Tag: marriage

What Marriage Needs

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I’ve been in love with my husband for fifteen years. This past August we celebrated seven years of marriage. He is the ying to my yang, calming force, and favorite partner-in-crime. Our history is worth sharing.

I met him in college.  Our love story begins in a crowded and dark fraternity house basement near a keg of Keystone Light. He sported ugly red Adidas sneakers, a God-awful bright yellow Northface jacket, two silver studs in his ears, and a mischievous smile. For me, it was love at first sight.

Those fashion remarks are what happens when I look back upon our initial interactions fifteen years later. Sarcasm aside, he wore all the things one would wear in 2003. Plus, he wore them well. And at that moment, and even now, I recall his powerful presence.

From early on it was clear we were different. But our differences elevated and encouraged one another. Together, we marched through our twenties.

But if I could tell my sorority-self one thing fifteen years ago it would be this: remember.

It’s entirely too easy to forget our beginning.

Currently, we’re in the hamster wheel. We’re running, spinning throughout our day, changing diapers, teaching manners, working hard, demonstrating good teeth brushing, preaching kindness, encouraging effort, and everything else under the blistering sun known as parenthood. And while we sit down to talk, swap stories of napless preschoolers or stubborn toddlers, relay random encounters, or dabble in heavy real-world debates and dilemmas, we’re tired. Sometimes in our exhaustive states, we forget about the keg of Keystone.

Why is the beginning so important? Because when we lose sight of where we started, where we are doesn’t mean as much, and where we’re going is void of inspiration.

We had a big argument yesterday. We were tired from a long day and weary from an even longer week. And we had forgotten to do the thing all marriages need, which is to remember.

This phase of life is every emotion and then some rolled into magic, mystery, and mayhem.

But I’m taking us back to that fraternity basement. We remember. Now, we refresh.

Before Cupid invades us with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, long-stemmed red roses, or overpriced greeting cards, remember. It’s the key to happily ever after.

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38

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I am a perpetual daydreamer. I’ve got grand plans and big intentions. But this emotional, over-the-top, head-in-the-clouds fantasizer gets stuck. I freeze up out of fear or distract myself with busyness that’s unimportant. It’s been my burden for the past several years. And while I’d love to blame someone or something, I’ve got nothing. It’s me.

Enter my husband.

My marriage is full of love, compassion, and friendship, but there’s also sarcasm, competitiveness, and candor. My accountability partner in crime keeps it real. In fact, it’s often too real for my liking.

I’ve been talking about being a full-fledged writer and entrepreneur since he met me. In fact, he tells friends that I’m the long-term success strategy. He’s full of brutal logic and endless love. It’s an interesting combination.  The other night he reminded me that there’s been little progress in my projects. We danced the talk-it-out tango, which means I possessed a defensive flare and he demonstrated strong-willed sentiment. In essence, it boils down to action and accountability.

He’s my truth-teller.

I don’t envy him. I’m initially unreceptive and offended. But with time I come around to see his side. I know I need to do more and perform better. I need something tangible to keep me sane and firmly focused.

The book will be done and distributed by 38. That’s the vision and reaction to the challenge. I turn 37 in January. It might look like I’ve given myself the gift of time, but the book will need to be finished by February in order to get pitched to the masses this spring.

Dearest, this one isn’t for you. It’s for me. But thanks for never giving up on me. This thing we have is fearless.

For Better or For Worse

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Yesterday was my seventh wedding anniversary. If time and interest allowed, I’d write a series of essays on how much my marriage means to me and the endless love I have for my husband. But I know like most matters of the heart, it’s personally appealing because of experience and investment. With this noted, I’ll spare you sonnets.

For our wedding day we hired a husband and wife photography team to capture the intimate moments of the ceremony and reception. Their work was artistic and flawless and their energy was contagious. I remember being awed by their talent and teamwork. The latter was incredibly impressive. Knowing that not all partners could work together so well, or at all, I was obsessed with observing their dynamics and felt compelled to soak up their presence.

I remember thinking it was an omen of sorts to have such a dynamic duo attached to our wedding. In fact, I remember thinking that their love story was a sign of ours.

