The Heart of the Matter.

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Ahem. My Facebook status from a few weeks ago:

“So sometimes I worry that Cassidy isn’t really listening to me when I talk, so I spout some random bits of nonsense to see if he is. Today it was:
“The Principal said I could bring one of the kittens to Back to School night. I’m going to wear her in a newborn sling.”
“On the bright side, I farted today and it released years’ of tension.”
“Today, Des pooped a baseball shape.”
(for that last one, Des agreed and pointed to his diaper)
And for the record, Cassidy WAS listening and laughed at all of those.”

I had to put that on the record. He WAS listening. He laughed at my ludicrosity. (I just made up that word, apparently) He’s probably almost always listening. And he almost always laughs at my ludicrosity. Not even at me. With me. So I’m not exactly proud of the immature test I gave to see if he was listening, but there is a reason I gave that test. It made me think that somewhere along the line, somewhere in the last six years of marriage or so, I must have felt that I wasn’t being heard.

I may have even felt it a lot. There sure are a lot of feels to feel in marriage, aren’t there?

book review

Guys, marriage is hard.

I don’t think people talk about it enough. Or maybe they do, and not everyone is listening? Not yet? When your days consist of diaper blow-outs and bills and work and resentment and low self-esteem, and it’s a wonder sometimes that anyone makes it work. Yet so many do. It takes that good, magic work that all love things take. As with all work, some people like it and some people don’t. Some people like certain types of work, and some people don’t like any. Sometimes you really like your co-workers, and sometimes you really don’t. Some people have a much better work ethic than other people, it’s safe to say.

Some people have a fantastic sense of humor too.

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Don’t we all want to be noticed more? Or worshipped a tiny bit? Sometimes, we take each other for granted. We don’t write love notes. We forget to show the dizzying love we may still feel. We should still feel. We forget. We glance at other people and wonder. We think about what might have been. Some people do all of those things. Some people do none. I think the average long-term married person gets to those points during the marriage. Maybe once. Maybe twice. Maybe several times.

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When I was reading “Clash of the Couples,” I was in a particularly heavy mood, that is not necessarily the mood I am always in. While this book was certainly lighter than my last two reviews, it still showed the fragility of relationships, and in this case, romantic relationships. The book showed how misunderstandings and distance and obliviousness can spiral swiftly.

I enjoyed every story. I was humored and/or heartened by every single one. I really liked Jenny Hills’ story. I would never dare to choose or call out favorites because these are ALL expertly and thoughtfully written and will mean different things to different people, but her story hit me in the heart big time. It was lovely and ludicrous and true and raw and wonderful. Jenny’s story also showed fantastic character development, and you just wanted to hug her husband by the end. And her!

Kimberly Morand’s story cracked me up. It read like a movie, with great dialogue and cringe-inducing scenes. And every word of it is true. There is a placenta story and a case of “are they identical or fraternal twins” that made me laugh out loud.

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One thing I loved about the stories, even the ones that talked about exes, is that the authors were discussing fights, spats and clashes, but they all spoke with love, respect and honor about their spouses and partners. They are all clearly IN. Are you?

For more info, check out the book info HERE and purchase info HERE.

Sometimes in this ride of marriage, you really do feel like you want to get off the ride. Or that you’re about to fall off!

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Gone are the days in which everything you do or say is an obvious delight. Gone are the days of long love letters, rather than:

“Can you pick up Des’ fluoride pills from Rite Aid on your way home from work?”


And I admit that I miss that. I miss being worshipped. I miss being fully heard. However, so many wonderful things develop in those places – the cracks and the crevices that time wears off of something shiny and new. More solid flowers can grow in those cracks. And they don’t die after a week in a vase, like those dozen roses he had sent to your work when you were first dating. (or a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries our case – they don’t last long either). They come back, season after season, beating after beating, because they are strong and beautiful. These are the roots you set down once – without even realizing how firmly you were planting them down. Stamping them down. Push after shove. Until they were so far gone, you can’t even see them sometimes. Some seasons. But they’re always there and they’re always growing. And that’s marriage.

Well, my friends. I have no idea how all of that came from a book review! I’m on day four of a weird cold virus.

