Meg Ryan Ruins Marriages

by Janelle Hanchett


There’s that line from When Harry Met Sally: “You look like a normal person, but actually, you are the angel of death.”

We should rewrite that about Meg: “You look like the epitome of marital felicity, but actually, you are the destroyer of marriages.”

Oh come on. I know Meg Ryan doesn’t write the scripts for those romantic comedies. Duh. I realize there’s a good chance she thinks that stuff is inane drivel, but you have to admit, Ms. Ryan and her perky blonde curls, the unbelievably heartfelt love stories she tells, the “true love,” the best friendship, the soul mate stuff…she’s like the quintessential depiction of “all that a marriage should be.”

Or, as I like to call it “The Shit that Ruins Marriages.”

Let me explain: We watch movies like that from the time we’re young and it gives us ideas. Expectations. Beliefs.

And then we meet that special someone and we’re all “OMG I’ve found my soul mate, just like in the movies!”

And we’re just SURE he’s the one and the love story is coming true and OMG it’s all so good.

But then we get married, and one or two or three years later we’re like “Who is this douchebag and why is he in my house?”

And every day feels like work and work and MORE WORK. You hate your husband and he pretty much hates you.

There’s no romance. There’s only confusion and miscommunication and yelling and silence. There are tears and reflection of the “old days” when you were new to the relationship and actually liked each other. And you’re sure you’ve made a tragic mistake. Something’s happened to your marriage; the love has died. The friendship has flickered. Something is terribly wrong.

And all you can do when nobody’s around is think: But it’s not supposed to be like this! Marriage is supposed to be fulfilling! It’s supposed to be fun and interesting and enlightening! We’re supposed to laugh and flirt and have sex on the kitchen floor. Witty banter, coy smiles, dancing!

No, that’s not it. And since nobody else seems to be saying it, I guess I’ll take the plunge and just throw this out: “Marriage is the hardest fucking work in the world and the only thing that makes it last is bulldog-like tenacity and full acceptance of the fact that your partner is not supposed to give your life meaning.”

I can’t believe I just said that out loud.

But it’s true.

I’m no authority on marriage. OBVIOUSLY.

But sometimes, my friends get married. Then, about a year later, I get a phone call or fifty, generally announcing something along the lines of “I made a mistake. I hate being married. Screw this shit.”

And I’m like, “Yes, well. Welcome to the club.”

Them: “This is nothing like what I expected.”

Me: “Yeah. I know.”

Them: “I’m not fulfilled. This is totally not fulfilling. In fact, I hate the motherfucker.”

Me: “Yeah. I know.”

Them: “How did you and Mac make it so long?”

Me: “We didn’t divorce.”

And then there’s a weird silence while they try to think of a friend to call who’s actually helpful.

Having gotten married too young on a cold December day with a baby in a sling across my body, under a tree in front of a courthouse of a hideous town, dressed in all black, I started my marriage in a highly unromantic way.

We were insanely in love when we first met. You can read about it here. But after that, for a variety of reasons (mostly involving immaturity and Captain Morgan), we spent years and years doing everything in our power to obliterate our little love story. We often loathed one another.

Like seriously hated each other. We separated a couple times, but always came back together. I just never left for good. Why?

You want the truth?

Because I couldn’t stomach the thought of another woman being around my children.

Yeah, I know. It’s profound. Super romantic. Real Sleepless in Seattle shit.

But it’s the truth. I’m telling you this so you understand that THAT is how little “love” I felt. I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t feel it. All I knew is that I didn’t want a broken family. So I held on and held on and so did he and I’ll be damned if eleven years later, we’re still here, and we’re doing alright.

Most of the time. The rest of the time it’s yelling and screaming and wishing I could whack him with blunt objects. But that’s rare these days. Much to my astonishment, it’s pretty rare. And I’ll even say, we’re happy.

But nobody talks about the price you have to pay to get that “happy.” The longed-for “happy marriage.” Nobody talks about the screaming and the agony and the silent nights – after night, after night, of the same. The cruel insults and utter dismissal. The depression. The counseling. The soul-crushing inability to connect with a person you used to feel inextricably connected to.

The moment you realize “Whatever. Fuck it. I guess this is as good as it gets.”

And you surrender.

Because there’s nowhere  else to go and the thought of starting over with a NEW MAN is about as appealing as stabbing yourself in the eye with a razor blade, so you just give up. You “resign” yourself, even though you swore you’d never do such a thing…I mean how SAD! How pathetic!

You’ve sold out. It’s over. You’ve never been so down.

And in that moment of total desperation, in the deepest sorrow you’ve ever felt, the insane thought enters your mind… “Maybe marriage isn’t supposed to ‘fulfill’ me.”

Maybe I’m meant to live my life fully and completely and let him live his, and independently we build this thing together, but separately, and I let him be and he lets me be, because the “change each other” plan isn’t working, and I can’t live with him and I can’t live without him.

Maybe those movies were wrong, you think to yourself. Maybe Meg fucking Ryan lied.

Maybe I had it all wrong.

And with your heart in your gut and the surety your life is over, you stop fighting and accept the douchebag for who he is, and you make peace with the fact that he’ll never fully meet your expectations, he’ll never be your perfect “soul mate,” the one who makes your life whole and full and meaningful like the italicized poetry in those Hallmark cards.

[Alright maybe some people have Hallmark marriages from day one. Yeah, well, some people also experience “orgasms” during childbirth. The only thing to do with those people is assume they’re fucking lying and move on.]

For the rest of us, staying married often feels like stepping into an abyss and falling, forever, into the unknown.

