Not the Anniversary Post You’d Expect

I started pouring my heart out earlier tonight about my marriage. Saturday will mark our 11th wedding anniversary.

My fingers flew over the keyboard, talking about how we make each other laugh, support each other’s dreams, are a parenting team, never end a conversation without saying “I love you,” how I couldn’t imagine my life without him, and on and on.

All of those things are true.

And then I started smashing that backspace key because suddenly, I felt like one of those “smug marrieds” that Bridget Jones complained about. As if with a few stereotypical words of marriage advice, everyone should be able to make their marriage work. But I know that’s not the case.

Especially since it’s not like Hubs and I haven’t had our low points. And I do mean low.

Shortly after the honeymoon phase wore off, we started thinking like emotional little kids: I don’t know if I’m in love any more. You don’t make me happy. I want something else.

And, we almost threw our marriage away to try to chase something that we thought might make us happier.

Thankfully, we wised up before we did anything drastic.

We realized that love is a decision. It’s a choice you have to make over and over again, to continue loving your spouse. To work on your marriage.

love is a decision

That you might not always feel that madly-passionately-in-love feeling all the time.

But, that that’s okay.

As long as you continue to make the decision to be there for each other and to work on it.

That feeling can come back.

Love is a decision. It’s emotion, yes, but we’ve come to realize that’s not just heart, but head, too.

And both of us are fully committed to making this work, making our family work. Sometimes it has taken effort on our part and other times, it seems like the most natural thing in the world.

But knowing we both feel this way makes me not just celebrate our 11 years of marriage but celebrate that we’ll have many more years together.

pour your heart out

Highlights from Last Week’s PYHO

  • Shame and Guilt of Morbid Obesity from Going Crazy, Wanna Go? It breaks my heart to hear about the guilt and judgment Janet feels, when she’s trying to get healthier.
  • Oh My God! Why Did I Just Write That? from Peeling an Orange with a Screwdriver. Sharing the tough stuff online can feel sort of awkward, but it also leads to making a lot of connections with others who can say “me, too, I’m not the only one!”
  • On Being June Cleaver or Not from Stacey’s Mothering Moment: “Stop comparing your downfalls to someone else’s strengths.”

Join in Pour Your Heart Out

pour your heart out Click if you want to find out more about Pour Your Heart Out. Remember, it’s about what you want to pour out: it’s personal, so there isn’t an assigned topic. It’s also about being supportive of others who are sharing: so visit other linkers and be kind with your comments. Linking up? Please visit at least two of the linkers and show them some support in the form of a comment or a share!


  1. says

    Yep 18 years this past year here. This last year has absolutely put us to the test with the wreck and him being injured in it so badly. Realizing he will be home all the time now because of it has taken some getting used to and to say he sometimes gets on my nerves.. Understatment but like you I cannot see my world without him.. we have to have the lows to appreciate the highs..
    Southern Angel recently posted..Sunday Social Link up party with A complete waste of MakeupMy Profile

    • Shell says

      Congrats on 18 years! I bet that has been a big change- sending prayers your way. xo

    • Shell says

      Congrats on 27 years! It makes me so happy to hear of couples who have been married for such a long time.

  2. says

    Happy anniversary to you!  I totally agree with what you said about love being a choice.  It is a choice you have to make every single day for the rest of your lives if you want a marriage to work.  Congrats to the two of you for making that choice.  
    MJ recently posted..I’m so bored.My Profile

    • Shell says

      Sometimes, people need to give up b/c the marriage really isn’t the right situation for them. But I do think there are other times when it could have worked out if both people would have wanted it to.

  3. says

    Happy Anniversary and thank you for sharing the good and bad of marriage. Marriage is not always perfect and it’s okay to not pretend like it is! Everyone has their ups and downs. In the end everything happens for a reason and it looks like you made it through the rough patches. Love always needs nurturing, especially after the honeymoon stage wears off. I’ve been there too!
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    • Shell says

      I get a little annoyed when people act like it’s all romance and ease. That’s just not reality.

