It occurred to me yesterday, while my husband was opening his homemade cards and bolting his Father's Day dinner so he could get my oldest child to his ball game, (District Championships) that I don't acknowledge nearly enough publicly or privately, what a really, really great guy he is.
My parents are visiting from Wisconsin, and I am deep in the throes of tournament panic...(we are hosting a tournament in three days, which I am essentially responsible for planning..YIKES)...and I don't have the time or the mental facility right now to really sit down and put into words exactly how much he means to me.
So, I am reposting this piece that I wrote a while back. It pretty much covers why I consider myself extremely lucky. Mawage......(WARNING: Movie spoiler "The Notebook"; bottom of post)"Mawage is what brings us togeva....today."
I have been married for 13 years. I know this is not as impressive as say, 40 years of wedded bliss, but in this day and age, it's an increasingly rare accomplishment. So I'm proud, but I'm also puzzled. Why did we make it this far when so many don't?
It's clear from reading some blogs, that there are those who consider their marriage a necessary evil; an institution to be endured until such time as their parental obligation to provide a stable two parent family is fulfilled. It's clear that many people feel trapped, unloved, unappreciated. For them I wish I had some sage advice. I wish I had some prescription for fixing what's wrong. But I don't. And I don't really know what we've done right, if anything at all.
My mother predicted several times that our marriage would fail. First because I moved in with him after one date and three weeks of phone conversation. You laugh, but for someone who had previously been in a relationship based mostly upon my willingness to sit through one sporting event after another, during which of course, conversation was strongly discouraged, and communication took the form of paleolithic grunts and gestures, intelligent discourse can be damn near erotic. The first time he demonstrated the capacity for abstract thought, the earth moved for me. Nevertheless, my mother worried that he could be some kind of sexual deviant or homicidal maniac. I suppose he certainly could have been, but I was not in a hurry to condemn someone who moved like he did on the dance floor. You know what they say about men who can dance. It's true.
Still, neither of those things are that upon which one can base a successful marriage. And, truth be told, I did not enter into a living arrangement with him with any intention to marry. Rather, it was a not unpleasant way to extricate myself from my current living situation which had become unpleasant and nigh unto unbearable due to the volatile relationship between my roommate and her significant other. I had become so accomstomed to being awakened by the sound of breaking glass and shouted obscenities that I often just yawned and rolled over. The one time I did venture out to inquire as to her safety, I was greeted with a resentful glare from her and silent, but smoldering malevolence from him. Gee, you're welcome. No really, I habitually wake at 3:30 am anyway.
Too many mornings I would stumble from bed barely conscious after enduring the maelstrom well into the wee hours. My work and my appearance began to suffer. I had dark circles that no amount of concealer could cover. I grew exceedingly weary of the drama, but since the house we rented jointly belonged to her mother, I couldn't ask her to leave. You can see why shacking up with a potential serial killer was the more attractive option. The day he showed up with a borrowed pick-up and declared "You're coming with me. Tonight." I not only didn't resist, I was swept away by his masterful gallantry.
So I moved in with him and six months later, on Valentine's Day, he proposed. I think every young unmarried woman has fantasized about how she would one day be proposed to on bended knee. This proposal was all that and more. It was romantic, and clever, and completely unexpected. I wept, and I eagerly accepted, having determined round about the third month of co-habitation that I had somehow managed to stumble onto a really terriffic guy. Six months after that, we married, and eighteen months later we became parents. Another factor in my decision to keep him was that his eyes didn't glaze over when I mentioned that I wanted children. Six children, no less. He didn't flinch even a little.
Suddenly, thirteen years have passed and a mere two children are growing impossibly fast. And I can only say that I don't know when we would have had time to get divorced. Marriage isn't easy, nor is raising children, and I'm sure we both had moments where we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. But those moments were fleeting, and quickly swallowed up the joy, the responsiblity, and the incredible busyness of our life together. We simply didn't have time to stay mad at each other. A sick baby, a seemingly impossibly tight budget, job stress...these were times that drew us together in desperate unity rather than driving us apart. We sought comfort from one another rather somewhere to lay blame.
We have a strong relationship, but like any other married couple, we have our issues. However, they seem to be mostly of the sort that after good night's sleep and the fresh perspective that comes with the dawn of a new day, don't seem worth the time or effort it takes to sustain a prolonged argument. Neither of us is the type for whom an admission of wrongdoing or oversensitivity is fundamentally compromising or discommodious. And often, there isn't even a spoken truce, just a smile and kiss, which we've both come to recognize and accept as the implict "I'm sorry I was an ass/bitch."
So, despite our haste, it turns out we're a well-matched pair. He is patient where I am a high strung. He is blythe and easygoing where I am a worrier. He pays the bills because I have no head for numbers...I keep house and manage our schedule of endless obligations because he is not an organizer. He is a fun loving Dad, I am a somewhat reserved Mom. He keeps me from being too serious, I make him act like a grown-up sometimes. He helps the offspring with Math, Science, and Technology. I am pretty useful with English, History, and Social Studies. Yes, he drives me completely nuts sometimes, and I him, but we truly like and respect one another. I consider him my best friend. I miss him when he's gone. I seek his advice when I have a problem.
I occasionally fantasize about Vin Diesel (I know, he's not the brightest paint in the pallette, but I don't want to converse
with the man) and I know of a couple actresses that strike my husband's fancy. I think his current is Andie McDowell. Not a bad choice really. But I wonder if the brawny Mr. Diesel would sit up all night with a sick baby so I could get some sleep. I wonder if he would bring me ice-packs and keep the kids outside all day when I have a migraine. I wonder if he would possess the uncanny awareness of exactly when I have reached my whining saturation point and suggest with just the right amount of concern and not even a hint of accusation, that perhaps I might like an afternoon by myself and not to worry about how much I spend.
I would like to think that the success of our marriage is due to hard work and committment, and some preternatural understanding of marital dynamics. I would like to say that I made exceptionally good choices in my quest for a life partner and to be fair, there were certain prerequisites that I adhered to. But really, I think we have just been extremely lucky. No job loss, no family tragedy, no ruinous financial woes, no betrayal. We have never really been tested as so many couples are. And yet, after thirteen years I have to think we have what it takes to weather such a storm. I suppose time will tell.
So here's to another thirteen years. I may have to reevaluate when we become empty nesters. The discovery that one cannot stand one's spouse after the children have departed seems quite common. But somehow I doubt that will happen. I think we'll be sunning ourselves on some Meditarranean nudist beach, letting it all hang out, blind to the wrinkles and the flab, and planning our next post-parental, mid-lfe adventure. I can't wait. If you've seen the movie "The Notebook"...that's how I picture things ending... ...If our luck holds.
(Dedicated to my wonderful husband, who has done more than his share of repenting)