About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer, a mama of two, a Lifestyle Blogger/Social Media Influencer/Brand Ambassador, and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns, the Stigma Fighters Anthology (volume 1), and The HerStories Project: So Glad They Told Me. She is also a proud Community Lead and a regular contributor to the SoFab Food blog, and the Target Made Me Do It blog. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son, dog, cat, and 11 chickens in glorious western Massachusetts.


The Heart of the Matter. — 107 Comments

  1. Marriage is hard, yo.
    We’re in year 15 and have had my bags packed several time πŸ˜‰
    I think the big thing is to know deep inside that you will – and want to – grow old together. And that whatever is happening at the moment, will pass. And that the kids will get older and you will go on dates again and and and.
    And yes, there needs to be more honest talk about it. Thank you. xo

    • That’s beautiful!
      I think there is that inner commitment where you’re not gonna let all of the big and little things tear you apart. I think if you have that, that’s a great start.
      And then of course there’s 1 million other things to get right!

  2. I do the same thing! Tonight I was talking to my husband and I was pretty sure he wasn’t listening. So I told him I was going to walk naked to the mailbox. He stopped and looked at me knowing I had said something weird, but didn’t quite know what I had said. Gotta love those moments! I totally need to pick up a copy of this book!

  3. Oh trust we have those moments here too and I thank god that we both do have pretty good sense of humors, but definitely makes you sit up and think. Also, hope you are feeling better and sending some hugs just in case πŸ˜‰

    • I remember more experienced people telling me that I would want to leave him at certain points in our marriage. And that’s normal! Of course in my 20s, I couldn’t imagine that would ever happen. Not that it ever has in a serious way, though.

  4. I remember seeing that status! I think Sam needs to do this test to me far more than I need to do it to him πŸ˜‰
    Marriage really is a lot of work, and as I’ve learned this past year, even more when you throw a child into the mix. It’s hard sometimes and makes you want to cry or scream or stomp your feet, but it’s so worth it. And having a sense of humor and appreciating fart jokes (which Sa and I both do as well) helps.

    • That’s my number one criteria for marriage! Fart jokes.
      I hope you know how much I enjoyed your story. I really wanted to call them all out, but then I realized it would be a really long review. I think that the old me would’ve acted exactly as you did in your story. The new me might’ve had an anxiety attack! Not cool.

    • I just love your story because I laughed out loud and Scarlet asked me why I laughed out loud, and I got to tell her all about that I was reading a story written by someone she knew in real life! Very cool.

  5. I am on day 10 of a weird cold virus! Do you have terrible laryngitis? I swear I think it’s someone telling me to be quiet and listen for a change! And I love this post. I am still giggling about bringing the kitten to back to school night in a newborn sling. And the picture of your sister and brother in law in the port a potties is great. And yes- marriage is hard. We laugh and miss the ‘courting years’ as we call them, all the time!

    • I don’t have laryngitis but I was tempted to tell my family that I did!
      The courting years are pretty special. I think the years now are too. In much different ways.

  6. Yes, marriage is hard, but sometimes I think about how much harder it would be if I had married the wrong man. Before Ed there was a man I desperately wanted to marry…and oh, it would have been so wrong! Ed and I don’t have roses and chocolate every day, but we do have love every day, which is most important. I know you can say the same about you and Cassidy. <3

  7. See told ya I’d come here today πŸ˜› You were my first read of today’s feed. Lol. I’m not married yet but relationships are hard. I think the little things are important and when you start, it’s easy to think about them because you’re still in the ‘courting’ phase. Once you feel ‘secured’ in your relationship, in that you’re set with one another and have made the choice to stay together, then the little gestures fade in the world of tasks, to-do lists, things to buy, gatherings and events with friends; slowly you just let things slide. Once you get comfortable it’s both good and bad because you get content and contentment can blind you to what the other person needs. Anywhoo – tis Monday and it is Thanksgiving week so excited! All my shopping is done – going to get some platters and such from World Market during my lunch break. It’s the little things that make me happy like picking matching serveware. Lol. Hope you have an outstanding week Tamara! <3 -Iva

    • Glad you came here too!!
      I have not even started anything holiday related. This stupid cold has really knocked me down. You know what I’m doing today? I’m watching Hallmark Christmas movies while eating chocolate. I’ve become a mockery of a mockery.

