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Day 45: An Infinite Debt

“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.“ ~Robert Sexton


As many of you know I have been married to the same man for almost 26 years. I have loved him for close to 30. Looking back to the girl that fell for him at 19, or the young woman with a pregnant belly and a resentful heart, or the more mature woman with a big family of 4 and one foot out the door, it is hard to believe that I have been all of those people with the same man and that he would still love me. That we still love after all the years of giving in, giving up and finally learning to just give is the miracle of my life. 

Learning to love each other over these many years has been enlarged and complicated by the growth of our family. We have four children, each a complex and beautiful addition with their own bundle of gifts and problems. At any given moment, there are at least 36 different relationships going on in our house. Moments of harmony are the blessings that we work towards. Creating the space for that harmony among us all requires enormous attention and vigilance. Often there are simply not enough resources for everyone’s needs.

Ironically, it is in raising a family out of love, where the marriage suffers. Going in you just couldn’t anticipate what it would take. Marriages fail, not in big ways, but in the small details of sewing lives together. Building a lasting commitment happens in all of the little decisions you make to show up, to listen, to accept the love as it is given. We are not out of the tunnel. Our children now range from early adolescence to early adulthood. The insanity of hormonal changes and the urgency to self define in the teens weighs even heavier than the early years of constant vigilance of small children. We are learning how to simultaneously hold and let go. It feels like inner tearing.

Yet between us, the ties that bind us no longer chafe of hurt. Instead they are the solid foundation that we hang onto as the world we have built spins out of our control. We still face the issue of not enough resources in raising our family. But now we are kind to each other and look out for one another’s needs before the children. It took years for us to recognize and value the center of the wheel. Compromising that breaks the entire circle as we have seen over and over again among our friends.

Our life together has given us the rare and remarkable experience of forgiveness. The only real time travel that is available to us mortals, when the heart truly lets go of its injury and engages in the relationship anew. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “The sum, which two married people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through eternity.”

Loving Franc and working with him to learn what family means defines the significance of my life. It would be nothing without the miracles of love we have made for each other. It is the foundation of all the loving work that I am capable of offering in the world and I pray still that it will be the rock and the path for my children to find the same in their own lives as they fly away.

Thank you my dear sweet husband. I am so grateful for our education in love.