Until two or three or four years go by, and one day you’re sitting on the couch with that same man and you break into laughter about something only you two understand, or you tell a friend about 10 years ago, when you first met, or you see him sleeping with your son curled against his chest, and in a flash you realize you’re desperately, terribly in love. That something has happened when you weren’t looking, that some new man stands before you and you hold him in respect with all your heart and there’s admiration and true, lasting friendship. He’s there, still, through history and hell and somehow, a life built itself while you were busy arguing, tearing each other apart, sure this couldn’t possibly be life.

And like war survivors you think back and know you’ve got each other only, a dark crazy history, and a family so gorgeous it makes your head spin.

My god, you think, I’ve got a goddamned love story.

And with everything you’ve got you want to thank your younger self and the universe for not giving up, for staying there, for this, even though you never knew it possible, to have this, with the man you were sure you “didn’t love anymore.”

You sit back, watching your friends get married, still a little amazed they look at you and him as a picture of a “happy marriage.” But mostly you can’t believe you really are happy, usually, and in love, mostly, and okay with all of it, the way it’s turned out, in the big picture, the only picture that really matters.

A Meg Ryan love story.

Fused perfectly with Apocalypse Now.

In the greatest love story ever told.

Or this, which is good enough for me.







  • Stephanie

    I hate to say this, too, but I married someone SO different, I think it’s actually what makes our marriage work ‘so well’. My first love was a male version of me, and THAT didn’t work out at all. My advice? Find someone so different that it takes you years to actually start to recognize, appreciate, and understand the nuances. But remember, no matter who he is, he will ALWAYS piss on the floor, never put things back where he found them, and snore. If you can get past those things, you’re doing okay.

    • renegademama

      Exactly! He remains annoying DESPITE my brilliant direction. It’s so weird.

      • Celestiel

        Oh, I Love you.

  • MNHockeyMama

    Thank you. You said it perfectly. I did the marry young, go to college, have kids, get divorced young thing. It sucked butt. I am now with husband #2 and have 2 kids with him, too (for a total of 4) and letting my older kids go to their dad’s and have someone else taking care of them was harder than crap. My ex and I get along better now than we did when we were married – it’s amazing what 13 years and 2000 miles will do. However, with my husband I totally get what you’re saying.
    You’re right: Meg Ryan does ruin marriages. Especially with City of Angels. Or French Kiss – I used to LOVE that movie. No wonder why I ended up divorced…

  • Brandon

    Courtship is the Meg Ryan movie. You’ll notice that none of those movies show what happens after the “Happily ever after” ending. Marriage can be more Revolutionary Road with the screaming and fighting and the “I sacrificed my dreams for this.” But it’s really all about expectations. I didn’t expect every day to be a romantic whirlwind because sometimes you just have to come home after a long day at work and veg or clean up the house or pay bills. And there is literally nothing romantic about combining your assets and paying your utilities bills. But really I just expect to have a friend that has my back and gets me and I get her and support her. It ain’t romantic, but it’s honest (not like that lying bitch Meg Ryan).

    • renegademama

      Erin got a good one.

      You’re a good one.

      I like you.

      Let’s hang out again. What the fuck. The “I sacrificed my dreams for this” gave me a gut-wrenching laugh.


  • Heather

    This is it!! EXACTLY!! I have been with the same dude since I was 14 yrs. old. I just turned 40 last week. Somewhere in the 80’s we hooked up, and we are still hanging out…with 4 kids around. I would love to share this post I wrote a few weeks back. It sounds like I am seriously bitching about my husband…and well, I am…but ultimately it is just as you said, once we realize that it is not anyone else’s job to fulfill us and instead fulfill ourselves, then we can come together equally. And just enjoy hanging out together….most of the time….I would LOVE for you to check out my post…Here it is –

    • Tupla

      I can’t believe you wrote it today, precisely when I needed so much to hear it! I’ve read it three times, and I’m gonna bookmark it because I’m sure there will be many other days in the future when I need a reminder that real marriages are nothing like Meg Ryan’s movies 🙂 I’m absolutely loving your blog. So happy I found it 🙂

      • renegademama

        Thank you. Excited to check out your blog.

    • renegademama

      14 years old? HOLY SHIT! I’m impressed. On my way to read the post.

  • MumofOne

    Have you been looking through our window?

    • renegademama

      well, living in the attic actually, but let’s not get caught up in details.

  • Maureen


  • Laura

    I don’t think all the books I grew up reading helped, either. It’s like, couples go through conflict in books and movies, but somehow it all magically works out in the end. Anne of Green Gables, romantic chick flicks, and even Reality Bites: I’m looking at you. But real conflict really doesn’t usually work out, does it? You just figure out if you can live through it or not.

  • AB

    This is both hilarious and beautiful! I see women on various forums and mom blogs who gush over how, years and years into their marriage, they’re still head over heels for their husband, still think he’s the hottest thing on the planet, still get butterflies when he walks in the room. Sometimes when I read that I feel so gutted and envious and think, “why don’t I have that? Did I marry the wrong man? Am I missing out on a lifetime of bliss and romance? Why can’t I look at my husband and immediately want to jump his bones then and there?” So it’s nice to remember that no, I’m not broken, and neither is my marriage. Besides, we’ve built up such a collection of inside jokes! I can’t start again!

    • renegademama

      YES! Exactly! What you said about the forums. that’s me and romantic movies. if i ever watched romantic movies any more. or any movie for that matter.

      that feeling…”everybody has it but me…”

      fuck it! lies, all lies!

  • Anna

    How the fuck is it, that you always manage to say exactly what I need to hear? It magnificent and terrifying all at the same time…

    • renegademama


      same wavelength, from wherever we are…

  • Mac

    This is just like my life story only replace husband with wife.

  • beth

    You have just described my existence. However, we were together for ten years before deciding to baby-up… Sooooo the whole process has been e-l-o-n-g-a-t-e-d…but I’m beginning to see flickers of possibility on the horizon…the possible reward for the bulldog tenacity, my refusal to consider my kids having two homes and the fact that we have been doing the HARDEST FUCKING WORK IN THE WORLD for almost (OMG) 14 years. Oh. I really thought it was 14, but I did a recount. I think it’s almost 16. Jeeez. Baby steps.