      • I’ve only started because I have friends coming over and it’s the first Thanksgiving I’m having at our place so it’d be nice to plan ahead! LOL I hate Hallmark their cheesey movies are so addicting – once you start, you can’t stop! I feel so shameful when I’m watching them because they’re so LAME and yet there I am, sitting and watching. It’s sad. LoL πŸ˜›

        • I have historically hated hallmark Christmas movies. For some reason this year, I can watch the lighter ones. I still can’t watch the schmaltzy ones. Wait, aren’t they all?

  8. Marriage is a verb – it’s work, and it’s a conscious decision to make it work. Every. Single. Day.
    It’s exhausting and exhilarating, really.
    Get well soon!

    • I think you nailed it. Especially with exhausting and exhilarating.
      And that conscious decision to make it work. It’s not magic. Well it’s not just magic.

  9. Beautifully put! It is so important to marry someone who is also a great friend. You need to be able to laugh at things like fart jokes. I love your new word…ludicrosity!

  10. Marriage is hard work for sure! Like I said, “Love and marriage. Love and marriage. Goes together like a horse and carriage. (A horse and carriage never provides a completely smooth ride, so hold on!) I loved that status when you posted it, by the way. I have done that to Adam before! Great review for a great book! P.s. That picture from your sister’s wedding is FANTASTICALLY funny!

  11. This was so true! Marriage is very hard. I was going through a lot of these feelings yesterday when my husband decided he had to go into work on the day of our first big feast in our home. I know why he did it and he apologized, but he still had to do what he had to do. When he came home, he couldn’t do anything right. I think, though I understood, I was still sad that he had to leave. I think I go through a lot of these things you mentioned here, but I wouldn’t want to do that with anyone else. He gets me and though sometimes I know he isn’t listening because he’s falling asleep or something else, I think he feels the same way about me and that is enough for us to work on this thing for the rest of our lives. πŸ™‚

    • Oh yeah, you guys are solid. Underneath it all is a deep intuition and most importantly, a desire to work through everything. It is hard, but everything good is hard.

  12. Forgive my long absence from your blog! Things have been twilight zone weird in my neck of the woods. Yesss, marriage is definitely hard. With my oldest daughter now having her own family, I pray that she will endure the tests and trials that will come with relationship. Real love ain’t like they show in all these fluffy movies. Not even close.

    • It’s okay that you’re absent! I’ve been my own hot mess for a while, and now I have the cold to end all colds. I’ve been cursing at it.
      I wish your beautiful daughter well with her new family.

  13. I love your review, Tamara. Marriage is hard. And, well, I’ve got a few things to write about that…someday. The book was great. It’s so fun to read about other people’s experiences and perspectives.

  14. I am so interested in this book! So many of my favorite bloggers are featured πŸ™‚ Honestly I totally agree that marriage is crazy hard–but I think that only other married folks get it. It is SO hard to explain to a single friend how hard it really is, but how amazing it is equally. Marriage has a lot of glitter but there is also a good amount of dark and both parties just have to be willing to push through another day.

    • It is so hard to explain. And when I was engaged, even his own mother told me that there would be times I may regret marrying him or times I want to flee the house. She was right. I never knew it at the time, though.
      I was like, “What? That man hung the moon!”

  15. You described marriage perfectly – and this is what all engaged couples should hear, so that they know it is wonderful work, but it is hard work. I love what you said about wanting to be worshipped. I will hear a particularly sappy country song, and tell my hubby “I wish you loved me like THAT”. To which he always says “I do, I just can’t sing like Kenny Chesney” (or whoever the song is by) – which makes me laugh. I cannot wait to read this book.

  16. Wait, this was a review?! What a beautiful post Tamara.

    Marriage is really hard work but there is so much satisfaction in it. Yes, he may not buy me flowers all the time and write love notes but he pulls back the covers when I come to bed and then covers me up. He surprises me with a bottle of wine (I’ll take wine over flowers ANY day), and he makes a really fabulous Chop Suey.

    Yes there may be arguments and differing perspectives but it makes us better and our lives richer when we can get through them and love one another a little bit more when we come out the other side.

    What a post! And can I just say… because I’m not sure if I ever said it before… you are one GORGEOUS bride.

    • Tonight, Cassidy made his family’s generations old matzoh ball/chicken soup recipe. That’s love.
      And you’re so right that when we get through to the other side, there is even more love.

