For better, for worse

I wanted to post this episode of Momversation and open it up for discussion here because it’s not usual for me to have such a different opinion than that of the other panelists, and in this case it’s not so much of a different opinion than it is a different experience. What’s more difficult, motherhood or marriage? And when I thought about this question it was pretty clear cut for me. I mean, six months into parenthood I checked myself into a mental hospital. That’s a pretty good indication that the software was not compatible with my operating system.

Whereas my marriage has caused its fair share of wrinkles, but it hasn’t ever made me consider checking out of life.

In the original videos that I submitted to this conversation I go into my reasoning a bit more, but the constraints of the Momversation platform sort of make it impossible to include all the footage, and this is perhaps my only complaint about this project. Sometimes a key point or explanation is edited out or sentences are cut in half, and what I originally hoped to get across is compromised. In this instance I wish they had left in the part where I talk about how much easier motherhood has gotten for me, how the instincts I thought would kick in immediately took their damn sweet time and I had no idea what I was doing for about a year. Those instincts finally did settle in, and when I look back at those first few months the memories have the same tone and color as the memory of being dropped into a pool not knowing how to swim.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I really had no experience with babies, whereas before I got married I dated a wide variety of men, some hairy, some bald, many of them gay. I’d lived with men before, had shared my stuff, had compromised my tastes and time to make things work, and so I understood what kind of energy it requires to make a relationship last. And when I started dating Jon I knew that he was the person with whom I could make it work, with whom I wanted to make it work.

This does not mean my marriage is easy by any means, and in the original footage I talk about the many years of therapy we have been in personally and together as a couple. Our therapist has been paid a lot of money to teach us to tell each other, hey, stop treating me this way, you’re not meeting my needs, I feel this way when you act like that. And yes, my nose scrunches up like that often when we have those types of discussions. And the argument usually ends with Jon going OH MY GOD I’M MARRIED TO YOUR GRANNY.

And while motherhood has become so much more natural to me there is still so much uncharted territory ahead, and I find that each age is so different than the one that preceded it that sometimes, although infrequently, it feels like we’re starting from the beginning all over again. Sure, there are similar surprises in marriage, but right now almost eight years into our relationship I feel like what we share is the rock I use to stabilize myself when being jarred by everything else around me.

I’m curious about your experiences. Do you find one is easier than the other? (And since some of us aren’t allowed to marry the ones we love let’s extend the discussion to relationships in general.)