The True Story of a Seven Year Marriage

I used to scoff at those who simply made it work, couples who lived long and tedious years together even if the fire had died. Life is too short I thought, to spend it with someone who doesn’t kindle your passion.

That was before I knew that passion isn’t something that floats around and lands on you like a lucky butterfly (at least not all the time). It needs to be tended, like a fire in your heart, by breathing life into a spark over and over. You choose where you build your fire, and your heart listens to your choice.

When our turn came to meet and marry, I wondered how we might avoid the boring fate of the uninspired; the settlers who had aimed high and fallen short.

What made us special, more right for each other than the others? We fooled ourselves and listed off the reasons.

Years came and went in a blur of working hard and spinning our wheels. We filled our days with what we thought we had to do, passing each other on our way to office jobs, college classes, cafes where we did our homework.

No one did the dishes, I scarcely remember what we ate, and our tiny apartments never really felt like home.

We were careless with our love, sending out sharp words and criticisms and then rushing out the door to our next obligation. We thought we were building a life for our future. We didn’t see the cracks in what we were building.

A few months before my graduation, we got the best news of our lives. Our little boy was already growing inside of me.

We looked around at the pieces of our life together so far, the noisy apartment by the railroad tracks, the stacks of books and papers, the eighty hour work weeks, the anxiety and stress headaches. We knew it wasn’t what we wanted for our precious child and we dreamed bigger.

Envisioning a garden, a sandbox, a home, we bought a beautiful old yellow house and settled in. We brought home a beautiful, perfect child and hoped to give him the peaceful start he deserved. We didn’t realize how much work we had to do.

Pipes broke, the baby screamed, work piled up, and I grew into a sad and lonely version of myself. My heart sank lower and deeper, knowing this wasn’t what we had hoped for.

We looked to each other for the answers, and only saw more confusion reflected back. “Can you save me?” we asked each other. “I would if I could, but I think I have to save myself.”

We both cried about where we had ended up. We were hoping for a soul mate and found that we barely even knew our own souls, let alone another person’s. Taking a long hard look at the age old question, we dared to ask it and listened for the answer, “could it be that you weren’t the one?”

That question echoed high in the ceilings of our one hundred year old house. It bounced off fir floors where our own babies crawled. We noticed the bare places where the wood had worn and splintered. How many years did the forest grow before it could be cut to make floors that would last beyond a century?

We knew we were sinking fast and that more years spent in battle would only pile up and add more weight until we reached the bottom.

So we put a solid foothold down, somewhere to stand still and look around. The foothold was our commitment to each other, our desire to love the person across the breakfast table.

The question of “one” seemed foolish now and we quickly brushed it aside. We placed that question firmly in a box labeled “myths and lies.” What makes you “the one” is the extent to which your heart belongs with the other person. The one, the two, the three, the four of us. It’s all the same now really: family.

We gained new skills, started owning our feelings, and dared to believe in each other again. Most of all, we started listening and each moment of listening piled up until we could start climbing right up and out of our hole. We added laughter when we could muster it and that made the climbing feel lighter.

We let things go, saw with new eyes, and stood in the other person’s shoes. Most importantly, we stood in our own shoes and examined where we had lost ourselves along the way.

One day I opened my eyes and really saw him again, or maybe for the first time. I saw him pull out his entire tool box to fix a five dollar broken toy train because it meant something to our child. I saw him water fragile seeds in tiny plastic cups, set them by the sunniest window, and then finally plant them in our dirt where he grew them into food. These hands knew how to build things that would last.

This week I sat with our three year old while he worked long and hard on building block towers. He had to come to grips with the laws of physics, that you can’t put a huge block on a tiny foundation and expect it to stand. Each tower crashed and the blocks rattled on the same ancient floors. I held him while he cried and then watched as he bravely tried again.

This is the sum of what I hope he learns about loving another person. Before you can make high towers, it’s best to build a good strong base. It comes from laughter, empathy, forgiveness, accepting the other person’s struggle, and knowing yourself.

But sometimes without knowing it, you build too high and too fast. Things get shaky and start to wobble.

There is alway a way to rebuild if you’re willing. Always new and different blocks to try, always time to take a few steps back and build the bottom stronger.

So these days, I honor the builders. Those who have made high and lofty towers or those still limping along at the base. Those who have built once and decided to start again, and those who have been building for decades, creating a shelter for the rest of us.

