I met the man I would marry, when I was a sophomore in college at the ripe, young, age of twenty. He was tall, thin, and wispy. The sun had painted his face and arms a deep brown, and his baby, blue eyes shone like a beacon in the night among his finely chiseled bone structure. I was drawn to the way he carried himself, all legs and shoulders, with a hint of complexity that could be mistaken for shyness or arrogance. I felt like I had played my hand long enough to know, when I needed to hold and when I needed to fold, and I fully intended to hold onto him for a very long time.
I know! What was I thinking? I was still a BABY, barely out of diapers, and I had went and fallen in love. Love could wait, right? There was so much yet I hadn’t done, so much I needed to see, but love rarely waits. The timing, the attraction, the emotions, and the willingness for vulnerability all have to show up and be present or else; it dissipates; it moves on; it finds someone new. I couldn’t or should I say, didn’t, want to take that risk. When he asked to have and hold me forever, I did not hesitant. I leaped toward holy matrimony with both eyes and feet firmly planted forward.
So, imagine this madly, deeply in love girl, whom would have walked toward the end of the ocean, wrapped the moon and stars in cellophane and gift wrap, for the man, who placed a platinum engagement ring on her finger, sitting in a sociological statistics class, under a quirky red-haired professor whose favorite topic of research and discussion was marital satisfaction. I’ll never forget the day she showed us one of her pretty little graphs with horizontal and vertical lines flagged with dips and dives. Her graphs illustrated how marital satisfaction deteriorated the longer you were married, and by the number of children you bore. The greater the number of children, the lower your marital satisfaction ranked. I was in HELL!
Considering, I was as green as a four-leaf clover on the first day of spring, when it came to marriage, you can just imagine the fear and panic I felt from this class. I desperately wanted my marriage to work. I wanted us to be happy and live happily ever after until the end of time; until our hearts stopped beating and our lungs drew their last breath.
Yes, I was naive. I was hopeful and FRANTIC! I wanted, no, I needed to know what made a marriage work before I said “I do”? What was the glue that held it all together? Why did some marriages work and why did some not?
Thus, began my life long research project. I began to dissect, over analyze, and over think every married relationship I had ever came in contact with, from those that had lasted 35 plus years to those that had stayed married less than six months. I took everything I knew about their lives and their love, and multiplied, divided and factored, trying to come up with some magical formula. Okay, so 1 man with traditional beliefs and frugal spending habits plus 1 woman with conservative views and frugal spending habits equaled 1 happy marriage. Hah! Only if it was that simple. Love bites. Love hurts. Love is beautiful. Love is Messy, but simple it is not!
The more I researched the more confused I became. Seemingly happy couples who did nothing but love, hug and pat, would unravel at that seams without a single snag, and then there were those couples that seethed misery, never had a nice word to say about their spouse, and the less time they spent together the better, would last till death came knocking. The only thing that made sense was love doesn’t make sense. The only answer I received is that, “Well, umm, it’s complicated.” Really? Complicated? Hmm…
My lack of understanding didn’t stop me from saying “I do”. I walked,
actually I ran down the aisle, with a head full of ill conceived notions about this thing called “love”. I full-fistedly held onto the idea that as long as I loved enough, as long as I did everything in my power to make him happy, from saying yes when I wanted to say no, having a five course meal waiting for him when he got home from work, clothes clean, house spotless, and a pearly white smile plastered across my face at all times, then I could be the glue that held us togther.
I laugh as I write this, because being a Stepford wife didn’t work for me and it didn’t work for us! By the time, our one year anniversary rolled around, I had had enough. I wanted to throw our left over freezer burnt wedding cake out the door, and me with it. I was exhausted and much to my dismay, I had discovered that it didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do. Love was something that could not be forced or contained. It could not be bought or sold. It’s there or it’s not.
Thank God, for the most part love has always been there between us. So what, if it feels a lot like a wild, roller coaster ride most days. One day, we are coasting to the top, arms stretched out wide and high, enjoying the glorious view, and the next day, we are barreling toward the bottom, screaming, long and loud, and fed up! But, we never stop. We never give up. We never get off. We just keep going; up and down; up and down.
Why am I sharing all this you ask? May be it’s nostalgia. My husband and I, will be married almost a decade on the fourteenth. Do I feel like I have this whole love and marital satisfaction thing figured out? No! Am I glad I took a chance anyway? Yes! Will we be together another 9 years or 99 years? I don’t know. My crystal ball cracked and broke years ago. I have no clue what the future holds, at all, but I hope he’s still holding my hand, all the way, to the very end.