Thursday, October 25, 2012

Laying side by side in bed the other night, 
a show or news or something came on.  Can't remember.
But the picture of a sweet, elderly couple saying they were celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary.
To which I think I responded, "Dear God.  55 years?!  Hah!"
Sort of jokingly of course.  Sort of not.
Turning to my husband.
"55 years?  Are we going to make it to that?"
Hoping he would ignore my humorous yet hopeful tone and respond with seriousness and confidence.
"Of course we will!  Honey.  Really?  What a silly question."
Instead I got a, 
"Hell no!"  He laughed.  55 years?!  Pleh!"
"Oh.  Really?"  I'm an optimist.  A dreamer, anyway.
We don't really know the answer to that.  No one does.
We can THINK we do.  But in marriage?  Life?  You just can't.
You can hope.  Dream.  Wish.
I'm all talk about trying to stay in the present,
but it's hard not to look ahead in marriage.  
Forecast the future.
Some days?  It DOES seem unimaginable.
Hell.  THIRTY-FIVE years seems daunting.
You hear so often of couples sticking it out to 30+ years and THEN getting divorced?!  At that point, I think, you're in it to win it!  Why give up then?
I work to pull my crazy thoughts back to the present.  
Ignore our joking.
Back to the 9 years where we currently reside.
We had a chance to sneak away for our anniversary,
to celebrate the short 9 years we've shoved under our belts.
Into the northern woods.
Lovely, because we got to pluck ourselves from the crazy life that is raising children.
A little awkward, sometimes, for the same reason. 
The noise, chaos and fast-moving lifestyle, stripped away, 
to reveal,
Where all the things, topics, habits, conversations that have been laying dormant, are brought to the forefront.  
There's so much clarity in stillness.
Exposed.  Raw.  And waiting.
Like a quiet, still lake. 
Smooth as glass on the surface.
Do you dive in and disrupt that serenity?
Unsure of course, what you'll find at the bottom.
Or let it be, for another day?  
Ignore the mirror staring back at you both,
reflecting things that need to be acknowledged.
And nothing serious, mind you.
But the little things. . .that propel the current of marriage.
The could one day, become a raging river.
You have to connect when you can.
And we're big on trying to both. . .figuring out where we're at?
But also just being together.
For us, it's necessary.  
It's hard to find quiet in our daily life.
And when we do, we don't want to talk about the heavy stuff.
Money, future, more kids, hopes, dreams, hurts, frustrations.
But I'll say it a million times.
Communication is everything. 
So we cover our 'agenda' in the quiet moments.
Work it out.  Try to meet somewhere in the middle.
Plan for what we can.  Hope for the best with the rest.
No idea what's to come of course,
how our life, our marriage, our family, will continue to be tested.
But hold on to the hope that maybe we'll BE one of those couples.  
Like our grandparents.  Our OWN parents. 
Wake to another day, fifty years from now, side by side.
And I wonder, the 'newbies' that we are to marriage, 
HOW they did it? 
I don't know how often they stopped to contemplate.  But just did it.
I'm fully aware now, marriage is a never-ending obstacle course, made even more so with children.
Some days, an easy hop, skip and jump on to the next day.
Others, a treacherous climb when you've got no energy left to pull yourself up.
There are days I find myself telling a 17-year-old Gracie, broken-hearted over a boy,
"Honey?  Forget him.  Don't cry over him.  You don't need a man to be happy.  Let him go."
WHICH, I believe and will tell her regardless.
Happiness comes from within.  Not from a man, a woman, a place, a job.
And sometimes I find myself telling her she doesn't HAVE to get married.  Or shouldn't.
"Enjoy your freedom!  Enjoy being alone!  Enjoy the space to move!  To breathe!  To live without having to care for someone else!"  Maybe even a, "DON'T DO IT!"
SOME days?  That sounds lovely to even me.
MOST days?  It sounds unbearably boring and lonely.
So I too, despite what I know about marriage,
can't imagine NOT.
I LOVE my freedom, alone time, being an individual. 
But having someone there to pick up the slack, hold your hand and help you across,
bridge the gap between your self and a better version of you,
is a gift.
After covering (ahem. . .griping) this topic (often) with other mom/wife friends,
we can't say we don't fantasize a little. . .
about a life of PURE freedom. . .no responsibilities, no kids to manage, no husband to clean up after or answer to, just me. . .getting a little lost in that whole 'the grass is always greener' idea.
But it's not.  It's never greener.
And what most people learn after the fact,
it what seemed "better," really isn't. 
It's all how you look at things.
That although your scenery may APPEAR bleak, lifeless, blah,
that the green grass you were looking for, you already have.
It's all in perspective, isn't it?
And for some, a way out, is the only way.
Divorce is a must for many.
But I believe it's possible to have married life
be just as plush and green and rich with good soil, 
if you find the right person
and work to love each other.
Although I THRIVE on solitude.  My own way.  Self-motivated and selfish, I've had to learn how to play on a team.
Consider and act and behave for the greater good, NOT just myself.
I find truth in a quote from Rabbi Harold Kushner.
"We marry for intimacy.  To find someone who will care for us. . .
but we also marry to join ourselves to someone whose life will be different for having shared life with us. . ."
Everyone wants to HAVE someone.  
To BE someone's "somebody."  It's nourishing.  
It feels good to be wanted.  It validates our existence.  
Being loved by someone and LOVING someone,
is proof that we are important.  That we matter.
That we are significant.
And it's THAT love, that helps us become who we were meant to be.
We'll have our moments of weakness.
But can always come back to the truth that life is so much sweeter when it's shared.
So much more exciting.  
So much more adventurous, 
so much. . .EASIER.
There's so much to say for the spouse at the end of the day, who brings respite.  Who your shoulders slump for, 
grateful for the relief, the love, the support.
For the husband that listens.  Offers suggestions.  Loving and gentle words of encouragement.  Yet calls you out.  Holds you accountable.  Reminds you the world doesn't revolve around you.
What I understand about marriage, is that it IS and WILL be work. 
No matter how much you think you've got it figured out.
You're still both human.  
You will both continue to make mistakes.  
Disappoint and frustrate the hell out of each other.
But can find great peace and solace,
able to lean on each other when darkness settles in.
Past the pretty wedding, the pretty gown, the honeymoon,
it's nitty gritty.
It's learning to apologize.  Forgive.  Start again.  
CHANGE.  Compromise.  Sacrifice.
It's making a CONSCIOUS choice each day, to be there for each other.
As hard as that may be some days.
To not run, but just stay in the thick of it...
And have faith, that the work, the talk, the efforts put forth,
will make life even that much more beautiful,
for having seen it through, together.
Marriage is a dance. 
A never-ending conversation between two people.  Learning how to grow as individuals, side by side.  
I'm thankful for that, every day.
Blessed for the beauty and growth he has brought to my life.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Liz, Thank you for this beautiful post on marriage, from one married woman to another, thank you for the truth, the honesty, the real thoughts on marriage. Marriage is a dance, a flow of easy and hard, challenge and rest. It shows us the best person we can be and reflects the worst person we can be, it is selfish yet loving, truthful yet sneaky..marriage is the best journey out there, but no one said adventures are easy..that' why there called adventures, because you just never know what will come next!! Thank you for your words Liz, I am truly grateful to know you!

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