      Thanks about the wedding! I didn’t feel pretty at all that day. I suppose one day when I’m very old, I might be like, “Oh girl – look at that hair and that waist you had!”

  17. Erma Bombeck once said, “I remember thinking how often we look, but never see…we listen, but never hear…we exist, but never feel. We take our relationships for granted.” I think that happens as marriages evolve, but the key is trying to recover some of that original magic again.

  18. A marriage has to grow as the people in it grow – Matt and I are certainly not the same people we were at 23 and 24 when we got married. Well, we are the same in the ways that matter, but you know what I mean. Feel better, Tamara!

  19. I’m about halfway through the book and agree – it’s laugh out loud funny. Doing my best to fit it in between blogging, reading blogs, and you know…the whole raising three kids thing. This however is a beautiful blog – and I agree with you completely about the things that replace the newness of a relationship as it matures. Beautiful Tamara. I wish I had half your gift.

  20. I told Chris not long ago that I missed the days when I knew I was the most important part of his world. He used to spoil me in every single way. He still does in some ways and I know that it is different because we have kids and way more responsibilities now but I still miss those days a lot lately.
    I think I have this loaded onto my Nook just waiting to be read!!!
    Hope you got some medicine today!!

    • I did get medicine, thank you! Some amazing Sudafed.
      Cassidy made me his very awesome soup, so that has healing powers right there. And is a nice marital thing to do. Better than flowers!

  21. I agree marriage is work and it gets real after you have kids. Before you have kids a lot of times it is just a lot of fun. You can pretty much hang out together all the time and just delight in each other. However, once you have kids it’s not just about your relationship. Now it’s about working together to take care of your kids.

  22. Hah – I do that, too, and feel like that, too. Like he is not listening and in a far away land. But just like Cassidy he does listen and can repeat perfectly what I just said – sigh – why, oh, why?
    No children here, yet, in our 7th year of marriage and we definitely want to grow old with each other. So, we’d better work on listening and talking. With/to.each.other.

    p.s. I hope you’ll shake that darn’ virus or whatever it is soon!

    • Thank you so much! I actually feel remotely human today, and not worse, so there’s that.

      I often think about that. How we will presumably grow old together and the kids won’t be around to distract us, so how will our relationship be?

  23. Marriage is hard! Love the porta potty picture – LOL. John and I will be together 20 years in May and married 15. That’s just crazy to me…I must have a high threshold for pain πŸ™‚

  24. I need to read this book. Thanks so much for the recommendation–I have just added to my Goodreads list (I have a stack of library books to get through first. NERD ALERT!) Anyway, I live for these kinds of stories. The ones were couples don’t gloss over the hard conversations and the unpleasant times. Because life is a mixture of good AND bad, and I think that we are so uncomfortable living in the tough moments. But they are so incredibly important–not only for the strength and longevity of our relationships, but our abilities to cope, to work together, and to come out on the other side.

    Also I love that you test your son to see if he’s paying attention πŸ™‚ Clearly he listens to the important things! LOL!!

    Hope you feel better soon, my sweet. Wishing you all the best for a very happy Thanksgiving. Also love love love these pictures. Sniff. So beautiful πŸ™‚

    • It’s such a great book for you! I know you’re at the pinnacle of adult changes. and I have the same nerd alert, because it ain’t living if I don’t have a stack of half overdue library books in my room.

  25. Beautiful! I knew then that marriage is hard. Never thought it’s really, really this hard though. Whew! I guess we’re in for many surprises as we move along. Kept on reading this book just to remind me I’m not alone. πŸ™‚

    • I freaking love this book! it must be interesting because you married pretty young, right? I guess I did too. I was 27. I guess that’s not that young, but I changed so much since then.

  26. I so remember that post on Facebook and I think Cassidy is amazing! Mine probably wouldn’t have heard a thing I said. πŸ™‚ As for that book I’m actually planning on getting a copy for myself. I’m sure I can relate to a few of the stories in there. Having been married for almost a decade we surely have some stories to tell.

  27. Ah yes, I agree at times, marriage IS hard… but worth it for me. We have been married a long time and the good times far far outweigh the not so good times, but I do miss being worshipped and fully heard as you said, like those first few years. Sounds like this book is a great read. Sorry to hear you are under the weather. Hope you feel better soon!

