I’ve been trying to find words to explain where we find ourselves on our 14th wedding anniversary this year, what the state of our marriage is this far in….but all I keep coming up with are loud mouth fart noises. I wasn’t sure how to spell them, so it was a relief when Robb posted this on the facebooks yesterday. He more sweetly and eloquently expressed what I’ve been thinking.
“today marks 14 years of marriage. it has been the most difficult and the most rewarding year of our marriage. this year we have had the kind of deep conflict that most marriages go through, but which i had begun to believe we were immune to having avoided it through geographical relocation, school, career and job changes, and having two children in the preceding 13 years. but we both took steps to make ourselves better people (for those that know us both well it’s no surprise that i had more work to do than she did), and we put significant effort into making our marriage more healthy and relevant. we talked about it. we talked about how we talk. and then we talked some more. i’m excited to begin year 15 with the only person who exhausts the superlatives i can use to describe love, trust, joy, struggle, and accomplishment.”
I know, right? Isn’t that lovely and honest and generous? I didn’t even add the self-deprecating or complimentary parts- that was all him. It made me cry at work. Bastard.
I don’t have much to add, since he worded so good here. I will say that I now understand when people say they “grew apart” and how hard it is to stay married long-term. Even without the devastation of addiction or infidelity or abuse, and having all the resources that we have, it’s hard to stay married. We’ve fought a lot over the past year- I guess we fight because we both still care? That has to be a good sign that we’re not giving up on this union. We’re still working our way through it, even when we want to just punch it in the throat.
I think marriage by design is kind of an insane ask of two people. I don’t regret it, and I don’t discourage people from doing it, and we’re fighting for ours. But I think it’s OK to acknowledge that it’s totally bonkers. I mean, just being a person is hard, each of us is a constant flux, with periods of growth and stagnation and falling and rising and learning hard lessons and taking risks and rebounding or changing course….it’s not linear, and it is challenging. So, when two people are doing that simultaneously, it’s so easy for them to veer in different directions or be in different phases of the process, or to not like/understand where the other person’s process is taking them. I get how you could not recognize the person you married, because either you’ve changed so much you’re looking out of different eyes or they’ve changed or remained in ways you don’t understand.
All of this self-reflection and learning is supposed to occur while still managing all the things of work, home, kids. Really. But we’ve learned that you have to! If you put yourself off for too long, you get miserable and sick, so you have to find a way to tend to your internal growth. We’ve been just barely keeping our heads above water with all the life things as it is, and then we added big personal changes on top of it. Oy. Does anyone feel like they’re getting this right? Seriously. If you do, tell me how. I don’t understand being an adult. Should it really be this hard? (Acknowledging now and always, how easy my version of life is, relative to most).
Anyway. We’ve each been working on being brave this year. Being brave means doing scary, stressful things. I started writing a lot and went to therapy, and came out of that with a voice I want heard. It’s great for me, but means testing my newfound confidence, and also higher expectations and demands on those around me, on my marriage. He found enlightenment about job satisfaction and insights about personal and professional growth and made a major career change to do something more in line with his values and hopes for his future. That’s so brave, but so scary, and obviously places certain demands on me.
I guess all that is to say, after 14 years of marriage, I still feel like we’re making it up as we go. We have a basic level of like, love, and respect for each other, and a stubborn commitment to staying married, and we talk. Like he said, we talk. We talk. We talk. It’s not always friendly. Sometimes it’s downright…unfriendly. We try to play by the rules of discourse, but sometimes we fail. Sometimes when we’re trying really hard to listen, the sound of each other’s voice just sounds like PFFFFFFFFBLLEHEPPOO (fart noises).
We laugh when we can.
The biggest luxury of 14 years of marriage is that we’ve been through ups and downs before and so have some reason to believe we’ll pull through this low time. It’s getting better already. We can see some sun through the clouds.
Happy Anniversary to my love, my support, my shithead and frustrator. I promise to not stop talking to you and to listen to at least 40% of your words. I promise I will love you from the me that I am today, in the best way I know how, always authentically.