Wednesday, April 30, 2014

For Better or For Worse

I never dreamed that when I bumped into a tall surfer dude at Brannigan's in 1999 he would wind up being anything to me but a guy buying me a drink. I didn't realize until years later how pivotal that moment would be to changing the course of the rest of my life. But it's only now, when The Big G and I have been together nearly 15 years (and married for 11) that I realize just how far we've come. And quite frankly, considering that I was a 22 year old amoeba when I met him I'm shocked at how well things have worked out...or that they've worked out at all.

All around us, friends' marriages have crumbled. Six weddings we attended in our 20s ended in divorce and in the past two years alone we've attended 3 second weddings of some of those same people. And I will be the first to admit, I understand the high divorce rate, because marriage is really, really hard. And although I pray Big G and I will never have to go through it, I don't have any judgment on concept of divorce in general. While some marriages can transcend infidelity, some cannot. No woman should stay with a man who physically or verbally abuses them (and vice-versa)and for every person that insists they want to "keep our marriage together for the sake of the children" I would argue to be careful -- if you are showing your children an indifferent, passionless union based sheerly on finances or function then THAT is the model they will try to emulate one day when they are looking for a partner. But for The Big G and I, well, it's pretty safe to say, that at this moment in time, marriage is our jam.

When Big G and I made it to eleven years this past weekend, we got a lot of congratulations from a number of other married couples. "This is A BIG accomplishment" they would say with a knowing look. Because they know. They know how hard it can be to have to constantly compromise, put each other's needs first and sometimes even go to bed angry. It can be exhausting. And what I tell any bride-to-be who expresses admiration of my own long-standing, seemingly happy relationship is this -- "No matter how good a man matter how giving, loving or amazing with the matter how considerate he is about sending flowers and taking care of you when you're sick and always supporting your some point...I promise you, you will literally have the urge to smack him across the face with a toilet seat."

You won't DO IT of course. That erodes trust and anyway it's illegal. Physical violence is never the answer. But what I'm trying to say is that there will be times in your marriage when you will have feelings so overwhelming you will not know what to do with them. Some of them (like when your husband takes your parents to brunch two weekends in a row, spirits the kids out for a bike ride so you can sleep late and then plants you a surprise rose bush) will be such powerful waves of love and gratitude that you think you might die if you ever lost your soulmate. Other feelings, like the one when he insisted on leaving your grandfather's 85th birthday between dinner and cake to "go for a quick jog"...are not as delightful. True story. I still have no idea why the Big G did that...we weren't dating very long at that point and I guess he didn't realize the importance of long gatherings in my family where you eat dinner twice and dessert all day long.

But when these brides-to-be wrinkle their noses at me, never imagining that they will ever feel anything but goo-goo over their betrothed I only chuckle quietly to myself, thinking they've never had a husband decide to wax all of his surfboards in your dining room one hour before you were hosting 15 friends for a tea party. Marriage is hard. Yes, it's rewarding and comforting and exhilarating but it's also hard. Please, don't say it's not.

Then, you have children. And for realz, you look at this man that you married...and you see him tenderly caring for your children, giving the bottles, exclaiming delightedly over their 1000th drawing of an angry bird and you literally think to yourself "My God. Just when I thought that I couldn't love you any more I have developed this deeper, even more profound bond with you because we are the only two people in this world who will ever feel the same way about our children." And then you come home one night and you realize that the neat home you left before going to the PTO meeting looks like a bomb hit it, and your husband and children are happily eating chocolate ice cream IN YOUR BED, it's 9 pm and your two year old actually is wearing a pair of her brother's Batman underpants on her head. "They're clean...they just came out of the dryer" your husband grins at you, as if that's the only thing wrong with this scene.

And that's when you pour a tankard of wine, call your sister and bitch incoherently about men in general. This is the reality of marriage. It's sometimes ugly. It doesn't mean that I don't love, cherish, honor and respect The Big G. He's really the only one for me. My rock. The guy who brought me the watermelon 15 years ago and stole my heart in the process. No man I've ever met before or since Big G has ever been this perfect for me. But please don't think it's been easy. It hasn't. Because, (say it with me now!) marriage is hard.

Was I told marriage is hard before I entered into the marriage? Perhaps someone mentioned it to me but I just didn't listen. But to be so challenged by someone, so loved and still, so incredibly surprised as I am by The Big G makes all of the hard times worth it. The hard times exist in any marriage. Someone tries to come between you. Tensions with extended family can run high. There's money struggles. A child gets sick. Work is stressful. But it's all ours and between The Big G and I there's a lot of laughing going on.

Because we have a happy, fulfilling, extraordinary union. But don't think it hasn't been without it's bumps and messes because we're certainly had our share. And our mishaps haven't detracted from our relationship, they only serve to strengthen it. So Happy Anniversary to us for making it this far...and to all the rest of you who know how hard it is to nurture and maintain a marriage. And to those of you who are still looking for your price, fear not. I guarantee he's on his way, and he's getting here as fast as he can. And when he does, I will assure you that the occasional urge to hit him with a toilet seat is perfectly natural.

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