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Conversations With Kyle: What We’ve Learned In 7 Years Of Marriage

Eva Amurri Martino discusses what she's learned about marriage in the last seven years

Eva: Ok, So.  This one is all about what we’ve learned in seven years of marriage.

Kyle: Is this going to be a six hour conversation?

Eva:  I hope not.

Kyle: We’ve learned a lot. So yeah, why don’t you start.

Eva: Ummm. Ok, well first of all, I feel like seven years of marriage feels like seventeen years of marriage (both laugh).  I can’t believe it hasn’t even been a decade, it’s wild to me. Suddenly seven years feels like a lot.  And, you know, I’ve written these posts throughout the years on different anniversary milestones– just about how different marriage was than what I expected it to be.  Ummm..in positive and negative ways.  I know I had a really unrealistic view of marriage from all angles.  But I would say the biggest thing I’ve learned is that as a couple you really have to understand on a deep level, and respect, where the other person has been and how they’ve been effected and how they’ve lived their life before meeting you.  I think that’s crucial to understanding that person and being able to succeed in a relationship with that person.  So, what that person’s childhood was like, any triggers that they have– things that make them feel unsafe or things that comfort them– I think that those are all conversations that are really important to have with somebody before you get married.

Kyle:  Mmm hmmm.  And what’s important about relationships, and what makes marriage really challenging, is that two things are happening concurrently: there’s a journey in to understanding yourself and what you’ve learned through environment– what you’ve witnessed subconsciously and consciously and how they’ve effected you and molded your outlook and choices.  Without having a clear understanding of how these things have effected you on a deeper level, you learn to mimic behavior in many ways, and so I think it takes a long time to figure out who you actually are as an individual, and in relationships.  While you’re on THAT path, you’re also trying to understand your dynamic with somebody else– and what they need and who they are.  And what’s tough is sometimes it’s like two violinists sharing the same stand, a chair apart from each other and a beat off of rhythm.  It’s hard to find the rhythm and the harmony.  Sometimes one person is off the beat and sometimes the other person is– and so individual reflection and the journey in to understanding yourself can effect you relationship with the other person in a marriage.  And what I’ve learned is that it’s ok to be off the beat, whether individually or as a couple, but that honesty and communication are the only ways to make it through those difficult times when the music doesn’t sound good, you know?

Eva Amurri Martino discusses what she's learned about marriage in the last seven years

Eva: Yeah, I mean I totally agree with that.  The number one thing for marriage is probably learning how to communicate with one another: honestly, openly, effectively.  And to stay communicating.  Because if you can do that then you can get through anything.  You know, sometimes I wonder if some of our marital stuff over the years is also due to the fact that we got married so young– not only young age wise but also young in our journeys of self discovery.  I wonder if we had had better handles on where we were coming from, who we were, where we were going– that it would have been easier.  I wonder if sometimes it is a little bit more…ummm… stable to get married when you’re a bit older.  I don’t know.

Kyle: Yeah.  I think there are two things that if you were to pinpoint when a relationship goes off track– there are two factors, in my opinion, that are issues of consequence that are very important.  One is this counter intuitive behavior of being someone you don’t feel comfortable being because you think your significant other wants you to be that person…

Eva: Or needs you to be that person…

Kyle: Or needs you to be that person.  And what ends up really turning that in to a toxic situation is when that’s not even what they want.  So you’re being someone that you assume they want but that you don’t like to be and don’t want to be, and they don’t want it either. (laughs) And then the other one is losing yourself in a relationship.  So not being able to carve out a safe and respectful space within the relationship dynamic where you’re allowed to be an individual.  Without hurting someone else, or without distancing yourself from someone else.

Eva: Mmm hmmm.  The hardest part with that is just in the years when you’re raising small children.  There’s little to no space for that.  I think a lot of people struggle with that balance between sense of self and selflessness required of parenthood.

Eva Amurri Martino discusses what she's learned about marriage in the last seven years

Kyle:  Oh yeah, we haven’t even gotten started on adding a third person in to the dynamic…

Eva: You mean when a couple starts having kids?

Kyle: Yeah.

Eva: It’s been really interesting.  And recently, obviously, we’ve been learning how to communicate a lot better.  And we’ve had help with that.  But I really don’t know where our relationship would be if we hadn’t started working on it in that way.

Kyle: Well, I think what happens in a lot of relationships is you reach this plateau– where stagnation leads to frustration.  And you not seeing what you desire and what you love in the other person– but you also don’t try to emit that yourself and be that yourself…and I think what really recharges a relationship is peeling layers back to uncover vulnerability and honesty.  And that can make you, or I’m speaking to myself individually, it can make you kind of fall in love again and see your significant other through a fresh pair of eyes.  As if you’ve caught eyes with them across the bar for the first time.  I’ve felt that jolt a few times, in moments of self discovery and vulnerability that felt dangerous. Or in moments of compassion towards you for things I know weren’t easy to recognize about our dynamic or about yourself individually.  I feel like those things are just as powerful if not more powerful than seeing you succeed, or doing something that is attractive in its beauty and confidence– you know?

Eva: Right. Kind of relating to that…what do you think about this term “The Seven Year Itch”?

Kyle: I’ve never heard that term before.

Eva: You haven’t?!

