"Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."
- Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet)
Ahhhh...one of the reasons why I love The Prophet
by Kahlil Gibran. If you have never read this life-changing piece of prose, I suggest you get yourself a copy. My all-time fave. The above is part of his commentary "On Marriage" and it was printed in its entirety on the back of my own wedding program.
Marriage is hard work. I used to think that to admit that, to say it out loud was the same as admitting that your marriage has problems. Well guess what? I was right. If your marriage does not have problems you are either (a) not married or (b) in denial. No one has a perfect marriage and admitting that you have problems is the first step in improving things. And there is always room for improvement. Not because your marriage is bad necessarily, but because it can always be better.
|Rob and I on our wedding day: April 8, 2000|
I have been married for over eleven years and have been with my husband for fifteen. That is us on our wedding day up there. I still look exactly the same, hairdo, princess dress and single-digit size...everything. OK, maybe I exaggerate but only about the hair. It actually is nicer now. Rob looks the same too. Actually he does. Frick I hate that. I am not sure why because as I said I look the same but better. But I digress...
We conceived our first son less than a year after our wedding and now we have three amazing sons that we adore, aged 9, 7 and 7 months. Yes...our third was an afterthought...or the result of a few too many glasses of wine and a pill or two a little out of skew...but I prefer to call him beautiful.
We have owned 6 cars, 3 homes and approximately 14,357 Lego pieces since we met. Several job changes have taken place. We have both been stay at home parents and working parents. We have been blissfully happy and so out of sorts our hearts felt like bumper cars. But we are still here. We are together. And we have worked hard. Not only as a couple, but as individuals...seeking to become better parts of the wholes. The whole that is me. The whole that is he. And the whole that is we.
One thing we have learned is that we have to be a team if we are to make it in this jungle we call matrimony (I am just getting started folks. Metaphor overload warning: please proceed with caution!). If we don't, we might as well call it a day and hit Match.com. If you are married with children (yeah, I have the theme song in my head now too. You're welcome.), then you gotta work together. You're workin on the same puzzle, trying to fit the pieces together and sometimes things get frickin blurry. Sometimes the table crashes down and the pieces that moments ago were so carefully laid together spray all over the room and you gotta pick them up. Sometimes only one of you feels like picking them up but you do and then start thinking, 'Why the frick am I doing all the picking up? This is OUR puzzle dammit! Why am I here alone?!? Why do you see me here trying to fix this thing the best way I know how even though I know you have lots to contribute, and yet you sit there watching me? Or through me?. We have both had these thoughts.
Sometimes the pieces fit together beautifully and they hold hands like we did back in the beginning... on the beach, sunny skies, little kisses, to sleep at 2, sex at 8, up at noon for brunch. Oh, those were the days.
But these are the days right now in this moment and we still have brunch but it is usually because it takes that long to get a real breakfast made with three busy boys with different needs and we are tired but we want the family to have a nice weekend meal and we can't possibly go to a restaurant every weekend so we have bacon and eggs and toast and coffee and even pancakes with broken up chocolate chip cookies in them cause we ran out of chocolate chips. (Yes, Mommy ate them). There are still kisses. There is still the beach. But the picture on the puzzle is different. More intricate. A bigger puzzle with more pieces and so many different colours and patterns. So difficult to get it right.
But we keep on wagon trailing. We talk. And argue. And talk and argue until the answers become a little clearer. But when we talk...when we argue...we are learning to listen. Learning. Not always, but learning to do it more often and it is making a big difference. We are facing this puzzle together. Sometimes I am working on it as he does something else and vice versa. Sometimes we do it at the same time. And we have side puzzle projects that are ours alone. Not in each others' shadow. But that one, big, intricate puzzle is ours. And our kids' too. Sometimes they help us with a piece or two. It's fun to work together like that as a family.
The puzzle is a long work in progress. But if you look at it every day, with fresh eyes, fresh hearts, an attitude of gratitude...you may just smile a little more often. Laugh a little harder. And maybe, just maybe, put the pieces down for a few stolen moments and have sex. Maybe even at 8.
Marriage: An Intricate Puzzle, Part 2
Fare for Friends: Why We Need Our Gals
For Crying Out Loud
Your Lonely Addiction
What Makes Marriage Work? Practice and Teamwork