Ugh, February. Beyond compare, it is the worst month of the year for me. Everything just seems harder in February. And for Paul and I, our marriage has been no exception.
I don’t know exactly what it is about the month. Maybe it’s the pushing through the gloomy wintry days like zombies, running back and forth between never-ending extracurricular activities and barely passing each other in the hall, or that feeling of not seeing the sun for months and the return of it being too far away to grasp. On top of that, I have also had huge schedule changes at work throughout the years at the start of February forcing us to find a new normal during, what I feel, is the darkest month of the year.
Yes, Februaries have been hard for us.
And typically, we don’t even see them coming. Jumping from the holidays into January, we find a pattern of just making it through — kind of holding our breath with the way life seems to be until that first burst of spring hits and we can exhale. But come February, we have many times found ourselves suffocating just trying to make it through.
It isn’t until we are so breathless and irritated with each other and our day-to-day interactions (or lack thereof) that we stop and realize that, oh, it’s that negative February pull again.
Every marriage is going to have Februaries. If you are lucky, they are few and far between and do not last an entire month. But, regardless, they will come.
One day, you are filled with joy watching the person you love sleep next to you in bed and then the next day you are throwing elbows to get them to stop snoring — at least long enough for you to fall asleep. Our Februaries have come with tiny annoyances about each other, things that never seemed to bother us before we were cooped up in the dungeon of winter with two restless children who need to go out and play.
Why does he always leave his socks there? Put them in the laundry. Speaking of laundry, why are her clothes always everywhere? How many “options” does one need? Seriously, do you know how to change the toilet paper roll? Am I the only one who can get the kids bathed and ready for bed?
Oh yeah, that’s the next thing about our Februaries — comparing how much I do individually and forgetting what all he does. I mean, in my head, he is not there to defend himself making it a completely one-sided and strong argument on how much I do. I get them ready every morning for school. I handle their clothes, and hair, and bags packed for any sort of activity, and baths and bedtime. Would it kill the man to wash a dish from time to time?
Ah, but in our Februaries, he is having the same argument in his head — he takes and picks up the kids from the sitter every day, packs Maylie’s lunch every day, cooks dinner every day, helps with homework most days and handles before-bed activities like brushing teeth nightly. No, he is not washing a dish — he made dinner.
This is what our Februaries can look like to us. And when that stuff boils too long, it is bound to overflow. Which is why I am convinced that Valentine’s Day falling halfway through the month was not by mistake.
You see, Valentine’s Day — commercial holiday or not — is an opportunity to stop and appreciate one another. Whether it is celebrated with flowers and candy (ours never are) or just a day of seemingly obligatory time to spend together, it always comes right on time reminding us of our team effort and offering a breath of fresh air.
And that’s the thing about marriage: It is going to come with Februaries. They are inevitable. It is up to us to decide that working through those times, relying on to the passion, grace and friendship that got us to February in the first place, outweighs any of the alternate options.
Because marriage is also going to come with Valentine’s Days, those breakthrough moments where we climb out of the dark pits of whatever we were faced with in our February and fall back into the strides of the marriage, love and partnership that built our relationship. It’s that invincible feeling of victory and knowing that we made it through and are stronger because of it.
Oh, I am sure we will have many of our February moments for years to come. But thankfully, that means that we will also have many Valentine’s Days.
I love you, Paul. Happy Valentine’s Day. Now pick up your socks. Ha!
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.