  4. says

    I love this. Yes. Love is a decision. It goes beyond the instant emotion, and beyond the lasting emotion. It’s not even a little bit easy.  I just celebrated 11 years 6 months back and our marriage has had some drastic, deep lows.  Thank you for sharing this.

    • Shell says

      Congrats to you! That instant emotion just isn’t something that’s practical to rely on to make a marriage last. I’m glad we’ve made the choice to make this work.

  5. says

    Happy Anniversary and wonderful advice!  It does take work and isn’t always fireworks and excitement, but to be with someone that so fully knows you and who you so completely know, there is something so comfortable and safe and wonderful about.  
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    • Shell says

      My husband is my soft place to land. He knows me so well and there’s such a comfort in that.

  6. says

    Happy anniversary!!! For your marriage and Pour Your Heart Out. My husband and I celebrated our 11th anniversary this past July, and I wholeheartedly agree that love is a decision that must be made over and over again to sustain a relationship long-term.
    Tracie recently posted..So This Is LentMy Profile

    • Shell says

      It really doesn’t feel like work at this point. A little after we first had kids, to be honest, but now- it’s a lot easier. Amazing that you never fight! Hubs and I don’t much either- we disagree on some things, but actual fights haven’t happened in a long time.

  7. says

    I’m kind of glad you decided not to go the “smug married” route. I agree that marriage is a decision you have to make every day and sometimes its really really hard. I wish more people talked about the hard,  the times you wanted to quit. I don’t and I’m sure it’s for the same reason other’s don’t too. But it would be great to not feel like you’re the only one without the “perfect” marriage. 
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    • Shell says

      I started just gushing about my husband, but when I took a step back and read it, it felt like I was saying it was all easy and I didn’t want to pretend that was the truth. I do think it’s good to share that sometimes it’s hard- so that those going through hard times realize it’s possible to get through them.

  8. says

    I agree! Love is a decision. A conscious action that must be repeated everyday inorder for marriages to work. And marriage is tough. I think every marriage has or will have some very low times, but if the couple makes it through the dips then they come out stronger as a coupole that will help them through the next one.
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    • Shell says

      I do feel like that’s what happened to us. We came out of our lowest period so incredibly strong and confident that our marriage was going to last.

  9. says

    We will be celebrating our 11th in a few months too (together for 17 years though), and I can totally relate to this post. We make it work because we want it too. It’s a daily decision, and since neither of us are quitters, we will be in it for the long haul.
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  10. says

    Very true!! I’ve been married almost 8 years and we go through our ups and downs. We waited 5 years to have our daughter and that totally changed things for us too. That was a hard period! I love the quote you used!
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  11. says

    Ugh, this is so true. Sometimes it seems like it would be so easy to just throw in the towel. No one goes into marriage thinking about the tough times, and how people change. I know when I look back over the past 4 and a half years, I can see it in two different ways, depending on how I’m feeling. 4 years of joy. 4 years of heartache. Both are there. Meshing two very different personalities, different histories, different ideas about the world and families and parenting- that isn’t easy. And then add in a whole heap of stress due to whatever- school and a residency, in our case. I can see why people give up. And I’m glad we haven’t.
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    • Shell says

      I can completely see why people give up. But I’m glad we didn’t- it really has been worth it to work through our problems.

  12. says

    Happy Anniversary! My husband and I have definitely gone through the same thing. Marriage is a TON of work, and it seems like more times then not it’s about working on yourself first, to be happy with someone else.
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    • Shell says

      That’s so very true. Being happy with who you are makes it easy to be happy with someone else.

  13. says

    Happy Anniversary!

    You are so right. You have to work at love. It’s not easy. My husband and I have had many ups and downs. During the downs, we both decided to work out the issues. 
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    • Shell says

      I think going through some of the downs and deciding to make things work made our marriage stronger.

    • Shell says

      There’s very little we can do in life that doesn’t take some sort of work, so marriage is no different!

  14. says

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Sometimes exactly what you write is exactly what I think as well. It is a choice. And sometimes it’s not and easy natural choice, sometimes it’s hard. But for me anyway, the more I choose it when it is hard, the easier it gets. (if that even makes sense). It takes a huge amount of work but cliche as it may be, it IS worth it.

