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Curly Nikki

An Unvarnished Look Inside A Real Marriage

By January 27th, 202148 Comments

An Unvarnished Look Inside A Real Marriage

by Rene Syler of Good Enough Mother

This week is a big one for us because after 18 years of marriage, we are still a team. Like most teams, there were some wins and some losses, a bit of fighting among the players, a few bumps, bruises and disagreements over which was the best way to move the ball down the field. We got banged up a lot this year; there were good times, some bad and a handful of really ugly, that are even tough to talk about, frankly.

THE GOOD: We’re still standing. I start here because there were a lot of things that could have easily brought us to our knees; it was bad enough they almost brought us to the breaking point. This 18th year, was probably more difficult than the previous 17 combined. But we have so much for which to be thankful. When I open the refrigerator or jump in the car, pull up a warm blanket or sleep in our soft bed, I am reminded of the good things. I know I complain about it, but I even secretly love the road trips we take as a family, the forced family fun outings, and the spirited discussion over the dinner table; I’m grateful for the memories we are creating for Casey and Cole.

An Unvarnished Look Inside A Real Marriage

THE BAD: I’m ashamed to admit but sometimes it’s hard to be thankful in the everyday because the everyday can be so difficult. Rushing in the morning or fatigued at night, a careless word said in clipped tone can be the spark for an argument that ends with hurt feelings. Add a couple of moody teens to the mix and what used to be real communication becomes perfunctory. You look up and realize you haven’t nurtured your relationship the way you promised you would, all those years ago and you’ve turned the lights out far too many times with jaw clenched too tightly to squeak out, “I love you” even though, under the hurt, that is what’s in your heart. That was us this year. A lot unfortunately.

THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY: This was the year I thought I was leaving. Really. Why? Because I felt like I was corroding on the inside. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize that woman, the one who looked worn out, frowned more than she smiled, who worked all the time and didn’t see much progress. And I felt us drifting apart. I was ready to run from this life though I wasn’t sure where I would go. Instead, I settled for a few trips with friends where I had a chance to rediscover the carefree me, the fun, flirty one who wasn’t being pulled in 30 directions, desperately searching for time for herself.

Dalliance. Infidelity. Affair. At our nadir I wondered if that thing I find repulsive, I might actually do. When you’re angry and hurting, you don’t think clearly and clearly, I was not. I did think about it though; it seemed like the shot of excitement I craved. At the end of the day, however, I didn’t do it, the chance for irreparable pain for all involved was just too great to risk. But I saw firsthand how relationships can break down, opening a fissure just big enough for someone else to step in to fill that void.

You know what I learned in all that? That you really love someone when you hurt more for him or her than they do for themselves, when you want them to succeed and are ready to inflict great pain on anyone who hurts them. I’ve felt that part of me heat up when I see people mistreating you and I see it in you when you become fiercely protective of me. It makes me smile. It makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like, no matter what, we’re gonna be okay.

But don’t you see? That’s what team members do. They squabble in the locker room but when the players are on the field, there is one goal, one objective with everyone moving in the same direction. That’s what we do, that’s who we are.

Could I have done things differently? Absolutely. Many times my temper got in the way of real communication. Could you have done better? Yes, of course. We’re not a perfect pair; I guess that’s what makes it, and us, interesting. And just like last year, I go into this next one hoping, praying, INTENDING to be at this place again next year.

Buff, thank you for leading this family, for showing me that even in tough times, we keep going. Thank you for supporting me, for your wisdom, your chivalry and for loving the perfectly imperfect me. While we have our ups and downs, disagreements over kids and money, I can’t imagine having anyone else in my corner.

