. We’re in year 7, and just–Amen. 🙂

  16. Heather says:

    One of the greatest insights my mom left me before she died (after I asked if she was happily married to my dad): “No. But I’m not unhappily married either. Marriage has a lot of ups and downs. It requires work but it is worth it.” She passed away 12 years ago when they were approaching 30 years of marriage. We’re approaching 10 years in October and her words help keep us together.

  17. Okay…this made me laugh, cry and nod all at the same time. Every beautifully written word is spot-on! We just celebrated 23 and I can tell you that you nailed it. Marriage is NOT easy. It is NOT the “and they lived happily ever after” crap that Disney spoon-fed us. But it IS beautiful and messy and ugly and amazing; all wrapped up together. Happy anniversary.

  18. This is so true and as so many others called it, poignant. Perfectly put. Happy 10 years! xo

  19. Jennifer says:

    My husband and are are celebrating our 15th tonight. It has been a roller coaster. Thank you for being “real.” I have questioned our marriage many times because it wasn’t living up to the fairy tale. Thank you for debunking that!

  20. Amazing. So incredibly true you gave me goosebumps.

  21. I’ve been ignoring it, this Summer of discontent. And I thank you for giving me something to hold onto outside my body. You said that to move on as a blogger, I would need to put forth the scary stuff. And this is it right here. I thank you.

  22. Andrea Miller says:

    WOW! You always write what I wish I could say! Thank you. Nice to know that other people feel that way too. Marriage is so hard but so heartwarming too. I truly think the day that made me realize that I would always fight for my marriage is the day my non romantic husband phoned me and said listen and then held the phone up to the truck radio : Blake Shelton’s “God Gave me you” was playing and after listening to it a bit my husband came back on and said this is what I wish I could say to you.

  23. So true: “it feels like you’re the one doing all the giving. Of course, both parties feel this way.”
    Loved this: “And then, there was give. Because someone gives instead of giving up. It’s part of the growing.”
    That’s what’s so good about Marriage.


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