    Happy Anniversary! :)
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    • Shell says

      That completely makes sense. I wasn’t thankful for the hard times at the time, but now I am- b/c knowing we got through those gives me so much more confidence that we’ll last.

  15. says

    Oh yes, love is a choice and a commitment beyond all other things. I so get this- and it is so TRUE. And each and every marriage will battle through hardships and breaking points and suffer extreme cases of “get me out of here”… but- BUT, (and of course there are justified circumstances in getting out) if we hold our sacred vows higher than ourselves- we weather the storms that come.

    I am just sad that there are so many people who ARE happily married that don’t feel like they can share in that goodness, for fear of hurting someone else. I hate that.
    Chris Carter recently posted..Dive Deeper- finding deep faith beyond shallow religionMy Profile

    • Shell says

      I think that there’s some sort of bizarre perception out there that you are either wildly happily in love or your marriage is a mess and you’d better get a divorce. When really, everyone has some ups and downs. Thankfully, we are at a point where it’s mostly ups(at least, in our relationship, life has thrown us a few curves with other things- but our marriage is strong).

  16. says

    And btw Shell- I just feel like I need to explain myself! I want so badly to contribute to your link up party!!! I know I am really strapped for time these days, and I won’t link up because I simply can’t follow through on visiting other posts. I don’t think it would be fair to do so, and not give back- how it should be. I hope I can definitely find the time next week for your ANNIVERSARY of PYHO!!!!
    Chris Carter recently posted..Dive Deeper- finding deep faith beyond shallow religionMy Profile

    • Shell says

      I keep telling you- it’s always life before blogging! 😉 I hope you can find time to join in next week. Can’t believe this has been going on for 4 years!

  17. brett says

    yep. it’s a relationship and it needs to have both parties working on it all the time. there IS no magical happily ever after. it’s work. we’re all human and make mistakes. choosing to love your partner is a conscious choice daily.

    • Shell says

      I’m always amazed when I hear people say they think marriage shouldn’t take work. Everything else in my life does(friendships, keeping the house clean, my weight, my job, etc) so it shouldn’t be surprising that marriage takes effort, too.

  18. says

    Happy Anniversary to an authentic couple living marriage the way it really is. The highs and the lows can all be a bit imbalanced some time, but I will say that my husband is on my team and there is nobody I would rather have on it. There are days where I haven’t felt that way but the decision to stick together and continue to be that pillar for each other is something I am proud we are both committed to.
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    • Shell says

      Knowing my husband is in my corner has helped me with so much else in life. It hasn’t been the easiest road, but I’m glad we decided to make things work.

  19. says

    I wish more people were this honest with the work that needs to go into a marriage. In the 12 years we’ve been married, and even when we were still dating, we’ve had our fair share of highs and lows. If you’re both willing to fight through the bad and work together, it makes the highs that much better. Happy anniversary!
    Evonne recently posted..Being a Girl Doesn’t Mean She Can’tMy Profile

    • Shell says

      I think the couples who act like they never have it hard just make it more difficult for couples who are having a rough time- they think they are the only ones and that it’s not possible to push through it.

    • Shell says

      That initial falling in love can be that something that just happens. But maintaining it takes effort!

    • Shell says

      Congrats to your parents- they are amazing!
      When I was writing my first post(the one I deleted), I was thinking of friends like you who have had a harder road of it- and it’s why I wanted to share this instead. Because I know it’s not as simple as following some sort of silly marriage advice to make things work.

  20. says

    We celebrated our 9 year anniversary last week. It’s so true that love is a choice. It’s lots of little decisions to forgive, to believe the best in each other, to encourage even when you don’t feel like it, and to stick it out and fight fair even when that’s the last thing you want to do! Thanks for reminding people that marriages take hard work but that the hard work is worth it!
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    • Shell says

      Oh yes- I totally agree and love this comment! All those little decisions make a marriage work and last.

