Tuesday, June 14, 2011

State of the Union: Notes from the Second Time Around

I suppose if I'm going to talk about this union, I have to talk about the one that came before. And all the ridiculousness that led up to it. Starting somewhere around age eighteen, I had a total of six marriage proposals. This used to impress the heck out of my friends. It didn’t do much for me. I didn't find myself until I was about twenty-seven or twenty-eight, so in the beginning, I floated along with my engagements like I floated along with most other things in my life. Number five finally stuck - the former best friend of number four. I actually married that one, and thought it was IT. We had THE BIG WEDDING with THE BIG DRESS and THE BIG WEDDING PARTY and THE BIG CAKE and all that hoo hah.

In the end, the big IT turned out to be a big disaster of epic proportions, and I left the union with enough disillusion about men, marriage, and monogamy to sink whatever hopes might have survived another story. I went through the cycles of grief, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and at least three Borders-sized shelves of self-help books. And then just when I was finding my balance and setting my course again, he showed up.

Of course he would. He had no idea I was determined to be uninterested or unavailable. He just showed up. And that was the beginning. There were so many "I will not's" that I broke without thinking about it. I will not date anyone from work. I will not date anyone younger than me. I will not date blondes (don't even ask). But I did. I did a lot of other things too. And before I knew it, there was another toothbrush in my bathroom and a man to deal with again.

I was, of course, skeptical, critical, and pessimistic about any long-term results. I made that clear right from the get-go. This relationship was going to be about fun, hanging out, movies, and nothing more. Before our first date, I explained in detail about the big disaster and why I would never have another long-term relationship. He took it in stride, although he has since told me that he wasn't really listening, because as far as he was concerned, I was the big IT for him. I'm really glad I didn’t know that then.

This relationship is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the most amazing things on the planet - excluding long-distance phone calls, post-it notes, and instant messaging. It is perfect. And before you gag and fall off your ergonomically balanced chair, understand that I'm not talking about perfect in the sense of Barbie's Cinderella land. Perfect in the sense that I found the elusive thing called a soul mate. Best friend. Life companion. Whatever. I have found the right other half of me that fits in a Jerry-Maguire-way-too-famous-line kind of way. I love him to death and he makes me crazier than anyone I know. No one I know can lose time like him. No one can make excuses like him. And no one else has ever cleaned the bathroom with my toothbrush and then put it back in the holder. But on the flip side, no one else I know can make me laugh like he does. No one listens with such impressive objectivity. No one else has the patience it takes to be with me. And no one - not even my parents - loves me like he does.

We have survived battles with parents, custody wars, unemployment, and near death. We have been stretched and pulled and pressed in more directions than I care to think about. And through it all, though we have yelled and glared and sat in stony silence, we have stayed together. And we are stronger for it.

In the beginning, I would have told you that love is enough. Period. After that, I would have told you that not even love is enough. Period. Now, I can tell you that love - when love is a verb hitchhiking around with a thesaurus that includes words like passion, commitment, communication, determination, laughter, and a bunch of other good ones - is truly enough. Period. At least in our union.

Notes from the continuing journey: There is no date on my original manuscript, which I only have in hard copy (and lose from time to time, much to my anguish and chagrin). I think I remember writing this sometime before we started trying to have a baby - so pre-2004. I think I remember the job I was at when I wrote this, so between 2000 and 2004. I love this piece, because it captures everything I felt and continue to feel in a timeless way. Everything in our lives has changed since I wrote this. We moved (three times in eighteen months), have an amazing little girl now, have had good jobs, bad jobs, and are gainfully unemployed again. We don't yell and glare as much, although we still do that too. But we're still together and still moving forward (however slowly). And I still think our relationship is perfect in the most frighteningly imperfect way. It's still true that he makes me crazier than anyone I know, but just as true (if not more so), that I am an impossible person to be in a relationship with and maintain one's sanity - I have no idea how he does it.  We have truly walked a hard path in this relationship - lots of craziness coming in from all sides.

If you take nothing else away from reading this, know that marriage is hard work. Really hard work. Probably the hardest work you will ever do. Even more so than parenting, I think, because your kids are from you, part of you, and you love them. No matter what. Parents are just wired that way. Your marriage partner, well, you chose that one, and you have to continue to choose them every single day. Did you hear that? Every. Single. Day. There will be times when "you've lost that loving feeling," and you think it's never going to come back. It does. It might change and grow, but it comes back. And inevitably, it comes back stronger. So, hard work. But also know that this will be the best, richest, truest love you will know here on earth. There is nothing like being married to your best friend. Don't quit. Don't give up. Nothing in the world comes close. Period.

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, this union celebrates seventeen years this year.


  1. :) Congrats on seventeen years.

  2. Nice job, Rebekah! And congrats on seventeen years!!!!


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