June 4, 2012 § 3 Comments
This subject has been coming up a lot lately. We’ve had another round of weddings, which I love. I just love love. There have been showers… Etc.
I am kind of off my game though, I am more in the baby game. This return to the wedding thing started with an epically embarrassing (even for me) rambling and OVERLY long (even for me) toast at a rehearsal dinner in Austin (new mercies every morning people – move on), a stunning and richly meaningful wedding the next night with one of the most powerful father of the bride moments I have ever witnessed at a wedding (think ugly cry kind of moving), I shot the wedding of some life long family friends the next weekend – an evening of fun I wished would never end – (being with AM&UK’s friends is like walking on clouds and I never want those nights to end, being able to do that with Justin was the ultimate in cloud walking, I am so incredibly proud to be his partner in life) – we danced the night a way and their love is beautiful and wonderful and all things lovely, my cousin got married in a perfect courthouse ceremony that I attended via texted photos (and cried the entire day), and we have recently been met by a mailbox stuffed with save the dates and shower invitations. In an era of life where most of my friends are birthing children this has been such an unexpected second wind, and a nice refresher for Justin’s and my relationship.
In total contrast, we have also seen some friends hit some real lows. Met with news of divorce, separations, painful struggle, and even the continued loneliness of some dear friends who are single. We have been reminded that While love is powerful, moving, and brings feeling of euphoria like little else in the world, it can also be the most gut-wrenching and painful thing in life. Even this morning as I offered thoughts and prayers for some specific situations different friends are in I thought about partnership and marriage.
Last Memorial Day some dear friends came in and we had been married one year and we were full of thoughts and advice.
This Memorial Day I am not sure I would offer much advice. This is what I think I am starting to learn about relationships, marriage, and partnership. There are some deep and abiding principles – but for the most part – they are incredibly individual and unique and you must simply sort it out for yourself. Yes, look at – even go to – couples you admire, relationships you respect, and ask, seek to learn what their “magic” is, but I honestly believe that each relationship will have a magic all its own. Unique, that could not be reproduced in another relationship. It’s what is so breathtaking about love. When you look at a couple it is their je ne sais quoi that touches you in that deep way, and moves you, that compels you to say, “Wow, they are really in love.” I believe that this is the THE POINT of love, its UNIQUENESS, it’s HOLINESS (unlike ANYTHING ELSE), our love for people and each other is individual and incomparable and therefore marriages and partnerships are going to be the same way. Why would they be, by principle and purpose, any different?
All this to say, in an imperfect relationship, as the MORE imperfect person, and the one who is probably the ROOT of most conflict, on a morning where I am more aware than ever how incredibly thankful I am for a partner in life that loves me enough to unpack my baggage with me instead of send me packing with my baggage… Here are some of the things I think I am starting to figure out, should they be helpful to you.
Marriage is not a point of arrival. It is a mile marker on a long, long, long journey. In the drive from Austin to San Diego – marriage is El Paso, or maybe even Clayton, NM. The point being if you are in a big fat hurry to GET there, you are going to be sorely disappointed, because there is a still a long, long, part of the journey to go. And many of those miles, someone has to sleep and someone has to drive – and in these moments the drive is not that different than when you were making it as one person.
Love is a bit like a garden, it requires more than watering, it must be tended to. We live next to an old cemetery and it’s a little like living next to a rain forrest or a jungle. That’s probably how Justin felt marrying a 33 year old. I want to go out and plant my plants and let the wet New England spring grow my cabbage and my cauliflower. However, what I have found is that there are these horrific tulip looking leaves that grow up in my plant beds, and when I go to pull them the leaves snap off in my hands. So I finally dug in with some gardening tools and found that these little leaves are connectes to bulbous roots, as many as 15 to 20 strong that are literally running throughout my garden. Every few days I have to go out and attack them bit by bit. I could never get them at one time, there are simply too many and they have been here too long. I can’t just leave them or they would take over. I can only get them as they come up. And I HAVE to get them as they come up – OR ELSE. There is no need to expound. These little weeds are in our relationships, there is no way around it, they have bulbous roots. We either take the time to deal with them or we do not. Sometimes we need to do it together, sometimes we need to weed our own hearts, but we MUST tend to our emotional gardens consistently – OR ELSE.
My spouse is ALWAYS right. When we get home, this may be a different story, and there may be a conversation to be had regarding the way one or the other of us felt about something, but to the rest of the world, we are a united front. I will defend this man to the death, and it is mine alone to pick out his faults (and only to him, and only with tender, careful, caution.) In a public arena it is important that my spouse knows I have his back at all times, and there is never a question about this. I think this is actually one thing that all serious relationships should have.
Every story is different, there is no right way. Some people date for 20 days, some people for 20 years. Some people never kiss… Some people kiss before they date. It’s easy to say that this is the way. There is no right way. This is something that you and your significant other have to work out together, and that you have to be able to live with with yourselves when your head hits the pillow at night. Someone was telling me Saturday that she and her husband had a broken engagement and when they got back together people said it would never work, they are happily married now and the parents of a VERY happy 19 month old golden-doodle. They are a couple of a certain faith and they allowed their faith to guide them through their journey instead of conventional wisdom, it was the right thing for them. YOU HAVE TO DO THIS. Justin and I continually said that we had to ‘answer to God’ for ourselves, not for other people, and so we did not take the decision to ‘re-meet’ and marry in 9 months lightly. Conventional wisdom said NO, it was the right thing for us, it won’t be the right thing for everyone and we couldn’t even ADVISE people on it, because EVERY situation is unique.
Fight to Stay in Love. Our Liz sent us the poster that says this that hangs on the only wall that we can see from our bed. It is there for a reason. It is one of my most treasured items. Love is not easy or simple. And love is not something that just naturally regenerates. Love must be nurtured. How love is nurtured in another person happens very uniquely in that person and the ability to go in and root that out is the very thing that makes love come alive. Embarking on our third year of marriage we have renewed our commitment to fight. This morning I am literally tearfully urgent about this, and feel compelled to encourage each of you whether you are married, single, widowed, divorced, separated, dating, or simply the parent of a cat… Fight to love someone in your life today. Love is an act, a practice, it is an emotion that results in action and today let’s fight to stay in love. This is where only you can know what that means for the people that you love, but today, let’s all fight for the one’s that we love. Love is a rare and wonderful thing, no matter what form it takes in our lives, and today I hope that we will all be warriors of love for one another.