This lovely man and I are about to celebrate 24 years of marriage in just a short month. And I’ve been reminiscing with him on our long walks this week–it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come.
Just today, in one of those random moments of serendipity, we ran into the inn keepers of one of our favorite Bed and Breakfast places on Whidbey Island while walking along the Riverfront. We had been guests in their home 20 years ago, in the very early days of our marriage. They were on a cruise excursion and we all stood around being amazed at how small our world truly is. I couldn’t help but think about all the anniversaries we spent at their place — who we were in those days. Who we are now.
Today, I would probably rewrite the first line of the post below (which originally ran on Evidently in 2006!!) but the rest still holds. It’s still the most fitting description of our marriage that I can find. So, as we approach the month mark: with the realization that I’ll probably have much more to say on marriage and love in the coming weeks — I thought I’d share this with you.
This, and the nutty photo of my adorable husband mocking me for taking our photo on our date night. Never let it be said I don’t keep it real.
Originally posted: June 2006
The Space Between
I’m the last to give advice on marriage. Because, like the people who inhabit them, marriages are diverse and unique and complicated unto themselves. What works for me, isn’t likely to work for you. And, despite being married for 16 years today, and despite the fact most of my friends are working on second (and third) marriages, it still doesn’t mean I know anything about the subject of making it work. Don’t ask me what our secret is. I don’t know.
However, what I do know is that no matter the individuals involved, marriage (or long-term committed partnering) creates another entity entirely of its own. And it doesn’t automatically happen with the “I Dos.” Consider all the ceremonial stuff fertilization because becoming a “WE” can’t evolve overnight. Every “I” and every “You” must practice at “WE”again and again and again. Practice.
Sometimes practice means rumbling at each other like gods in the heavens throwing insult laden thunder clouds. “Well, YOUR mother is a meddling know-it all –try cutting your apron strings!” Or, “Yeah? Well, YOU can’tt wash a dish to save your soul! You call this clean” All this clattering in the skies of marriage eventually leads to fighting fair, but it takes practice. Because, real marriage isn’t always getting along and having unlimited sex — the movies lie. But you can practice.
Sometimes practice means choosing the other when you’ve been conditioned to choose yourself.
Practice involves holidays and customs being navigated with care. It involves being patient and forgiving and hopeful of the future. Always hopeful of the future. And if you cease to be hopeful, practice involves asking for help to find that hope again.
Sometime practice will produce progeny. This makes the “WE” an “US”. And you can get lost in being an “US”, so much so that you forget you were also working on becoming “WE”. Little people, especially when they are little, are sirens belting out lullabies. If only we could sleep. Sleep deprivation induces visions of leviathans until we become the sea creatures we imagine–twisting and turning, roaring in our exhaustion. It’s not choosing sleep over sex that puts us out of practice: no, that choice is an act of survival. It is the all-consuming nature of care that induces an form of marital dementia. We forget.
However, in time, if we are lucky, if we are blessed, if we are intentional, if we remember, IF. . . we return to our practice, to our discipline of being “WE“and in it we discover that time has worked its magic. That there is a “WE” being formed, so distinct from our individual selves it seems a pity it does not have a name of its own. It is like no other “WE” we know. We may look around and see others of its kind, but never just the same. Like the “I” and the “You” who form it this “WE” is unique.
This “WE” happened in the space between the storming, between the lovemaking, between choosing and the sleep. It happened between the coffees on the deck, the walks along the beach, the countless hours between the sheets. It happened as we practiced. And what that practice produced was a space where you and I could meet and gradually become WE.
I suspect, that those who stick it out for as long as they can find that space between to be sacred space. This sacred space has formed me in ways that nothing else could. Becoming a “WE” has made me a different person, a person I would not have become outside of the practice. And while I still remain myself on so many fronts, it is a better self. I am blessed beyond measure to have lived this long with you and to have had the opportunity to experience all that We have together. I love you beyond measure–there are not words. And because there are no words this is simply inadequate to express my immense wonder and awe for having been here, in this place, this time, this HOLY space with you.
Thank you for being who YOU are. And being willing to practice with ME. WE are so blessed.
The only secret I have, is no secret at all. I love you. Happy Anniversary.