    • renegademama

      “Baby up.” so awesome.

      BABY FREAKING STEPS. honestly sometimes we go backwards, WAY backwards. but we’re still here goddamnit.

  • Lisa

    Love this! Spot on description. I also try to remember that not only is my husband not like any of the men in a Meg Ryan movie, neither am I like Meg Ryan. Sometimes I am a bitch. Sometimes I am grouchy. I’m always tired. Marriage is work and a whole lot of give and take. Ben Affleck had it right in his acceptance speech at the Oscars. Too bad he got so much flack for it.

    • renegademama

      I would say I’m normally a bitch and ALWAYS grouchy.

      I have to YouTube Affleck…I’m such an out-of-touch nerd.

  • Shawn Van Deusen

    My heart was breaking reading this post. You hit so close to home. My family is now broken. I couldn’t take it anymore. My problem was he didn’t want to fight for us. He cheated and didn’t want to fight for our family. We had 9 years together and were so good in so many ways. I tried everything in my power to save us. I knew if we got through this we would be better. But he continued to lie and cheat and lord knows what else. There was so much anger in my home that my oldest came to talk to me. I’m thankful for the choice I made. My girls are much happier.

    But the thought of him with his “whore” shall we say…kills me. It killed me that he introduced her to my daughter. It has been about 3 months and my heart literaly hurts daily. I can feel it in my chest…the pain is awful. The thought of trying again with any other man is not a thought now. I’m that middle aged single woman with issues right now.
    So every morning, I get up and breathe…..I think this might be a quote from the movie…”Sleepless in Seattle.” Thanks for letting me rant.

    Way to go at making it past that point. Blessings to you and your husband and your family. Thanks for sharing!

    • renegademama

      Shawn, this comment brought tears to my eyes. I want to say I’m sorry, but it’s stupid and not enough.

      You’re a brave, brave woman and you have all of my respect. I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through. I realize with all my heart that the fact that Mac hasn’t left, that he was willing to fight, is as important as anything I’ve ever done…

      there are better things waiting for you. there simply have to be.

      much love,

  • Meredith

    Fabulous post. Fabulous.

    Personally, all I took from “When Harry Met Sally” is that I didn’t want to marry Meg Ryan or Billy Crystal. But I did want that sandwich that she had at Katz’s deli. It’s tough to find a man as satisfying as good pastrami.

    Thanks for writing. So happy to discover you.

    • renegademama

      Ha! Good call. Do they even compete? I mean it’s PASTRAMI. One can’t have unreasonable expectations. I see you have a blog. I shall cruise over and read now….

  • Melissa

    I think Stephanie is married to my husband… He does all those things! My man and I are at the toughest point of our marriage. 2 kids, one with Down syndrome, we never have sex bc I don’t know how to get excited anymore after nursing 24/7 and being treated like a jungle gym by our toddler. We are broke. There is so much stress and we are in a constant argument. However, I would rather be not having sex and arguing and be stressed out with him, than be with any other douche bag out there!
    I guess that’s true love. Suck on that Meg Ryan!

  • Kyla

    I recently found your blogs and have spent many nights laughing out loud and sharing them on my Facebook. The way you talk, your sarcasm etc, reminds me of ME! Parenting…the truth behind closed doors. Some of us can admit it while others become miserable while pretending its all kisses and cuddles. Anyways…I feel the need to comment on this one. I recently met my soul mate. The love of my life. We are getting married in 3 months. I have no doubt in my mind or heart that in 50 years, I will still be married to this man. You may be laughing right now and even rolling your eyes, but I am positive. We entered into this relationship unexpectedly and honest. We met on after I had just broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years and father of my 2 youngest kids. I went on the site for fun after my friends pushed me to do so. He on the other hand had been on it for years. Out of all the creepy winks and messages I woke to that August morning, his was the one I opened. We ended up meeting that same day after hours of emailing back and forth. He told me he was still married but had been separated for 3 years. His wife had packed up their 2 boys and left him while he was serving our country. He had been trying for years to get her back. (She was pregnant with some young punks kids at the time) as he was telling me his story I couldn’t help feeling the need to hug him and also thinking “why is he on if he isn’t looking for a relationship?!” We continued to text for 2 days NONSTOP. I finally asked what he was looking for. He was honest and said he wanted a friend or a fuck buddy. At that point I tossed my phone down and thought “fuck that!” BUT I seriously enjoyed talking to him. We started talking about taboo subjects because “hey. Whatevs” after a convo about sex that lasted an entire day, I was practically begging for him to come over. And he did 😉 After that, there was no turning back. We were both hooked! We had many conversations about what we believe a relationship should be like. I would listen to him talk and think “is he reading some sort of dr Phil book over there?” He was mind fucking me and I liked it! Soon he confessed that he has read a plethora (he uses these sorts of words. First time he said plethora, I had to google it lol. I have since learned the meaning of many new words. He has a very high IQ btw. I feel like a dumbass sometimes) anyways…a plethora of books on relationships. So, a week later he said he changed his mind about his ex. He was going to file for divorce because he had fallen in love with me. Him and I have yet to have a fight that has any sort of name calling or yelling. We sit and read book after book on relationships and love and use everything we learn in our relationship. The best one is called “the 5 love languages” most amazing book ever. Every married couple should be required to read it! It touches on the 7 stages of love but mostly about keeping that love alive everyday. Filling your spouses “love tank” by speaking their love language. You can easily learn your spouses language just by paying attention to the things they do or use to do for you. For example, he constantly tells me how amazing I am. Great mom. Great cook. Hard worker etc. his language is words of affirmation. So, I try at least once a day to compliment him for something he does and man does he light up. My language…physical touch. I like a kiss on the cheek. Smack on the ass. Or SEX lol. So, he figured that out and BAM! If I’m cranky, a simple kiss on the cheek will brighten me up. My point in this ridiculous “novel” is this, I think everyone goes into their marriage thinking it will be exactly what you said. Sex, happiness etc etc. it IS work. But painless if you have the right tools. The infatuation stage that most of us are in when we get married, it fades! But the stages that follow make you stronger and in a new phase of love if you can recognize it and embrace it. I’m sure I sound like a crazy person coming on here with this gagging love story and talking about books. Books yuck! Lol. But I want everyone to see what we see and feel what we feel. We deserve it. My one and only suggestion for you is to read this one rather shortish book. I swear it will amaze you and change everything. (For the better) sounds like you have done a pretty good job in your marriage though. Just want to help you feel that happiness and love again. That is all. The end. I will be keeping up on your funny and oddly inspirational blogs 😉

