After thirteen years with her husband, Jer, Nikki Pennington often gets the question, "what's your secret?"
In a now-viral post to her Facebook page on Saturday, Pennington revealed her "secret" — which is that the only key is to "get up and try again over and over every damn day."
The typical responses to questions about the key to a successful marriage, as she wrote, include "don't go to bed angry" or "always say I love you when they leave." But Pennington says that she and her husband have broken those rules multiple times over.
"You guys, do you know how many times in eleven years Jer has taken residency on the couch prior to us having kids because we were mad?" she wrote. "Do you know how many times he's left without us saying 'I love you' because kids and life."
Instead of those clichés, she said, making a marriage work means trying even when you don't feel like it.
"It's hanging on tight when you are young, newly married and living on frozen dinners because it's all you can afford," she wrote. "It's staying up all night in tears with your first newborn child because you both are over tired, overwhelmed, and scared to death but you are in it together."
Pennington tells Refinery29 that she and her husband met through her grandfather, who knew Jer's family and introduced the two of them. Now, they've been together for thirteen years (married for eleven), and have three boys together.
As she said, relationships take work, and there are going to be difficult times, but that doesn't mean that your relationship isn't worth it, or that you aren't meant to be together.
"It simply means that obstacles in life happen, married or not," she tells us. "Nobody seems to want to talk about those things when you are getting married."
Her message has clearly resonated with other people. At the time of writing, her post has received over 95,000 shares.
Pennington, for one, is glad that so many people have responded positively — "I'm thankful that others out there could read it and say, 'me too' and not feel alone thinking their marriage isn't 'perfect,'" she says.
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