An Unvarnished Look Inside A Real Marriage



  • Anonymous says:

    One of the greatest lessons that I have learnt from our 4years of marriage, 2 of which we have been seperated is that both parties have to be on the same page. If their is disconnect fix it before you walk down the isle. Your post was extremely beautiful. Despite hurt and frustration you both work things out. A marriage is a union of heart, soul, body and mind. If both parties do not realize and commit to this then there will not be much to hold unto when the rough times come. God bless you both on your journey together, it gives me hope for love, REAL LOVE.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is AWESOME!!! I just celebrated my 1 year anniversary yesterday and felt like this was like, the hardest year…But I also know I wouldnt change it for the world. Thank you for encouraging yet preparing me for whats to come. I will absolutely share with my husband..

  • Bekay says:

    wow hit every nail on every head…..15 years but we still standing, pushin along… thanks

  • Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Rene and all of you. Marriage ain't no joke, but the Creator intended it for our safety and growth.

    I married my hubs when I was 23 and he was 31. There were some awful times, I tell you no lie. I realize that I felt like I was the only one hurting, but I later saw that he hurt too. How can you get the ball down the field when both team members are right and wrong at the same time?

    I know that I am committed to him, and would fight anyone who tried to do him wrong. I know he feels the same for me.

    If I could DO ONE THING OVER, I would not have let his physical abuse be tolerated. No one has a right to put their hands on anyone else. I wish I had called the police or the MPs or something, anything other than keeping it quiet and pretending that everything was hunky-dory. I was like that fool standing outside in a thunderstorm, "yeah it's raining bad now, but I know it's gonna stop soon"

    Those wounds are hard to heal, and though there are no physical scars, the memories are hard to put aside. We may forgive, but do we really forgive if we can't forget?

    Anywhoo, that's my two cents worth. This June 2012, we will have our 27th anniversary. The only elebration will be that we are still here watching over each other. It should've been better.


  • Migdalia says:

    WOW – congratulations on your anniversary! Your written words are thoughts in my head. I read this and in a nut shell it is a reflection of how I have been feeling for a while now. Thank you for sharing, you have helped me see that my life is not screwed up, it is simply life with the man I love. There is no perfect (which I knew), but yearned for. I will be happy with what has been placed before me and continue to grow with it. Thank you again for sharing….

  • Anonymous says:

    wow i connected so much with this. i definitely am going to share this with my boyfriend. we have definitely had hard times and i know we want to make it but its gotta start somewhere

  • LaNeshe says:

    This post is all kinds of wonderful.

  • Erica S says:

    SUCH a beautiful post! Happy Anniversary to the both of them.

  • Barbara Naturally Speaking says:

    Happy Anniversary Rene!!! Congratulations on being committed to the ups and downs of relationships. I'm grateful to God for 15 years of marriage. Family is so important and marriage is work. It's full of love, compromise, and time management around daily schedules and kids schedules and needs. My pastor has been teaching on marriage for the past month and has been reminding the congregation of the importance of marriage and family and it's effect on society. One things for sure, I'm grateful for family support to allow a weekend or week getaway for just me and the hubby without any other responsibilities on occasion during the year. It helps us to just focus on "us" when extra time is needed together. Again Happy Anniversary and may God continue to bless your union!

  • curlychefrobin says:

    I didn't read the comments and I'm sure I'm echoing someone else's remarks but I say thank you! Thank you for being honest, open and transparent. I am still single but I do pray to be married one day and I pray that I can be as transparent as you. I don't expect marriage to be perfect but I expect to work and love. Thank you for the encouragement. It truly blessed my soul.

  • Rene says:

    Thanks everyone! To the ladies who are struggling right now, I would say hang in there. Of course that's easier said than done. Take some time, take a vacation (ALONE), see a counselor (alone or as a couple) and keep your eyes on the prize. Don't expect that the relationship will stay the same. It's more like an accordian; sometimes you're close, sometimes you're far apart. And please don't think that the sex is gonna be smokin' hot all the time.. OKAY? This is real life and real life and real marriage is real tough.. Look beyond the initial problems and remember this too shall pass.. 🙂 HUGS to you all!