    • renegademama

      The funny thing is, Kyla, that the whole point of this post is that I have never been more happy with my marriage, or more in love. Though I appreciate your interest (sort of) in helping me feel “happiness and love again,” I think you have misread this. My time for needing books to help me through was approximately 7 years ago.

      My point is that my marriage has moved beyond initial bliss of “soul mate” glory, gone through a wringer, and come out bigger and stronger and better than anything I ever could have imagined. I’m surprised you felt I needed counseling on how to achieve happiness and love, when my precise point is that I found it in a more profound way than I knew possible.

      Anyway, good luck getting married, and congratulations! I wish you continued perfect bliss for the next 50 years. “Painless,” to use your words. wink.

      • Kyla

        I suppose at the end I did make a suggestion didn’t I. I think I got sidetracked while writing all that when my mother called. I started out just talking about that book because it talks about those different stages of love. And I was trying to say that you had made it to that important stage (When I said it sounded like you have done a good job) When I said “suggest”, its more to read about the stages cause its pretty interesting. Wasn’t trying to counsel ya. Sorry it came off that way in the end. I totally agree that it did. seriously, I hate getting sidetracked when I’m writing like that lol. kind of ruins the mood. No offense. My sincere apologies.

        • renegademama

          It’s cool! I get sidetracked too. Often. Also I was also just giving you a hard time. thank you for taking the time to comment, thank you for reading, and there is no reason to apologize. And to be honest, I probably should read a book or two, you know, pay a little more attention, try a little harder. As I’m writing this I’m thinking maybe I got a little defensive, and for that I apologize.


  • lisaeggs

    I’m sort of in shock because that is pretty much exactly how I feel about marriage and I really thought I had this unique perspective. My marriage sucked for years and I would get such an intense loathing for my husband back then, it was crazy. But I hung in there. I think for the same reason you did but I just never really put it in words or maybe I just never admitted to myself that that was the reason. Now it’s nine years and 3 kids later, and I’m feeling like I’m over the hump (or I should really say A hump, I’m sure there’ll be another one) and it’s a love story again, different from the one we started, but at least it’s a love story and I’m glad he’s here. Now I think, I’m really lucky to have him, and we’re lucky to have each other. And trust me, that is a huge improvement from what it was. No one will be making a romantic movie about our marriage, but that’s okay. Thanks for giving a place for this to be said! And I love the picture. My first thought was: a rare color picture of Bonnie and Clyde 😉 so much love and thanks again xoxoxo

    • renegademama

      YES, a different love story than the one we started. So right on, Lisa. I’m not sure I can even add anything to that. YES, being grateful for him. Like truly, truly grateful.


      We’ve got something real, and it’s been proven. And there’s something to that.

  • Tonya

    This is all kinds of awesome…. thank God my husband and I are so different, otherwise, one of us would be dead. Seriously.

    Marriage is not for the weak, that is for sure and I would say that the only thing harder is motherhood!

    Great post.

  • Jill

    I don’t know you personally, but I love your blog!

    I have been married ten years, and I can totally relate to your post. I was trying to explain it to a newly wed friend recently how my marriage was just better because I lowered my standards. After that conversation I thought it was really unfair of me to call it that. I actually just managed to have realistic expectations of marriage. I might have to tell my husband what makes me happy, but he will do it if I tell him. He never make huge romantic gestures, but then again neither do I. He works hard, he is fun to be around. The biggest thing of all he helps me. Sometimes I will tell him he can never die, or leave me because I am just not sure I have it in me to raise 4 kids alone, and do it well. I might scrape by, but I don’t thing it would be even close to the same. It isn’t very sexy, and would make for a boring as hell movie, but I love him!

  • C Smith

    Oh God, this is so true. I spent my first year of marriage being insanely smug because we had it right, everyone else was doing it wrong and we were the most in love people EVER. I spent the next few years thinking, “why are you trying so hard to make me HATE you?” Then I spent a while wondering if it was worth starting over alone, and could I stand to share my kids. Then I made the best of things for a while. Now I feel like we’ve come out on the other side and that “hey, I might actually LIKE this guy”.

  • Jen

    I followed this link from a friend and fell compelled to comment.

    I found reading this quite upsetting. To think that people think that hating your husband is normal? I see other couples like this all the time at the moment and I just DON’T get it. That doesn’t mean that I’m right in my view either. Each person lives their life, in their way, which is the way it should be.

    BUT I went into my marriage with my eyes WIDE OPEN. I come from a broken home and DO NOT wish to continue that trend.

    Equally I am not living in the movies. We fight, scream even, but rarely.

    I married my husband because I love him and because I couldn’t imagine not being his wife, neither did I want to. I married him because I knew it would work. Because we would work at it. Because I knew it could work.

