Tag Archives: For Better or For Worse

Once Upon a Marriage

This feels deeply personal, and a little strange to post. But I’ve enjoyed reading and learning from the other letters in Amber Haines’ Marriage Letters link-up. So, I’m jumping in with a letter on this month’s topic: Once Upon a Time.

Dear Glen,

Remember once upon a time, when we lived to be together? Starry eyed teenagers… with a smug certainty of our own importance and bright future… with a mix-tape blasting cheesy love songs through the speakers of your Volkswagon Rabbit… with plans growing, morphing and changing in all aspects except one – we’d be together.

We weren’t wrong about that.

I got to know a lovely young woman in my last writing class. She’s 19, the same age I was when I chased our happily-ever-after down the church aisle in my white dress. She’s in love with Mr. Wonderful and they’re making plans. She assured me that their happy ending wouldn’t dare start until they had finished school, established careers, built a nest egg, and put a down payment on a reasonably-priced nest in a good neighbourhood.

The Sensible Mom in me was pleased. The Romantic Teenager in me sighed.

It wasn’t easy, getting married as young as we were. But we were too stupid naïve, too thrilled with our new-found freedom and togetherness to care. Remember the hideous second-hand couch we were so excited to receive? It was SO uncomfortable! But we threw a green sheet over it and decided we were really grown ups now. At our age uncomfortable seating didn’t seem like such a big deal. Besides, it was just temporary. Eventually life would get easier, better, more secure.

Somewhere along the way we stopped scrambling for every penny. We added meat and the good toilet paper to our grocery list each week. Acting like grown ups stopped feeling like a thrill. We faced losses and victories, created homes and packed them into boxes, had children and buried children, changed jobs and sizes and styles and beliefs. We bought ourselves a huge brown sectional, big enough for a family of 6 to stretch out and watch American Idol together.

It is SO comfortable!

And crowded.

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All along, we’ve expected things to get easier, better, and more secure. Someday.

I don’t think it ever has. The things we planned on – careers, moving away, having children… are harder than we ever expected. The things we hadn’t planned on – grief, changing goals and ideals, special needs… are more than we could have anticipated or prepared for. In many ways, those early years were the simplest ones.

The only thing we got right was that we’d be doing it all together. And even that isn’t as easy as we expected.

So I told my young classmate that. That I didn’t regret our years of eating ketchup sauce on noodles and going to the library as a “date.” That there’s no way to skip ahead, past the hard stuff. That as much as I’d like my own kids to take an easier road, I’m not sure it’s the best road. Or that it even exists.

She laughed at my jokes and nodded her head at my advice. But she didn’t really understand. Of course not. No one does. Not until they live it.

Growing up is hard. It’s been 22 years since you held my hand in the halls of our High School. We’re not the people we were then. In some ways we’ve grown together, in others we’ve grown apart.

Most days we feel old, and tired, and a little bit overwhelmed. This life stage is tough. I want to believe that it’s going to get easier, better, and more secure. I want to believe that we’ll be finished growing up and have life all figured out eventually. But I doubt it.

Maybe the only realistic goal is that we’ll face it together.

After all we’ve been through… that’s good enough for me.

Loving you more than ever,
Christie

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So here’s us.

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18 Years of Best and Worst

You greeted me this morning with “By the way…” then gave me a passionate kiss.

My hands were full of dirty laundry. My heart was pounding frantically as I rushed to get us all out the door for an early morning dr’s appointment. My mind was overflowing with forms to finish and children to dress and snacks to pack. My hair was a frizzy mess. My glasses askew. My eyes still gritty with sleep.

I wasn’t my best me.

I’ll admit, my first reaction wasn’t entirely positive. I’m not a morning person. I have tunnel vision when I’m in a hurry. And I don’t like to be interrupted at the best of times. Which is why we don’t usually make out in the hallway in the middle of the morning rush.

As you grabbed me, I thought “What the…” As you leaned in, I thought “Really?!” I may have even growled under my breath.

I have so much to do. All the time. Most of it is important, or at least seems important at the time. And it never stops. Not when you get home from work. Not after “bedtime.” Not on summer holidays. I don’t get it all done. I don’t even try most days. But it’s always there, hanging over my head.

This is a particularly busy season of life. For people who once enjoyed sleeping in, lazy days and reading for hours, the past decade has been an adjustment. We’re often snappy and overwhelmed. We’re usually sticky and smelly. And we’re almost always exhausted.

We’re not our best us.

We’re parents. Parents of young children, at that. This isn’t a crisis or a problem, or even a surprise. This is just the way life goes. It’s easy to get stuck in survival mode.

But I kissed you back, in the middle of the chaos, and by the end I was smiling.

Because you are still so good at that! It wasn’t something I thought I needed or wanted right then, but, boy, was I wrong. It’s one of those important things, that doesn’t seem urgent, but probably is.

Sometimes I forget to kiss you. Or hold your hand. Or tell you the ways you are wonderful.

That just won’t do. This year, I promise to kiss you every time you leave me and every time you return. Because “being us,” even in the middle of chaos, is a habit worth pursuing. We need it more than ever these days.

18 years ago today we promised to love each other, at our best AND at our worst.

Not just when it’s expected. Or easy. Or convenient.

We have some pretty great moments – romantic moments, life-affirming-can-you-believe-how-awesome-our-family-is moments, inside joke/kindred spirit moments, laugh-until-we-cry moments… but I think it’s the not-so-easy ones that matter the most.

This is when I know you love all of me, the parts that aren’t so pretty or so fun (or so rational if I’m honest). Not in the gushy, I just-FEEL-so-loving-towards-you way… but in the I’ll-stick-around-and-won’t-just-take-your-crap-and-will-hash-it-out-and-forgive-and-apologize-and-hug-you-anyway.

And I love you that way too!

For Better or For Worse.

Happy Anniversary to the best man I know!

xoxo

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