  • naturalchic09 says:

    Wow, this was amazing to read. I have been married for 3 years, and this was something my husband and I were grateful to have came upon. Thank you for blessing us with this knowledge, and congratulations on 18 wonderful years of marriage 🙂

  • Jada07 says:

    That was awesome! I am celebrating 8 years at the end of February and it truly is something that you have to work at everyday but I wouldn't change it for the world!

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, that's really beautiful!!! I'm going on 8 years of marriage and really appreciate your honesty. In the beginning everyone always says how marriage is such hard work but you don't realize it until you're actually in it!!! Happy Anniversary!!!!

  • Tiffany B. says:

    In the world of marriage-quitters and divorce parties, this is definitely refreshing.

  • Tiffany B. says:

    In the world of marriage-quitters and divorce parties, this is definitely refreshing.

  • J says:

    Happy Anniversary! Thank you so much for this post! Marriage is hard and as I type I'm considering leaving because it's so much more easier to give up. All of the distractions in this World don't make Our Marriages any easier! Thank you for your candidness….I really needed to hear this.

  • Anonymous says:

    Happy Anniversary! I truly enjoyed this post. This is what the world needs to read about – The real ups and downs and how you CAN get throught it you don't have to give up. This is a real testimony of love and commitment. My husband and I are celebrating our 8th year of marriage and it hasn't been easy with kids and elderly parents. Our marriage is being tested right now but I am commited, I have faith and I believe things will get better like they always do. Hmm, no time to turn around now. I am in it to win it! Be blessed!

  • Anonymous says:

    I've been married for only 5 years and have recently started thinking that we won't make it. But at the same time I want it to work. I don't want to be single and I love my husband, but it feels like he just doesn't understand my needs. He grew up with 5 brothers and a father that cheated on his mother. He's told me several times that he just doesn't know how to treat me. I'm praying that we make it and that I won't just give up.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow that was beautiful! It bought tears to my eyes because I know the feeling!

  • Anonymous says:

    I could read these comments all day! But thank you so much for your transparency and brutal honesty. I've only been married for 2 years and did leave. But praise be unto God, I went back! Marriage is the HARDEST thing I've ever done.

    Would love to see more commentaries like this on the real struggles of marriage. Perhaps some of us who know what it means to struggle and come out on the other side should submit our stories?

    Either way, it's a beautiful when one chooses to "bear all" at the risk of their own reputation and image for the sake and hope of helping others. Thank you again. This gives me hope to keep persevering even during the hardest times 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow! That was great! Makes me long for a relationship. Sigh…

  • Asia says:

    An inspirational story! A friend once told me, "love is work, but it's not this much work!" And I almost listened to her, but almost 6 years later, my boyfriend and I are stronger than ever. Sure, there are still very difficult times, but it's stories like these that continue to remind me nothing worth it ever comes easy. Thanks for the post!

  • PinkGirlFluff says:

    Thank you for sharing. That was a breath of fresh air. Happy Anniversary and prayers for many more to come!

  • ShoeHOTLINE says:

    Congrats on 18 years of marriage that's truly an accomplishment. Your honesty in this story reminds us that nothing is perfect, we all make mistakes, and things we deem important are truly worth fighting for.

  • SYM says:

    Thank you for sharing. This week my husband and I will be celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary. There hasn’t been any infidelity but the past 5 years have been worse than I could have ever imagined (we're in the restoration phase even now). But we've decided to fight for our marriage and our family. And although sometimes I don't all the way know what that means, I am very encouraged by your story. It helps me to know that just being committed and willing to fight is good enough for now. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

  • Whisper29 says:

    I loved this…we are moving into year 3 and trust me it has mot been easy but each day is a lesson you just have to see it as such….thank you for not sugar coating it…Congrats on 18 years you two are beautiful

  • Anonymous says:

    Beautiful! I shared this post with my hubby:-)


  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, isn't this timely? Just last night your photo was one of three at the bottom of a post, prompting me to think that you were too busy for the CN crowd. Lol. Anyway, your words are both heartfelt and encouraging. I'm not married as yet (41 – one day), but I am reminded of the authentic – for want of a better term – examples of marriage to which I have been exposed. I suppose this is for better or for worse.

