Monday, July 20, 2009
With This String...
So today is my 7th anniversary.
7 years of blissful married confusion. Oh, what a 7 years it has been.
Never fear, I'm not going to give you a play-by-play of our years together. It reads predictably the same anyways, something like this: 1. something bad happens 2. we band together and make it through 3. we relax and then yell at each other 4. something bad happens again 5. we make up and band together...etc.
But these are the moments, as the Folgers instant coffee song used to melodically claim.
I've heard that the seventh year (the one I just completed) is the very hardest year of married life. I've heard this from married people, single persons, men, women, man children, girls who wear too much eyeliner.
Who started this rumor?
I can't say that I disagree with it, but I also can't agree. Until I have some 60-odd years under my belt (a thought that makes the mental eye go blind) I don't know that I can claim the 7th inning to be the hardest.
On one hand, I think that married life gets easier as you go along. Easier because, as time passes, you worry less and less about the impression you are making on your spouse. You used to politely light a candle when they emerged victorious and red faced from their 63 minute appointment with the only bathroom in the apartment. Now you just give them a look of utter loathing and ask them why in the name of all that is holy and good can they not add more fiber to their diet.
I used to use psychologist-friendly conflict resolution words. Now I yell a choice word or two and raise my fists triumphantly in the air to make my point known. And I don't even care.
Then again, married life gets harder as you go along. We know that the honeymoon phase doesn't last long, and let's be honest....THANK GOD because WHAT WOMAN wants to be on their honeymoon for that long? But the phase of making sure your legs are super smooth and eyebrows mowed perfectly in line is really short. Maybe marriage would be a tad more exciting if I still got nervous every time I had to get ready for a date? Perhaps every day would seem daring if I tried to make some sort of souffle for dinner or planned for us to go horseback riding through a field of daisies?
You can see it from both sides, though. The 'marriage gets easier' camp has some good points, as does the 'marriage sucks more'.
There's good and bad, black and white, yada yada, yin and yang. I really love that Austin isn't such a chauvinist git anymore. But I miss my stomach lurching when he looked at me from across the room.
I miss the conversations of pre-marriage. Austin and I are both talkers. Big, opinionated, gesturing talkers who always have something to debate. We really did spend most of our dates in a restaurant booth debating about the history of Christianity, the moral dilemma of King Arthur, and the soul cleansing melodies of various garage bands. I'm pretty sure my parents won't believe that, but all I can say is that passioned talking really does steam up those Jeep windows, yeah?
I think what I love the best about Austin is that he is a talker. He fights me. I know, lovers not fighters. Whatever.
We can get really worked up about something as lame as ketchup versus mustard, and no doubt I'll bring in some reference to a 16th century monarch, and he the blasted history of some root word in Latin. But this keeps us going, you know?
As of late, I'm going to admit that I find it hard to believe that there is anything we haven't talked about or opinions we don't already know. I KNOW how sad he felt when he was wrongly accused of cheating in seventh grade. I know the name of his first dog, have seen the pictures. He has heard the sob story of my parents forgetting my 13th birthday so much that he now rolls his eyes with the rest of the family when I tearfully bring it up. Knowing so much of each other is both reassuring and depressing.
So back to that issue of marriage being harder and yet easier as you add more years to your bliss.
The thing is, it is just so hard to say whether or not you did the right thing at the right time with the right person. Even if you feel that you got one of those right...what about the others? Should I have waited a bit longer, not been a child bride unable to buy her own wine at dinner? Would I have more to talk about tonight at dinner if I had some hidden cherished memories of backpacking through the Alps? Or would I have even made it to the Alps? Perhaps I would have wasted away, continuing to wear black and serve the world's best lattes. I just don't know.
My supremely enlightened state of being has led me to understand that it is really, really important to maintain a sense of self after you marry. I think that newlyweds jump in and spend that first set of months completely enamored with one another, memorizing every back freckle and the sight of each other in the morning. And then they emerge and get back to life with their separate and shared friends, separate and shared adventures, separate and shared purchases of things they will both share...and not.
Some of us, however, have heard that the 'two become one'. And though this is lovely, and true...it gets a little muddled in our (my) brains and we might become fembots. We might expect our spouse to make us totally and supremely happy because he is THE ONE and we don't really need anything in life but to hear him breathing. And then...years later...we emerge totally confused and pissed off and desperately wanting to own our own house in Germany and wear lederhosen while a Venetian harpist plucks unicorn hair affixed to golden instruments. Just so we can feel different and mysterious again. Just for a little bit.
I know, I know. This is why we shouldn't get married at the ripe age of 20. But I did. And now I'm 27, celebrating my 7th anniversary.
This sounds sad, as if I'm sorry about my choice. But that isn't really it at all. I do wish someone had told me that it was ok to leave your new spouse at home while you got your toes painted with the girls and laughed at stupid things men do. I wish I would have framed my newly married years a bit different. But that is, as they say, water under the bridge. Enough water to drown in, but under the bridge nevertheless.
I've been overall happier in the last few years of marriage. And it isn't because we get along better, have more money or fight less. I just stopped being so concerned, trying to make it all work, trying to make it all fit together. I'm still plenty stressed about finding a daycare for Sabra, being a good and patient mother to Moira, and being a pastor's wife that cannot for anything in the world stop from swearing on an almost hourly basis.
Does that make sense? Maybe there just wasn't enough stress to go around, and marriage got cut from the short list of things that keep me up at night. Good heavens, this sounds bad.
LOOK! SOMETHING SHINY!!!
So my loving spouse is dropping off the children with a friend who is not afraid to administer swift punishment to my glittering children, and also has a well worn path from her front door to Vanderbilt's ER. I can breathe easy. He made reservations somewhere lovely (without those red plastic booths of dating bygone days) and I'm going to eat chocolate. It will be lovely.
And I'm really not trying to be ironic when I say that I actually am nervous. All of a sudden, and I don't know why. I know that we'll be going home together when the date is done. Baring something really, really unexpected that is. But I guess that even after seven years, and maybe even after sixty, you want to know that they are still glad they chose you. (And you want to be glad you chose them!) You want them to be proud when you walk down the stairs to the car, even if the time is gone when a stomach lurches and hearts race.
And for me, most of all...I want to talk. I want there to be something totally new to talk about. I don't know what I'll say that I haven't covered yet. Something good I hope. Maybe unicorn strings and lederhosen.
Happy Anniversary, Austin! I can still beat you in an arguement about condiments, and I'm still proud of you in a crowded room. I don't revere your back freckles. In fact, I don't even know if you have any.