Kyle: No. Should you tell me about it? (both laugh)

Eva Amurri Martino discusses what she's learned about marriage in the last seven years

Eva: It’s a famous time in marriages– that’s called the seven year each– where at around seven years, people start to get sick of each other and start to be annoyed or crave change.  And my feeling about that is that it has a lot to do with kids. (laughs) I think that in a lot of marriages, that’s around the time that you’re raising small children, and you’re at Capacity and exhausted.  And I think that’s the time that all those things happen that we’ve been talking about– where you really lose sight of yourselves as individuals.  And it can make you end up thinking about what else is out there, like what other life you could be having instead.  Instead of focusing on and fixing what you do have.

Kyle: Well, A few things: one is, like any itch you have, once you scratch it the worse it feels and the worse it gets.  There are so many things, whether in a relationship or not, where something pops in to your head that asks “is this as good as it gets?” It’s kind of the destruction of The Grass Is Always Greener type fallacy.  And one thing I’ve heard, from my buddy who shall remain nameless– and you can sense the professional athlete in this comment– he was talking about marriage, and he’s on his second.  He said “Marriage should be like our contract, you know? When you get done with the four years you should be able to come back to the table and renegotiate!” And I said you better never say that to your wife.  (both laugh)

Eva: I mean. Are you telling me you want to renegotiate? (both laugh)

Kyle: I’m fine with the terms. (laughs) But I think The Seven Year Itch is like anything: it’s an “easy out”.  It’s your head telling you, “this is hard,” and you can take the easy way out.  And the reason I think a lot of marriages fail is because people are predisposed to want to give in to the itch or whatever it is to take the pressure off or take the challenge away so things can be easier. 

Eva:  Yeah.  Well, I’m up for renewing our contract.

Kyle: Alright!  I’ll have my lawyer call yours!

Eva Amurri Martino discusses what she's learned about marriage in the last seven years

Eva Amurri Martino discusses what she's learned about marriage in the last seven years

 

Photographs by Julia Dags.

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10 Comments

  1. Suzie says:

    Happy Anniversary! Doing anything special to celebrate year 7?

    10.29.18Reply
  2. This was so helpful. I was married many years ago and I am not married now. I definitely hope to marry again – and learning about a person’s past, his values, and what makes him who he is and all of the other valuable things you said – which would take too long for me to write here in the comments – really resonated with me! Thank you thank you, so much, for sharing your story. It helped more than you may know. 💞

    10.29.18Reply
  3. Alina Durbaca says:

    Hi Eva,

    Big fan of your blog, love following your family’s life & adventures. I particularly love this series of conversations with Kyle, but I just find the format SO hard to read (all caps and bold). Is there a way to change that to your usual font & layout?

    Keep up the great content, you’re a rock star of a mama:)

    Alina

    10.29.18Reply
  4. Lisa says:

    Beautifully expressed, Kyle. No doubt that you two are in it for the long haul! ♥️

    10.29.18Reply
  5. Jessica Stoller says:

    How long have you been together? My husband and I have been together for 11 years and married 3, and I have to say. Pre-Kids and Post-Kids are TOTALLY different things. I think we had a really solid relationship post-baby, but now we’re really struggling. My recent epiphany is this – pre-kids, you were always able to step away from the stressor & compose yourself. NOTHING was too urgent to do that. Post-kids, sometimes – often – you need to just let the stress wash over you because you can’t step away for 5 minutes. You have to deal with them NOW. They need you NOW.

    The person that you are when you’re unable to step away and compose the neat-and-tidy-emotional-reaction-that-comes-with-perspective… THAT is the real you. And that is who we are only JUST discovering within ourselves.

    It’s a trip!

    Thanks for sharing this – love the kyle conversation series 🙂

    10.29.18Reply
  6. Justina says:

    Thank you for sharing these conversations.
    Two things really struck me here. The first is that it is important to understand where your partner is coming from in terms of the life they have lived. There were some things that my partner and I absolutely could not understand about each other (that were causing tension) until we had a discussion about how drastically different our childhoods were. Once we did, we were able to get to the root of a lot of the things that had been bothering us. The second thing from your discussion that stuck out to me is that scratching an itch makes it worse. I think that is so true and being conscious of that can help get you through times when you are feeling the itch for something different.

    10.29.18Reply
  7. Ana Salinas says:

    Really weird comment – I can’t read post with all caps, pink color, and that kind of font. My head hurts… all other posts are very easy to read. Can you change format?

    10.29.18Reply
  8. Glenda says:

    Happy Anniversary to the both of you and cheers to many, many more. Today is our anniversary of moving in together and then we got married 6 weeks later 12/10. I totally believe that marriage is falling in love with the same person over and over again. As Kyle explained looking over that bar and spotting each other and having that feeling. I always feel the greatest challenge is never surrendering to “easy” but working through it all. Not sweating the small stuff if it’s not going to matter in 5 years. And the grass is only greener if you “water it” as you should work on your relationship. Remembering that no two people are alike and everyone was raised differently, experiences are different and coming together because you want to be together and you love each other. Love this posts Q & A.

    10.29.18Reply
  9. Nora says:

    Really interesting to read, thank you, Eva. But at the same time so hard/exhausting to read because of the capital and bold letters. Have you ever thought about adapting this wonderful format to your usual font style (or a different one that is easier to read)? I would really appreciate that!

    10.30.18Reply
  10. Marin says:

    Dear Eva,

    These conversations are so wonderful and such an original part of a lifestyle blog.

    Is it possible to do this as a watchable interview? It is hard to read with all of the bold and colors and I feel it would be so enjoyable to watch 🙂

    Thank you.

    10.30.18Reply