“The sum which two married people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through eternity.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Twenty-six years ago today was a Saturday. I know this because I was married at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Well, at least there was a young woman of 22 who was married that day. I still look vaguely like her, or at least I can remember her in me. I could not have imagined what I was saying I do to in those days. No one can. The promise to walk beside someone for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer… how can you know what that will mean at 22, or even years later? The promise is one that you keep day by day.
The minister who married us in the little Methodist church, counseled us against getting married. He died young so I can’t call him up to show him how wrong he was. Who knows, maybe he was right back then. I was recollecting with an old friend today about how long it took me to actually see the man that I married. It was at least seven years before I stopped comparing him to my idea of who he was, or who I thought he should be. I don’t think I was kind about that space between my fantasy man and my real partner.
I know that even my memories of how things were in our early years are selective. The most painful views are probably too deeply buried to get at. How we remember and retell our stories gives our relationships life or kills them. I learned this just before it was too late. I remember the year when I learned the powerful lesson of the benefit of the doubt. I finally recognized that it was my perception that turned events and behaviors into slights or offenses. The truth is in most partnerships, both people are doing the best that they can, however far off that might be from what we think we want or need.
My wedding anniversary settled in the heart of spring reminds me each year, that things are reborn all the time and that love deserves fresh eyes. Some years we celebrate just the tenacity and tolerance that brought us around again. Other years, we breakthrough to a level of trust and feeling of partnership that changes us. It is different every year and they come around more quickly every year.
It is amazing as I look back through photo albums of us, with increasing number of children in our arms and consider all of the people we have been to each other. More incredible still, when I try to grasp how many years I have shared my bed with him, how our ability to connect intimately has provided the glue to keep the swirling mess going.
The best decision I ever made was to marry my husband. The hundreds of times that I had to choose it again, that I had to find the heart to say yes to all of the annoying and challenging aspects of our frail and annoying personalities, were the best choices I could have made. Some of those days I almost didn’t get there. I am so grateful that I found the courage to find what was good, behind all those days that I was stuck in what didn’t work. Robert Sexton wrote: “In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced.” I owe my life to this marriage, that holds me up, sometimes brings me down but is always the ground I stand on. Thanks Franc, for being my forever friend.