To those whose love I dismissed so easily because it didn’t look fulfilling to the untrained eye, I see you now. I see how you walk through days and years of knowing another person, of letting go of who you thought they were and holding on at the same time to who they are and who they will become.

If you’re going through the motions, I see the art in that. I now know how foolish I was to think the motions were boring and uninspired.

Motion brings movement and life when things have gone dry.

You water the dry ground and something grows that surprises you. You sweep the floors and life flows through a room. You bend over hot skillets, and your children eat the food and become strong. You build your life the way you want it, and spirit comes to breath life into what you’ve made with your labor.

I honor you and follow in your solid, shaky footsteps.

Once, on a long evening walk with my friend, I asked her about her own marriage. “Why are you together? What makes your love stick through all the years of change and growth?”

She took a few careful steps over a cracked sidewalk and then laughed her answer. “I’m with him because he’s my home.” Those words echoed in my heart and rang true for my own life. Yes, I’m finally home as well.

20130801-184430.jpg

20130801-184510.jpg

20130801-184648.jpg

20130801-190333.jpg

Advertisements

524 thoughts on “The True Story of a Seven Year Marriage

  1. Pingback: Links | It's Me, Natalie

  2. This is truly inspirational. My bf have only been together a few years and I had begun to think as though we were just living through the motions. This has really helped me see our relationship differently. Thank you!

  3. Stunning. You are so brave to have shared this. Your beautifully written words have touched my heart and to have read your story is so very timely in my own marriage. I will definitely be following your lovely blog.

  4. Pingback: Building Strong Boys: Avoiding Parental Abandonment | Not Just CuteNot Just Cute

  5. Such a powerful, moving read about the importance of staying connected to those we love. Thank you for sharing this process with us. It’s so good to hear the truth about the work and the joy of finding your way as a couple.

  6. I love the beautiful way you articulate commitment. You breathe new life and fresh perspective into a notion that often seems dry, stale, and obligatory. Lovely and insightful words. Thank you.

  7. This resonated with me, as it has with others. If we could time travel and warn our younger selves, though, would we? And would our younger selves listen? Perhaps marriage IS the journey, it’s in the understanding and the willingness to make a strong declaration, place a foothold into the ground. Is the mindful marriage? And would we say yes again had we know this wold be required?

  8. You are blessed dear woman, not only by a lovely man and child, but by yourself for in loving you found you…..I have been married 46 yrs. and I’m still finding out new things about my husband, mostly we survived because he kept me laughing and always guessing what was going to happen next……

  9. Reblogged this on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Play and commented:
    Having just marked our 7 year anniversary, up to our eyeballs in babies and kindergarteners, diapers and school lunches, colds and flus, loans and budgets, often like ships passing in the night with opposite work schedules, this couldn’t have hit closer to home. Anyone else experience this? How long have you been married?

  10. Reblogged on lifeloveandthepursuitofplay.com and commented:

    Thank you for your inspired words! Having just passed 7 years myself, up to our eyeballs with a 4.5 year old and 5 month old while working opposite schedules to make ends meet, this couldn’t have hit closer to home. Thanks for the much needed tears and gentle reminder.

  11. Thank you for this. I needed to read this. My husband needs to read this. I’m afraid to show it to him, but I hope that what I’ve just read can manifest itself in a meaningful way that can be seen by my family. I can make a commitment to myself.

  12. Beautifully said. My husband and I have been together for nearly 24 years but your post took me right back to those early years when the excitement began to wane and we both began to wonder, “Why am I here?” Thankfully that time passed and we moved forward although, I have to say, during our 20+ years there has been a lot of going through the motions. But now, when we are aware of feeling that way, we make a point of finding that connection – even if that connection is simply our mutual (momentary) dislike of our teenagers’ behavior. Whatever it takes.

  13. Thanks for the post. I’m not in a relationship at present, but your words provide inspiration and reality to anyone who seeks an authentic relationship; one where you realize the ‘downs’ come with the ‘ups’ and it’s all just a part of the beautiful, chaotic choreography of life….

  14. thank you for this. i didn’t cry until i saw your pictures, and the story became more real; i could see my (now 14 yr old) boy’s face in the face of yours and all my failure and all my joy. all the stories i would re-write and live over again if i could. thank you.

  15. I can’t believe you found the words you did to describe your 7 years of marriage. It reminded me of my own life so many years ago. The “hard knocks” of life teach us don’t they?