    NOT because we are both perfect. Far from it. But the reason I knew and know all of the above is because I know who he is. Not who I want him to be. Not who he could be. But I know him. I know his flaws, I don’t love them, but I understand them. I accept them. I expect them. And he is the same with me.

    We discussed all of the big things in life before getting married. We both set out what we wanted out of life and what we didn’t. What we expected and what we didn’t. Where we would compromise and where we wouldn’t. Luckily for us, these matched. And where they didn’t we discussed it and came to an agreement. BEFORE we said I do.

    I didn’t want or expect the movies. I wanted and expected a life, full of ups and downs. With my best friend at my side. Sometimes annoying me and sometimes filling me with the greatest love and hope I could ever wish for.

    It’s not like we’ve had it easy either. We’ve lost three babies in one year due to recurrent miscarriages. It’s been devastating.

    But we are in love and we are happy.

    • renegademama

      I’m sorry, I want to respond, but your smug superiority is talking so loud, I simply cannot hear what you’re saying.

      • Jen

        I do not feel smug or superior to YOU or ANYONE else. I’m am sorry of that is how you felt I was being. It was a honest reaction to an honest, if not hard to read post. Please feel free to delete my comment if you do not wish to respond to it.

        • renegademama


          Okay, here is a response. First of all, judging from your initial comment, it appears what you concluded from this post is that I “hate my husband,” which is quite obviously not what what I said. What I said is EXACTLY what YOU said: “we are in love and we are happy.” I just got there a different way.

          You then proceeded to outline all the ways you have surpassed all the people (like me) who you “don’t understand” who “think it’s normal” to “hate their husbands.” You went into great detail about how you and your husband have so thoughtfully and strategically navigated marriage, and if you cannot understand how that comes across as incredibly smug and superior, well then I don’t know how to help you.

          But perhaps I can sum it up for you by summarizing the essential message of your comment: “If you were wise and smart and good like me, you would not have the experience you’re having.”

          AND THAT MAY BE TRUE. But I’m trying to speak to the people who didn’t go into marriage perfectly, or maybe they did and the other person didn’t, or maybe they THOUGHT they did…or whatever…but at some point things got hard, really hard, and they were sure they hated that dude. And I’m trying to provide some hope, not JUDGE THE SHIT OUT OF THEM for not doing everything “right” (like you did, obviously).

          I’m not speaking to people like you, who quite apparently have everything quite figured out and neatly arranged.

          And you might want to ask yourself WHY you wrote this comment. If you were able to be honest with yourself, and quite frankly I doubt that’s possible, you would probably find that it was to bask in your own superiority over those of us who didn’t do ALL THE THINGS you did to ensure a great marriage.

          On other blogs people like you might get off clean and easy, but not here. The whole reason this blog exists is because we all got sick of people like you, looking at us with our struggles and tribulations, going, “I just don’t understand,” or, in your words: “I just DON’T get it.”

          have a good one.

          • Jen

            Thank you.

            I shall agreed to disagree. If I could delete, then I would. But only you can. If you think I prove your point then leave it.

            But I did not pass judgement. Mearly claimed not to understand. The only judgement made is by you of me.

            I did not say that you hate your husband. And yes I did get it that you have found your way out the other side.

            I also did not claim to be perfect.

            But it appears we are both unable to hear what the other one is intending to be read. For that I am sorry. I will not comment again.

            And again. I know you will not believe me but I promise I did not intend to offend. So for offending I am sorry.

          • lisaeggs

            I always come back to read the comments of the women who get it and take a little strength from these awesome ladies. Sometimes there’s a comment like Jen’s that knocks me back a little. But Janelle and Heather, you both said it all. Thank you! Jen, why would Janelle delete these comments of yours? What did you expect? You may regret them b/c now you’ve been called out, but they actually serve as a perfect example for what we’re talking about here. So maybe I shouldn’t be knocked back at all. No, in fact, quite the opposite. xoxo

    • Heather

      You read this post wrong. This is not her writing about hating her husband as you so eloquently stated. If you read the whole post you would have seen that there is so much more to what she wrote. It’s sad though that you take one sentence and decide for yourself that she hates her husband. I am so thankful to woman like renegade momma who put their hearts out there and are REAL and not fake! Do you know how many woman have read her words and thought to themselves wow I can make it through another day because I am not alone in this. She has helped So many woman to realize that they will be okay, and to just hang on another day. Can you say the same thing? I am so sick of self righteous people that try and shove there shit down someone else’s throat! It’s just too bad that you can’t see the gift in having another woman share her “realness” to help others. Laughter and realness and just listening are wonderful tools to share with other’s. Okay…off my soap box now!

      • Jen

        I did not read this post wrong. In fact I read it three times before commenting. I simply took something different from it than you.
        I am glad that you found hope in it.
        However I commented on a blog post in an honest way. If you do not agree that’s fine. But I don’t know you and I’m not shoving anything down your throat.
        Nore did I express anger. Just sadness.

        I’m sorry that my honestly upset you. I do not wish you anything ill.

        • renegademama

          “Sadness?” You expressed “sadness” that I said my husband and I struggled through years together to find a profoundly solid relationship? Are you SURE you read this three times? Perhaps a reading comprehension course is in order.

          And from where exactly does your “sadness” stem? From the idea that the world can’t be perfect like you? That not everybody has the profound insight and thoughtfulness and PERFECTION that you so clearly have in the area of marriage?

          There is nothing “sad” about this post, and nothing “sad” about the fact that some people STRUGGLE and FIGHT really fucking hard to get a relationship that works, to find what you have evidently found through careful planning and whatever else you listed in such great detail.

          You know what’s “sad?” that you don’t see that.

          But now I’m moving into the zone of smug superiority I’ve accused you of. And so I’ll just let this go, and wish you the best.