  28. 1. Hope you’re feeling better. Kids carry such incredible germ combinations that the should open a WHO office that doubles as daycare. They could make incredible breakthroughs.

    2. I’m not even all the way through this book, and I’m the anchor chapter. The writing so far is phenomenal, and Kimberly Moreland’s chapter was stellar. It’s hard to read anything about it at work because the cover has nakedidity. Probably it’s not as bad as me looking up ISIS for a story 73 times.

    3. You, the kitten, and a newborn sling. This needs to happen. You should have done it on the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, because kids are calm and focused especially on this day.

    • I do feel better, thank you! And by that, I mean I can get off the couch. Magical.

      I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t do the sling thing. I guess I just didn’t want scratch marks on my chest. I mean, that day anyway.

  29. I’m not married but I have been in a couple long-term relationships and I think humor is key. It sucks when things get sad but how awesome is it when you can laugh at the little things? It helps ease the tension, I believe. I really want this book, I have heard so many great things about it!


    Ah ha ha ha ah!

  31. I bought the ebook last week, and am somewhere in the middle. With 5 years in my current relationship, a wedding coming next year, and each of us with divorces in our past, each of these stories have touched me so far. Marriage is very hard, and there has to be that desire there to make it work, or it’s all to easy to just walk away. Thank you for sharing this, my friend!

  32. Marriage IS hard! And at least Cassidy was listening. The biggest irritant I have with my husband is that he is a horrible listener unless I MAKE him. Like I have to say “You need to listen right NOW” or else I’ll most likely get a “what’s that?” which makes me want to punch him in the face but well, he’s pretty great when I make him focus so I’ll keep him. I’m pretty sure. I loved the book too and love your review!

    • That’s what I mean. Why should you have to tell him when to listen. It should be all the time! Ah, communication. It’s.. amazing.
      Thanks for reading my weird review, my sweet!

  33. That is the best husband-listening-test ever. You may feel it was immature, but at least it was humorous! Love that Des joined in, too! I always thought that the Husband and I had a very solid relationship, but we’ve had our tough moments too. People learn how to get under each other’s skin over time; and other times it doesn’t even take effort. When you’re that comfortable with someone, they can easily become neglected after the stress of every day life and kids takes over. Marriage takes a lot of hard work and focused commitment. Need to look into this book…thanks for the review!

    • I’m glad you thought it was funny! It totally was entertaining even to me. And Des is always my guy for helping.
      So many tough moments, even in the solid relationships. Doesn’t mean it loses its solidity, though! I should think it really just gains it.

  34. Perhaps it was my negative view on marriage, perhaps it’s because I married my best friend, perhaps it’s because we moved away from all parties and created our own, but marriage has been a beautiful journey. We’ve had our ups and downs, our moments of wanting more, but we’re in it for the long haul.
    In a way the two of us have grown up together, two young 20-somethings creating a life together. We had nay sayers at the wedding, because we were “so” young, but we didn’t let negativity taint us. Again, perhaps the distance from everyone helped.
    I try to write love notes…. I’ve kinda slacked on that πŸ™ I haven’t slacked on the testing πŸ™‚ My favorite test… let’s see if he’ll pick that up, or will I finally have to pick it up for him. Of course, I let him know if he passed or failed, doesn’t every good wife πŸ™‚
    Feel better soon!

  35. marriage is hard work. all good things that are worth having, and worth fighting for, are Hard. because we humans are such a flawed mess, and then we expect another flawed human to accept us with all our flaws and we just set up housekeeping in a big ole faulty wooden box with 4 walls that one day might feel like they are closing in. Maybe that is just me. But, we stay. We DECIDE to stay every day. Every night. Even if he snores so loud you can hear it from the tub with your ear phones in. Because all that bad stuff that life throws at you… it’s that “passing shadow”. But love – it’s that sun shining so bright, because it covers over so much wrong. Someone gives you that – you should stick with them. because that’s golden right there.

  36. I love this post. Your book reviews never feel like reviews, by the way. Marriage/relationships, long term anything- it’s a challenge. I’ve felt everything you said at some point throughout the 9 years I’ve been with my guy. FOR SURE. Echo did a review of this book and I am getting a copy for my stocking this year.

    • Thank you so much! That is what I go for – not seeming like a review, but still being a reviewer. I definitely read these things thoroughly, so I appreciate that people can tell.
      Echo rocks!!

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