One of my favorite movies is Hope Floats. Sandra Bullock's character, Birdee Pruitt, says, “Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most.” That quote hits so close to home for me since most of my life is about being in the middle.
As we go on 20 years, Mark and I are certainly no longer newlyweds. Technically we’re considered to be in the middle years of our marriage. Those are the years where most of a couple’s time and energy is devoted to raising kids. With four kids ranging in age from 16 to 4, Mark and I are painfully aware of the lack of time available for things like communication, date nights and intimacy. Yep, the honeymoon days are definitely long gone.
And while I don’t think Mark and I are technically considered part of the sandwich generation, it sure feels like it these days. As my parents get older, suddenly their inability to perform certain tasks becomes the responsibility of my sisters and me—and our families.
The stress of life in the middle can put a lot of stress on a marriage. Trust me about this. Maintaining a healthy marriage in the best of circumstances is a lot of work. Trying to do it amidst running kids to practices and parents to doctor’s appointments makes it that much more difficult.
Trying to find time together as a couple seems nearly impossible when you’re both being pulled in different directions. Mark and I have tried hard to stay connected in little ways and work together to head off any potential trouble spots. For instance, neither of us commits to anything without first consulting the other. That goes for the kids, my parents or each other.
But for all its challenges, life in the middle can also be an exciting experience filled with new lessons, new discoveries and new adventures. Traveling that journey with your spouse has the potential to bring the two of you closer together if you work together.