          I’m thankful for you. You remind me why I’m writing this blog, and how grateful I am for the people who regularly read it.

        • Heather

          There is nothing sad about this post!!! Listen your “honesty” that you speak of comes across very superior and judgmental. I have 4 kids and I would die for any one of them because I LOVE them…but do I always like them…not so much. This does NOT diminish my love for them it only makes it REAL. That is the truth about relationships. ALL relationships!! Either you are in denial about your relationship and really need to take off blinders, or you are just full of shit! (no offense.) Renegade Momma talked openly and honestly about how 2 people who fell in love with each other and found a way through the tough shit of life to keep it together and still love each other. It’s called LIFE!!! obviously anything I say will not change the way you think. but CLEARLY you read this post wrong if you did not get the absolute amazing LOVE that 2 people have for each other….and that is sad….

        • Heather

          and just to add the thing that makes LOVE strong is not bailing even when you want nothing more than to bail. That is the point!!! That is what LOVE is…

      • renegademama

        And Heather, thank you. Thank you.

  • Pam

    I LOVED this!!! You have such a gift for putting this stuff into the perfect words. Especially the part about people with Hallmark marriages and orgasmic birth. I don’t know why I haven’t bookmarked your blog or added it to my Google reader yet. Off to do both…

  • Kateri Von Steal

    This post…


    Made me angry… then sad… then happy…
    Much like a Meg Ryan Movie…

    You are a great writer.
    You always leave me thinking, and inspired…

    It isn’t supposed to be perfect.
    Nothing ever is…
    All great things require work.

    Sending you lots of blog love!

  • Sarah Maren

    I love Mac’s comment the best. 🙂 So happy you wrote this all down! Give your bearded man a hug from me. (not an inappropriate one though… those I save for you.)

  • Jevro

    My sister sent me a link to this and I think I laughed so hard I fell over. We both grew up without TV and an endless supply of movies. Being good Christians, our parents would let us watch all the romantic comedies we could get our hands on.

    And it fucking ruined us. She married young and succeeded spectacularly, I waited and failed miserably. We both are dealing with it pretty well.

    I just wanted to say that I completely agree, laughed so hard I was worried my boss would find out what I was doing, and think you should also address Disney Princesses in the same vein. I had a prince saving a princess complex that damned near killed me.

  • Michael Ann

    Loved this. So raw and real, as always. Shared it with friends. I’m divorced now and yes, it was the right decision for us. There were other circumstances that were just not okay…. but I have a much more realistic expectation about love now that I’m older and wiser. I’m glad you figured it out while still married!

  • Kim

    damn girl.
    nailed it AGAIN!

  • Mary

    This is seriously the best damn thing I’ve read in a long time. I am so effin’ sick of people talking about marriage like it’s some fairytale, blessing, or anything in between. Thanks for speaking the TRUTH!!

    LOVED every word.

  • Renee'

    Wow! You nailed it, Janelle. After being married 39 years, I have pretty run the gamut of emotions when it comes to my marriage. It is work, damn hard work to live with someone that long. Someone you love one minute and 15 minutes later, hate with your whole being! However, like you said, if you commit to the fact that marriage isn’t what you see in the movies, you will make it. That you don’t just fall in love and stay in the love every minute of your married life, you will make it. If you don’t give up on yourself and trust your marriage, you will make it. If you give a damn your kids and grandkids, you will make it. Like I said, it is really hard work but work that does’t always suck! Besides, do you really think I would like to share this 59 year old body with anyone new??? I don’t think so!

  • CLG

    The comments are making this so much more amazing than just the incredible post. Am I really not alone? Wowza.

  • Brett

    You have a great gift, Janelle. Your words are gorgeous, and your imagery is hilarious, and somehow at the end of all of your posts I find myself with tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing your talent. For real.

    Oh, and my dude and I have been together 10 years now, and I’ve been reminded lately of how damn hot/handy/funny/helpful/supportive he is. Coincidence? I think NOT.

  • jill (mrs chaos)

    This. THIS is what I love about this world of internets and blogs and amazing people like you who speak your truth. And help the rest of us connect and realize that YES this is how I feel too!!!

    You are amazing. And I love you.

  • Islay

    this is hilarious! my husband and i just celebrated, no scratch that, HAD our 11th anniversary yesterday. my version of meg ryan meets apocalypse now is that after the kids were in bed, we got a sitter and he took me to the ymca where we both worked out. now that is romance. lol!

  • Athena

    You’re post makes me think about Hollywood. I’m not sure that it’s so much that Meg Ryan lied to us (and I know this is only a tiny portion of your message, but it’s what stuck with me), as it is that Hollywood is so unrepresentative of reality. There are 5 distinctly different types of marriages (according to my little corner of interpersonal comm. studies) and in film I only ever see 2 of them represented. You see the meg ryan/disney love stories the most and they are statistically speaking the rarest kind of marriage. You also occasionally see the over dramatized we-have-nothing-in-common I hate my partner marriages, but they’re generally over simplified versions of reality (though to be fair even the happy disney-type romances are over simplified). They leave out the other 3 types of marriages which are by far the more common and relateable types of marriage. They tend to leave out the quiet love in polite marriages, they leave out the friendly marriages where people get alone but find fulfilment in their lives outside marriages, and they leave out the passionate marriages that either dissolve or transform into something else. Even with these categories you loose the sense of uniqueness that each marriage has, and you never get the full sense of how much work they can be.

    I feel like if they were more representative of reality it would really help a lot of new couples through those first several years when they’re adjusting to this new and sometimes scary situation.

    Yes, the meg ryan love stories exist, but they’re rare, and even then what the movies show is only the tip of the iceberg and it’s not always easy for those people either.

    So thanks for sharing your story. If hollywood can’t/wont tell the stories that are a bit more representative of real life at least we can find them online from honest people like you.