  21. says

    I love Bridget and I wonder if subconsciously she is part of the reason I don’t talk a lot about my marriage. I had forgotten about “smug marrieds.” I think you are so right, Shell – love is in the head as well as the heart.
    Happy Anniversary!   
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    • Shell says

      I can hear her saying it with her accent! Hubs and I really do have a good marriage. There’s no couple I look to and envy the type of relationship they have b/c I love the one we have. But at the same time, we have had our lows.

  22. says

    I love this post. I am currently engaged, and our honey moon phase wore off about a few months ago, shortly after our 1 year of being together – we spent every day of that year together. We didn’t go one day without seeing each other, so sometimes it feels as if we have been together longer. Last December when he asked me to marry him it was a no brainer, YES, but as we face life and financial struggles and challenges with our children (all from other marriage/relationship) … I start questioning “is this my true happy” and honestly IT IS. We both have the mentality and love for each other to go through anything. At the end of the day, I say yes I love this man and he says the same. Loving someone is easy, but building a life together is challenging, it’s that love that can carry you thru it all!
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  23. says

    Love is also a verb. I like how you called it a decision too. Growing up, we were always taught that love isn’t just something you “feel”….it’s something you “do”. Marriage isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes lots of work and commitment. Most couples, especially the young ones, tend to give up too quickly. Really sticking it out can make you fall in love with someone even more. 
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    • Shell says

      Such a great lesson to teach our kids young. It’s not just some passing feeling. I can honestly say that I love my husband ever so much more now than I did when we first got married(despite how much I believed I loved him then).

  24. says

    I love this. It’s so beautiful, real and so true. Happy anniversary to you guys. 

    And omg, happy PYHO anniversary, too! Woot! I’m so thrilled for you and so glad to have participated for a time or two – or many more. :) Yay!
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    • Shell says

      I think having that attitude of knowing we can’t take each other for granted has helped to keep us strong.

  25. Ashley M says

    You completely hit the nail on the head. This entire article.. everything, describes my husband and I to a T. I can’t say more than that because, you’ve already said it. 

  26. says

    Happy Anniversary!!
    This will be our 11th year also. And we are so so fortunate and blessed that thus far, no major bumps in the road. Aside from adding 3 children, which is rather like setting off a bomb in your marriage – but we managed. You’re so right – it IS a decision. Maybe even times you have to make it Every Day. But you make and you stick.
    I’ve often thought those who said marriage is 50-50 were wrong: it should be both partners giving 100% all the time. I am not sure if that is entirely possible; but I like the sound of it much more than thinking my spouse is only half committed.
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    • Shell says

      Throwing kids into the mix definitely changed things for us! Lots of good, but still- parenting is hard!
      I agree about 50-50… it has to be 100-100. Each person giving their all.

  27. says

    Happy Anniversary! Marriage is not an easy thing– and definitely not for those that like to give up easily. You are going to have your high and lows– and being open and honest about it is a great place to start. Thanks for pouring your heart out!
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    • Shell says

      I don’t see how anyone makes it who has a tendency to give up easily. Marriage is definitely not easy!

    • Shell says

      Congrats on three years! Our third year was our hardest of our marriage. We had one toddler and a newborn, plus lots of work changes and we moved. It was all a perfect storm that brought us to our lowest point. But, you can get through!

  28. says

    This is so incredibly true. The head and the heart. And it is a choice. Because as deep as the love can be, marriage still requires work. Happy anniversary to you!

    • Shell says

      Thankfully, there are times when it feels easy. But the rest of the time- it requires work, just like anything else in life!

  29. says

    Omg, Shell. I love you so much for pouring your heart out and for sharing this :) It really means a lot to be back here today and I’m so very glad I have the chance to catch up on you. 

    I also love that you pointed out that marriage–and relationships in general–are really about the commitment two partners make to one another. I love that say “It’s a choice you have to make over and over again, to continue loving your spouse.” So very true. And I think also important to speak about openly. We always hear about what makes a relationship work but it’s also a matter of figuring out what to do when life gets hard. There will be ugly days and words said in haste, but that decision to commit over and over again is what keeps a couple together through it all :) 

    Hope all is well with you, Shell. XOXO 
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