Today I have been married for 12 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.
Many people in both our families predicted several times that our marriage would fail. First because I moved in with him after one date essentially. You laugh, but for someone who had previously been in relationships 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 Ross demonstrated the capacity for abstract thought, the earth moved for me. Nevertheless, because he was 10 years my senior, twice divorced, a different religion and already a father...I'm sure 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 in the kitchen. You know what they say about men who can cook.
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 unto unbearable due to the volatile relationship between my then boyfriend and his family whom we had been living with at the time. 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 his safety, I was greeted with a resentful glare from his uncle and silent, but smoldering malevolence from him. Gee, you're welcome. No really, I habitually wake at 3:30 am anyway. (You know, when my parents "forced" me to break up with that guy and move to Waterton to work, I really resented for them at the time....but was that ever a life saving moment in my life. It really NEVER would have worked out with us).
So in Waterton, I met this really great guy, who was a chef, with a really nice car. We "hung out", as there wasn't really much to do in the way of dating up in the mountains. I moved in with him right away....three months later, I got pregnant with our first son. Seven months after that boy was born, on my 21st birthday, he proposed. I think that 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 eagerly accepted, having determined around the third month of co-habitation that I had somehow managed to stumble into a really great guy. And we were married 12 days later. You see, I wasn't going to let him change his mind.
Suddenly, 12 years have passed and 3 children are growing impossibly fast. And I can only say that I don't know when we would have time to get a divorce. Marriage isn't easy, nor is raising children, and I KNOW we've both had moments where we have wondered what the Hell we had gotten ourselves in to. But those moments are fleeting, and quickly swallowed up by the joy, the responsibility and the busyness of our lives together. We simply have never had time to really stay mad at eachother. A sick baby, a seemingly impossibly tight budget, job stress.....those are the things that have drawn us together in desperate unity rather that driving us apart. We try to seek comfort in one another rather than 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 a good nights sleep and the fresh perspective of a new day, don't seem to be worth the effort it takes to sustain a long arguement. Neither of us is really the type for whom an admission of wrongdoing or oversensitivity is fundamentally compromising. 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 implicit, "I'm sorry I was an ass/bitch".
So, despite our haste, it turns out we're a well-matched pair. I am patient where he is 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 boys' schedule of endless obligations because he is not an organizer and works really hard at holding down TWO jobs to help support his family. He is a fun loving Dad, I am a somewhat reserved Mom. We keep eachother from being too serious; but make eachother act like a grown-up sometimes. He can help 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 The Rock (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. But I wonder if the brawny Mr. Rock would sit up all night with a sick baby so I could get some sleep. I wonder if he would bring me ice cream 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 hour by myself.
I would like to think that the success of our marriage is due to hard work and committment, and some understanding of marital dynamics. I would like to say that I made exceptionally good choices in my quest for a life partner. But really, I think we have just been extremely lucky. We've been through job loss, family tragedy, and financial woes. And after 12 years I have to think we have what it takes to weather any such a storm that we are faced with. I suppose time will tell.
So here's to another twelve 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. -- OK, maybe not.....more likely we will be able to maybe do a little travelling in the midst of being in the throes of grandparenthood. I can't wait.
**Dedicated to my wonderful husband***