  • Chrystal

    Thank YOU! At first I’m annoyed, saddened, enraged at you for being so darkly depressive (however, real). And then, I’m crying for the beauty all wrapped up in it all- this is the real shit. You are awesome for saying it so breathtakingly.

  • Desiree

    Yes, this. So much this. Fuck yeah, fist pump, mad props, big ups, just YES.

    We’ve only been married three years but good fucking God, they have been a mess of some three years. Mere mortals would have thrown in the towel at week two. Luckily, me and the hubs are way too bull-headed to just give up and there were many a time when we would scream at each other You leave! No YOU leave bitch! But neither of us ever did and we’re finally getting to a place where we can breathe again.

    Love your blog!

  • Mel

    Kyla, you raise some sound points and you’re clearly warm-hearted but, I’m sorry, the phrase ‘filling someone’s “love tank” ‘ gives me the wig! Jen, ah yes, if only other people would talk more before they do something and plan, god dammit, plan. Then you wouldn’t have to feel sad for those of us who’ve been in the position of hating our partners (btw, if it’s sad for you, how do you think it feels for us poor schmucks who didn’t align our values and goals clearly enough beforehand?!). Oh, and Janelle, thanks for, as always, being such an eloquent voice for those of us who – d’oh – just don’t have their eyes wide open enough.

  • Didi

    I woke up this morning and looked at his peaceful, beautiful face and wanted to smash it with a brick. Thank you for letting me not feel guilty about it!! I am simultaneously over the moon in love and desparately grasping for my last straw of independence. I am also 26 weeks pregnant with my first baby…and 42. And super excited. Just fucked up hormonally, I guess. Thank you for your blog. I crave it like a dirty Grey Goose martini.

  • Cheryl S.

    Thank you. This is SO true. And it makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one that feels that way.

    Hubby and I have been together for 13 years and married for 10. There are definitely days (weeks, months) that I want to say “fuck it!” but I don’t. I don’t for me. I don’t for us. and I don’t because of my daughter.

    Here’s to coming through the bad stuff and making it to the other side.

  • Meghan


  • Sarah

    hmmm, first time commenting, but have been loving your blog for about 4 months now.

    I read this just hot off the heels of commenting on a BabyCenter (i know, i know, root of all evil) post about how to prepare a relationship for children….as if. I tried not to scare the FTMs too much.

    Your writing makes me feel validated in a way that I don’t get anywhere else. Thank you, please keep it up and congratulations on your graduation.

  • Anne

    Exactly! Thank you for proving that I’m not the only one who went through that process. Actually, I still am. Just when I’d kicked the romantic novels & happily ever after movies out of my life, a new danger krept in… social media. In the modern world of tweets, blogs & status updates, I keep running into the “perfect” husband & wife portrayed for all the world to see. The public heart-wrenching devotion expressed by some couples makes me feel like shit when I think of the daily struggles going on in my home. Then I have to say to myself, SNAP OUT OF IT (thank you, Cher). Be glad for them, hope it’s at least partially true for their sake and keep focussed on my own reality. We have two wonderful sons with autism, we don’t have date nights, I don’t get extravagant gifts on special holidays, and we often have to split up to meet all of the obligations. So what? It works. Only my hubby & I know what it’s taken to reach our “lucky” 13th year and now we are determined to keep on racking ’em up! Thanks again!

  • Sarita

    Whoa, woman, you are a badass, honest, beautiful, talented human being. Serious kudos to you for telling it like it is. Or at least how it is for so many of us. I’ve been with my partner for close to 15 years, married for almost nine. Two kids, one dog. Hard times. My baby sister was killed in an accident at age 28 — my husband and I were newlyweds. Now I understand why people divorce when that shit happens – the stuff that is the “for worse” part of for better or for worse. But like you, we’re hanging in there. Things are looking up. Our kids sleep through the night; one is in public school. We aren’t broke anymore. Blah, blah, blah. I love him. Still ain’t easy. Thank you for this post.

  • Andrea

    Yep – it’s about time someone tells it like it is. I’ve always wondered why those romance movies choose to only show the fun side of love. It sets so many people up for disappointment when they get married and get the real deal. Marriage is hard and in today’s world it’s too easy to call it quits. I married my high school sweetheart at 21. We just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary but have been together 14 years. We still get on each others nerves and I don’t think a week goes by that we don’t have at least one big argument. I think too many people think that arguments just aren’t supposed to happen and when they do, they don’t know what to do or how to work it out…all thanks to the movies and other love-is-a-fairytale crap out there.

  • Breezy

    Thank you for speaking the truth. The ugly, beautiful, raw truth. It is refreshing.

  • Donna Boucher

    Hi Janelle,

    I really did love your post. I thought it was well written and funny and touching. That’s why I linked it. From previous discussions here in the comments, I knew the swearing would not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is why I warned them. I happen to see the humor in swearing….where other’s do not. That’s okay. I’m so glad you stuck it out and found the sweetness….I love your honesty.
    Marriage is so hard and I think about this topic a lot!! Thanks!

    (I posted this in my comments too Janelle…I wanted to make sure you saw it.)

  • Abby

    WOW! I am not married but I am on my way to being Married. This is exactly what I needed to read. Even just being in a relationship of 5yrs, there are days when I am like “I could strangle this dick-head”. But a good 75% of the time I am so grateful and lucky to have this man in my life as my partner in crime and best friend. OH do I know that things aren’t always going to be smooth sailing and roses, blah blah blah, YES. BUT we are both “IN IT TO WIN IT” and have committed to working our issues and shit out and fighting for our relationship. I agree with most of these awesome ladies, no one is perfect, it is seeing and accepting and 75% of the time LOVING that person that makes the relationship work. Only you can make yourself happy and only you can fulfill yourself, you can’t look or lean on another person but they can be by your side and support you, even if sometimes you want to shove them so hard they fall over…oh sorry back to my point. I am not married yet, but I know who I am marrying and although it isn’t always sunshine and cupcakes, I love spending time with him and enjoy his company, and I would fight to the death for my relationship with him.