A few days ago I decided to visit their website to see if I could stop by while visiting my parents. Much to my dismay it looked as if their business was no longer operational. After some intense social media stalking and keyword searches, I learned they were no longer married. Cue knife to the heart.

The news gutted me. This inspiring, sweet, and kind couple was no more.

And while I shed a few tears, I came to realize I knew nothing of their history or status, even when I was basking in bliss. Their marriage and/or the demise of it wasn’t something I was or would ever be acutely aware of, but it did offer me a greater sense of perception and change.

Our surface perceptions often demand deeper exploration or consideration.  And we need to resign that regardless of our perceptions, certain changes are inevitable or necessary. It’s never easy to see a marriage end, especially one we admired from afar. But if the news is going to stir up something in our souls, then let it be a reminder to invest in the person you decided was worthy of forever.

For the record, I’m over the moon in love with my husband. And because I social media stalked, let me state that from the surface, it looks like my photographers have moved on and reclaimed some happiness as well. But that’s only my perception and things can change. So for now I’m off to relish that I’m all in. And for better or worse I hope we all remember that things change quickly and sometimes dramatically. So carpe diem and love with everything you’ve got.

 

Roots

Scan 2Second to having his children, falling in love with my husband has been the greatest thrill of my life. And while I always expected finding my forever would exceed any and all expectations, I never imagined it could crush the classics that comprised my literary circle of comfort and companionship. See, I didn’t just read the classics, I consumed them. I prided myself on the intimate relationships within the pages, and I desperately dreamed of coming close to the emotions and experiences the characters encountered.

We look for love in books, movies, music, and plays. We seek it out as hungry fools and quench our thirst with its distractions and dividends. As it should, it fills our hearts with deeper dreams, better standards, and finer realities than the surrounding world itself.

But as much as I loved Anna Karenina, swooned over Mr. Darcy, or wept at the tragedy of  Romeo and Juliet’s fate, no love story could ever come close to Norma and Jim’s. Their devotion and sacrifice are second to none, and I owe my story to them.

Long before Nicholas Sparks penned The Notebook and Hollywood came a calling for its rights, I knew a love that transcended time, defied doctors, exuded grit, manifested generosity, and saturated itself in respect. For 69 years, my grandparents loved one another as honestly and loyally as the human heart allowed.  Their relationship was and remains the gold star standard for what I expect and demand out of love.

When I was in middle school I’d occasionally be picked up from school by my grandpa and spend an afternoon with my grandparents.

One afternoon, while in their living room, my grandma collapsed. My grandpa instructed me to call 911, which I did, and he instinctively knelt down by her side. As I made the call and spoke to the operator, my focus split.

My grandpa was mesmerizing. His tone was soft. His pitch and poise were perfect. But, what was he saying?

A prior stroke had rendered my grandma with aphasia. She was unable to accurately express herself. She was on the floor, curled up in visible pain, as my grandpa stroked her hair. “I’m here, Norma,” he said. “It’s okay, hun. I’m here. Look at me, Norma Lee. I’m right here. You’re with me. We’re okay. Listen, Norma. I’m here.”

She was fixated on him. Her eyes were locked on his and she relaxed at his touch. He smiled reassuringly. He didn’t take his eyes off her, even when the paramedics entered the room.

In that moment of panic, he was her peace.

Grandma lived for years after that, as did grandpa, but that day is etched in my memory. It was the day that I learned love has its own language. He could hear her, even if she couldn’t speak. She saw him and found focus.

This past October we lost grandpa. My grandma was beside him. She held his hand until the very end. We buried him on a Saturday morning. One week later, we buried grandma.

Their life and story are so much richer than I’m able to adequately express. Inseparable and unbreakable, they anchored one another.

After my grandparents died I spent a lot of time thinking about their story. Prior to their loss, I had been seeking something new and different. It was during a fika that I shared the idea for Fishing for Fika with my husband. In a quick moment, I locked eyes with him. I saw his assurance and felt his endorsement. With a slow nod and a smile, I knew our conversation had begun. And with no words spoken, a thrill, power, and possibility were all gifted to me. So here I am, rooted in love.