  16. ive been with my husband for over 20 years and i can so relate to what you’ve written. except we’re not connecting. the spark is gone and he doesn’t think i’m fabulous anymore, which makes me miserable. nice to see you are on the right road. good luck. call me in 13 years and we’ll see where you’re at. hopefully even better. it’s tough. one man, one woman., tough.

    • Please excuse what looks like advertising, but we were in the same boat 12 years ago, spent some time in couple therapy and finally went to this workshop: http://www.hollyhock.ca/cms/Robert-Gass-Couples.html with magical results. We’ve now been together 36 years. The stumbling blocks seem to be at 3, 7, and 20 years. I hope there won’t be another one, but if there is, we’ll know where to look for help. I hope you and your husband can work through this. I simply couldn’t face the idea of going through one 20-year relationship after another, never getting it right and finally stopping only because I was dead.

  17. Reblogged this on The Sideways Glass and commented:
    This blog has left a particular mark on my mind/heart. I mean, I am currently considering entering a marriage with my boyfriend and this is the question we ask while sitting on the couch together. “It is great now, but how do we keep the fire burning through years? What if we grow tired?” I think he fears it more than I, but the question still stands. Neither of us were raised in a family where the parents get along great and the idea of a stale marraige leads us to the conclusion that singless would be better than stale marriage. Period.

    But then I see this blog and I think ‘ahh!’, take those blocks and keep building, turn them a different direction or get new blocks all together in order to keep that spark burning.

  18. truly an amazing post! You speak so eloquently of (and for) so many lives out there. I am experiencing a Feel Good moment thanks to your words. I can relate…I have thought these same things, and I appreciate the purposeful, truthful, and compassionate way you present the true story of love and marriage. You help me celebrate the mundane. You are making the world a better place through your words. Thank you! – Theresa, Head of Community Good, Think Good, LLC (and a new follower!)

  19. what a beautiful story! it is so much easier to tear something down than to painstakingly build something worth while… and as I still work toward getting to know mySelf, I sit at the table with my long term relationships and never presume to know them more, than the need to ask who they are that day and what they think? For my single friends that sometimes project I am lucky to have met one of the few knights in shining armour, I suggest, that love is hard work and requires staying in the room… for your courage, honesty, reverence and open heartsong I thank you… you have just added beauty and true love to my day ❤

  20. So beautifully written! Those moments of looking at each other and wondering ‘are you really the one’ are by far the most painful I’ve experienced, and having the courage to tear it all down and start building a strong foundation again is one of the most courageous things I’ve ever done. Thanks for your words. They re-inspire me to keep going.

  21. Thank you for sharing about your beautiful journey, because that’s what marriages are- JOURNEYS. A therapist once told me and my husband of almost 30 years, during a ‘low’ time, that marriage is like a roller coaster. There are high points and low points and there’s a lot of work. But it is SO worth it!!! I know it sounds cliche, but my husband is truly my best friend because we’ve been through hell and back again several times together over the years. We both came from parents who had rocky marriages, so we entered into marriage determined to make things work, no matter what happened. If one of us feels like things aren’t going so great, we point it out and say, “What do we need to do to get back to where we want this to be?”. That’s the key- we have NEVER said the ‘D’ word- it’s simply not an option.

  22. Thank you for sharing. It was wonderful to read. I have been married for 14 years but was with my partner 4 years before we got married. I remember when we decided to get married I looked around seeing couples going through what I thought of as motions as well. I struggled to figure out what would make a marriage successful. I learned it’s those everyday things we call motions that become some of my favourite things. I love how he plays his favourite music every weekend morning, I like our nightly cup of tea after dinner, I like how we settle in chatting a bit before we go to sleep every night. And it’s the things I originally loved about us that are still here today, the laughter we share, our values and our differences that somehow compliment each other in ways that continually amaze me. Thanks for reminding me to live fully.

  23. In those quiet hours that we lay in bed, staring into the darkness with just the sound of our breathing and the dog snoring, I have often whispered to my husband that he feels like home to me. That is truly the best way to put it.

  24. Pingback: What a Conversation About Divorce Taught My Family About Marriage | Not Just CuteNot Just Cute

  25. Wow. what a wonderful story. my wife sent me this a couple months ago and i just now finally took the time to read it. i guess ironically that’s what this story says to me. slow down, take the time. while you still can.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s