Marriage is not a straight line. It’s more like a super advanced dot-to-dot and you’re not privy to the picture till you finish all the connecting. But when you’re in the thick of it, that once simple dot to dot feels like decoding a 10 page cryptogram.
Last year, my sweet cousin, little Dave asked me to be a reader at his wedding. I was floored, literally, I hit the floor. Inner voice suggesting: Shouldn’t you know a little something about being married to represent it in a church? I thought maybe I should be transparent and tell him I haven’t a clue and that he might want to pick someone with a better handle on the thing. But I was so excited and honored and humbled that “Absolutely, I will read the snot out of that scripture” was pretty much my response.
And then he sent me the verse. “Love is patient. Love is kind…” Sing along with me. It’s the quintessential reading for a marriage. But here’s where I fall off. I’m just not convinced the wedding day is the place you need that precious reminder. You need that sucker to drop down like a life navigation bar on day 906, 2,231-39 and maybe all of the 4,000’s (which is about where I’m at so I try to speak only that which I’ve experienced). And so of course because I can’t help but put my two cents in, I stepped up to the altar and proceeded to give a pre-reading commentary, much to the chagrin of the Priest, on how the road is muddy and windy and the hills will make you tired so just remember to keep coming back to these words as your guide. Yadda Yadda. And as much as I said it for not so little Dave and his lovely Jessica, I was saying it in hopes I would hear it myself in front of God and all these witnesses.
There’s a part of me that thinks the reading isn’t actually for the two people getting married. It’s a Jedi mind trick meant for the way past honeymooners seated in rows 1 through to the parking lot. My husband and I are 11 and a half years, 4 kids with all their kid happenings, 2 full and 3 part-time/seasonal jobs and one fat mortgage in. It’s been really good and it’s not been patient, not been kind. It wasn’t patient or kind like 5 minutes ago. In fact, sometimes it is U.G.L.Y, we ain’t got no alibi.
I don’t see marriage as a job. I think it is a privilege but it’s really hard work. Often gritty, cleaning under the fridge kind of work. And like cleaning under the fridge work… you can put it off or neglect it all together. Seriously, when was the last time you cleaned under/behind the fridge? We’ve had good years with a lot of bad days. We’ve had good days within bad seasons… and sometimes they’ve felt like hockey seasons and those things last forever. It’s fun and frustrating, happy and heavy, gratifying and “Go get your own damn water and stop drinking all of mine!” which is so crazy because I’m a really good sharer. Marriage, I’ve come to learn, can bring out some straight up cray cray in you.
(This next line and only the next line is to be read as if you’re doing a cover for Justin Timberlake)
It’s like it’s a mirror. (Continue reading as yourself) And it reflects back at you all your own stuff – good or bad depending on what you decide to focus on. When I look in a real mirror I tend to zero in on that ‘one’ area I don’t like (okay, 3 areas and once a month it’s like 6) and I can really get myself into a funk. I’ll swear off mirrors or cry… kidding… ok, not kidding, mirrors can make me cry. Unfortunately, I can look at my marriage like that too and only see the parts that send me spinning. I had no idea I could get so annoyed by bowls facing up or knives not pointing down in the dishwasher or leaving the pantry, dresser drawers, kitchen cabinets or anything with a hinge on it open. For the love of Pete, close. the. dang. door. And sometimes I can make majors out of the minors. My mirror helps me see that. We’ve had some majors too and they’ve been great teachers of forgiveness and acceptance.
Also, when I look into a real mirror, I often (always) forget to look at my heart that loves to give, my eyes that enjoy seeing the best in people or my attempts to disarm smile. The good parts. I also forget sometimes to see my husband’s uncanny ability to look at me and my children with fresh eyes -no matter how crappy we were to him the day before. I forget to see that he is so generous with his care for me and that even if he goes to bed before me, when I come to bed he’ll wake just long enough to tell me he loves me. I forget to see how the pieces that drew me to him in the first place are still there just layered with other life stuff. Kind of like my stomach after the twins. And like my stomach, life stuff will jack you up. The getting from dot to dot is a little more arduous. It’s not as easy as it was when we were a carefree, “what would you like to do tonight”, two man banding it.
And as much as I believe in marriage, it doesn’t mean I don’t believe in divorce. (The double negatives always screw me up but I feel weird saying “I believe in divorce.”) My parents are divorced and it’s funny but I may be one of those rare people who didn’t wish and hope they’d get back together. It didn’t work for them. Their dot to dots weren’t on the same page. And even despite the individual and collective pain of it not working out, my mom constantly and consistently says that she never regretted getting married because she got 3 great kids out of the deal. She chose to see the best parts of that mirror and run with it.
But mirrors are tricky. Some mirrors lie. They do. Bastards. And it’s wrong and it can literally ruin you. Period. Harsh things can be felt and said after a lying mirror moment. But crazy enough mirrors kick us into gear and reveal the parts of us we want to change and how we want to evolve even if it means not standing in front of that mirror anymore. Mirrors can make me flat out crazy. But I still love the one I get to look at…but really the knives in the dishwasher – we need to start tracking on this one please. Please is kind, right? And I’m sure patient is right around the corner. I’m busting out a little Windex for my mirror and going to keep pushing to the next dot. I could probably use another wedding soon too… So who wants to get hitched?
Hugs and Love,