    Happy anniversary. BTW one of my aunts will be celebrating 47 years this year, so um you have some catching up to do!


  • Anonymous says:

    I love this and thank you for sharing. I know this must have been healing for you to get it out in words and then the big one for all of us to read, that takes a lot of courage and introspection to get it just right and you got it just right. I'm rooting for you all and all marriages we need to hear about this not just the smiles but the real work. Again, thank you and God Bless you and yours.

  • curlyblestpearl says:

    thank you so much for that!!!

  • Rene says:

    Right Sophie! I think people would have more success if they understood love is a verb.. not a noun :). Also that while you may not LIKE the person very much at times, you still have a deep, abiding love for them.

  • Sophie says:

    Wow, the honesty here is amazing! Stories like this actually make me believe in true love more than mushy things, because when people say they felt low, and stayed with it because they knew that was the right thing to do, worked to remember why their family needs to stay together, and then come up on the other side more grateful than ever that is love at work. Happy anniversary from me too 🙂

  • Rene says:

    WOW, thanks ladies.. 18 years.. whew.. and only half that time did I now want to strangle him in his sleep. KIDDING! (not really). No but for real, he's a good man and this by FAR, has been the hardest thing I've ever done! But it's worth it.. without question. The point is the real version is very different from the Hollywood one.. 🙂 Thanks for all the well wishes!

  • Rogernelle says:

    Love the candor. Bottom line, we have to constantly work on ourselves and all of our relationships.They do not run on cruise control.

  • Anonymous says:

    Happy Anniversary!

  • Anonymous says:

    Absolutely Beautiful! Congratulations!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow there are tears in my eyes. Happy tears!!!!! The both of you are truly an inspiration. I got married at 23 and have been married for 3 years. There have been many up and downs already but hearing stories like this helps me keep hope alive and reassures me that it is completely normal. Thank you for your honesty and wisdom. Happy Anniversary!!!!!

  • ATWC says:

    absolutely beautiful and inspiring

  • Anonymous says:

    Aw, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY and I totally agree with your article. I've been married coming up 6 yrs but then again I got re-married at 46!

  • Ashley_Nichole says:

    This was beautiful and brutally honest read and I thank you for sharing your story.

  • janubie says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. As 1/2 of a very young couple considering marriage, this was truly inspirational.

  • Pecancurls says:

    Rene, you expressed your feelings beautifully. Thank you for sharing. Happy Anniversary to you and Buff. May you have many more wonderful years together as you continue to grow.

  • Anonymous says:

    That was so well written and I love the before and now pictures. You guys are a beautiful couples and thank you for being so considerate to share your life with us…

  • Davina916 says:

    Happy Anniversary! It'll be 17 years this September for my Husband and I. Continued Happiness! Davina

  • Anonymous says:

    I am newly engaged and needed this reminder of the ups and downs of all relationships. Through it all, we must remember that marriage is a team sport requiring commitment from both team members. Thank you for sharing and keeping it real! Congratulations and many more successful years of marriage to you & Buff!

  • Rene says:

    Thank you so much! I wrote a similar piece last year.. and I guess my goal is for people to see the W.O.R.K that's involved. This ain't no 72-day marriage.. We're in it to win it..
    Good luck and blessings to you too!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I love this! Congratulations to you and your husband for realizing that when the going gets tough, the tough doesn't get going. I was faced with a similar situation last year, but I was "your husband" in the battle. I found an AWESOME preached word on FB courtesy of a friend of mine. I believe that it was divine intervention. The title was Resolving Conflict in Your Marriage, by Pastor Alfred Watts @ Conerstone Christian Center.

    My husband and I are entering our 13th year of marriage. The feelings that he had were real. He felt lost and unappreciated. But what he didn't realize was that I felt the same way, and I had no clue that he felt that way. But I let him know that this was not a reason to give up. Things were shaken up a bit, feelings were torn down, but rebuilt even stronger!

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