Posted by: susanideus | September 17, 2009

Being Married and other challenges

Having recently celebrated anniversary #41, the enduring aspect of our marriage was the topic of questions from a younger co-worker.  First comment was that "no one" stays married that long these days.  Next, in a puzzled tone, she asked "But wasn't it hard?"

Hard?  Of course it was hard.  I told her so.  "Why did you stay? Marriage shouldn't be hard, it shouldn't be work. It should be…fun, you know, enjoyable."

How can a thinking person not know it would be "hard" to live beside another human being for over 40 years?  It wouldn't have to be a spouse.  It could be any person with whom you share a relationship.  Any good relationship takes work: effort, time and a fierce commitment to make it work.

Work is probably the key word here. Effort, time, understanding, concessions, and compromises; not to mention maintaining perspective, developing and keeping a sense of humor, forgiving, talking, learning to be together, remembering to be yourself, sharing a common space, listening, sharing a bathroom, sharing a bed, sharing the remote, talking, synchronizing your internal clocks, having some common goals and dreams, hanging on to personal goals and dreams, listening, talking, listening, being comfortable together even without talking.  And I've left lots out of this list, I'm sure.

Relationships that grow require nurturing, as does anything that grows and flourishes.  If you think about it like a garden, envision what happens when weeds grow.  They can either choke out the tender young plants (your new relationship) or they can be pulled up by their roots before they do any damage.  Problems need to be dealt with, even if it's not all fun and enjoyable as my younger friend wished.  It's that work and commitment thing again.

We've worked hard on this relationship, I suspect we'll always be doing
that.  It's easier than it used to be.  We didn't come into this with
an instruction book.  We didn't even come into with real good
examples.  Harold's mother died when he was a baby.  His dad remarried
and divorced several times after that.  My parents were like two
strangers living uncomfortably in the same place–now it would be
called a dysfunctional marriage.  I just knew I didn't want anything
like it. We were basically self-taught. We were blessed that we had friends and mentors with strong marriages, folks who were open and loving and supportive to an awkward new couple trying to make their way in life.  And we just kept on trying, kept on working at it, kept on loving.

Will there be disagreements?  Anger?  Frustration?  Of course.  If there are two thinking breathing humans living together, they will never agree 100% of the time; they will have bad days; they will make bad choices.  Been there, done that.

I'm reminded of something Mrs Billy Graham said and I'm sure I'm paraphrasing.  When asked if she'd ever considered divorce, she said "Divorce, no. Murder, yes!"  Yes, my friend, it can be difficult.

Is it worth it?  I know everyone has to decide that for him- or herself.  For me, even given our current difficult circumstances (which I've addressed in previous posts), even given times of anger and hurt, even given times of grief and loss, times of weeping and not talking, the answer is yes.

Yes, because the good times far outweigh the bad.  Yes, because we've shared some wonderful adventures.  Yes, because we raised two beautiful daughters that came from us.  Yes, because we want to grow old together.  Yes, because there is nothing better than when it "works".

Us at wedding reception

Yes, because when we look at the future, we see it together.  We still won't always agree, we'll still have bad days, but we're on this life journey together, moving towards whatever is there together.  Just today a friend shared something that just fits the point I'm trying to make.  My friend read this Antoine De Saint-Exupery quote in an Anne Morrow Lindbergh book:

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction"

Worth it?  Oh yes, my young friend, a resounding yes!  Because, you see, in the end, I simply cannot imagine my life without Harold in it.

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Responses

  1. Oh, my, yes–work! But also time. People just don’t give a relationship time these days. If it doesn’t work in two years, or three or five, they break it off. We can’t stay in abusive relationships, but we do need to learn to live past the hard parts, and sometimes all it takes is time. (Love Mrs. Graham’s quote. Murder–absolutely. But it passes.) Thanks for this, Susan.

  2. Time is so important and so precious. I’m not happy with the way we spending ours these days–not enough of it spent together.
    Re learning to live through the hard times…my twin brother divorced after a very short time. It was like one small crisis and he gave up, although it wasn’t one-sided of course. Nearly broke my heart–and they’re both still alone. Very sad.

  3. Loved reading this post…”Great Read” I’m married many years too, and you are right it can be WORK! Especially when you go through a lot of the trials of today, Job loss, loss of very close family members, and friends, etc. We eloped as teenagers, got started with NO money, parents against the marriage…(no support at all) but we somehow made it through. Sometimes LOVE is enough.

  4. I had heard Ruth Graham’s quote before, and enjoyed it then as much as now! A good marriage is such a blessing, and it most definitely takes work. It’s not 50-50 either, my husband and I say it’s 100-100. Great post, Susan.


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