  • sonnet 2

    I didnt’ hang in there, after being with him since I was 14,married at 18, kids at 18 and 21, married for 25 years, divorceed now remarried and wishing every day that I was back in the good old bad days. Family intact, kids and grandkids coming back “home” not making separate visits.
    Grieving over what is lost and navigating this moving forward nonsense.
    Good on ya, life on this side is often looking back…

  • Sara

    Hahahaaaaa! Love it!

    “A Meg Ryan love story.

    Fused perfectly with Apocalypse Now.”

    Same here! 😀

  • bel

    My husband and I have been together for about 11 years. After a while you stop remembering if only because you realise you were kids and had fun back then but life is full of responsibilities and work and all the other stuff that makes you feel old!!

    He’s put up with one hell of a lot of shit from me over the years. I think I have tested him in every way possible. And he’s still there. Sometimes I wonder if he’s a complete idiot for being so, but I am eternally grateful that he is.

    When we met he was in a band, and signed and we had a ‘flexible’ relationship, I figured there was no point holding him to expectations when he was away for months and we’d not long met. To his credit, he never so much as kissed another woman. It’s just not in his nature. One of the first things he said to me (when I was a teenager and angst ridden and clingy) was “I’m not going to make you happy. You have to do that. You have to do the things that make you happy, I’m going to do the things that make me happy. If we try and make each other happy we’ll both miss out and it won’t work”. At the time I thought he was being a selfish dick who just wanted his own way in all things. As time went on, I realised how right he was. You can enhance someone’s life, you can be something that makes their life worth living, but it has to be passive, because if you are responsible for making someone happy, if you are solely responsible (and be expected to) for making someone happy- it’s not realistic. And one day when you hate each other you’ll realise that trying to make that work is doomed from the start. Yes, cheer each other up. Be loving and romantic, but don’t count on one person to provide you with happiness and be the sole reason for your existence. You have to be that person and you have to fill your own life with reason and thinkgs that make you happy.

  • LF

    I found your blog recently through a friend who shared your recent sleep training post on Facebook. Brilliant, and so close to home! And then I just haven’t been able to stop reading all of your posts. This one I feel the need to comment on, even though it’s older. I needed this so much right now! We’re going through the hating each other phase — and have been for about the last year and half (since baby #2 was born). We have the same arguments over and over again. I’m extremely tired and stressed all of the time, and he goes to work and socializes and stays out til 2am partying with people from work, and I want to kill him – or leave him. I’ve threatened to leave him several times, but it’s that thought of raising the kids by myself or having another adult – male or female – around “helping to raise” them that keeps me from leaving. Plus, occasionally, we have great sex – or even just good sex – or I catch a glimpse of something I love about him when he cooks us dinner or takes care of the kids. But most of the time, it’s just pure rage and hurt and sadness because he’s not the family man I was hoping for. Bulldog-like tenacity is what I need right now. I just gotta hang in there – and hope he does, too – hope he doesn’t end up ruining us financially with a DUI or cheating on me and ruining us that way. I can’t live in this constant state of worry, though, so I just have to stop yelling at him and let him live how he’s going to live. Anyway, thank you so much for this post – and for all of them. I should be working, but instead, I’m reading your writing. Thank you.

  • Nicole

    You are my motherfucking spirit animal.

  • Cicieight

    Clearly, I’m a little late to the party, having just come across your blog. Your article. Every word. It’s me. Even down to the “not being able to stand the thought of another woman with my children” part. Most days I handle all of it just fine. Some days I think “wouldn’t life be perfect if he were just ‘gone’. But then he makes a certain face, or does something especially sweet. Then I remember – I love the schmuck.
    Wonderful writing. You have a new follower 🙂

  • kat

    thank you thank you thank you. so much. and thank you to all the people who commented. even that smug superior bitch. phew. i am not alone! 8 years together, 5 years married, 2 kids, and i felt i lost all my attraction and love for my man. sometimes i feel we can’t even be friendly to eachother. started to doubt if i ever really loved him in the first place. we are in such a bad place for the moment, i don’t know why he is sticking around when it is so tough and i have threatened divorce 4 times in the past 3 months. but he is an optimist. i have learned a lot from him, but i have learned even more from this blog post. thank you. i don’t want to be a statistic, divorced, kids with different dads, and also can’t bear the thought of having to share my precious girls with a step-mother or even with a new husband/boyfriend.
    so thank you again for making such a painful subject so damn funny and lighter!! i hope to write you in a few years when this is over to tell you we made it and that this post was my inspiration to stick it out!

  • Ki

    This had me bawling my eyes out at my desk at work for a good two hours. I am recently divorced and every single day I think ‘did we not try hard enough?’. No, we didn’t. We divorced (after 10 years) because we recognized that we had different value systems and we wanted very different things out of life, and weren’t willing / strong enough to make space for both of those within our marriage…I rejected his life(style) and choices that he had created for himself during our marriage when I gave him independence / checked out, and he rejected mine when he check out. It is an awful feeling to have failed. To know with undeniable evidence that I don’t have the bulldog tenacity it takes to put the work into a marriage. That my kids will grow up with another woman in their lives. The misery I felt in my marriage is nothing compared to the misery I feel now, that feeling of failure, that I/we couldn’t make a marriage work; we weren’t strong enough, and that the people who will be affected the most are my children. How utterly selfish of me. I wish I had read this post about a year ago – it would have been so helpful. Right now, it’s just a bitter pill to swallow, but still one that I know is necessary. And also, screw you Hollywood. YOU should make a movie, Janelle!

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