I think I’d like to get married again. To date, Hubs has been a wonderful first husband so he will be part of Wedding #2 as well. Maybe he can be my +1.
I definitely don’t want to look at this as a do-over as I had a the most kick ass wedding ever. Just ask BFF- she cried at my dad’s speech and came home with someone else’s shoes. If that’s not the sign of a great party, I don’t know what is. Anyone can come home with clothing items missing, but to come home with someone else’s clothes… that takes skill. If that still doesn’t convince you, check this out…
No, your eyes do not deceive you. Those are in fact Jack in the Box bendable buddies and Pez dispensers. Who needs candied almonds or napkins with our name and wedding date? We had toys. I’ll spare the you disturbing photos taken by my friends with the disposable cameras. I think it’s safe to say that Jack got more action than the newlyweds that night. The party favors were awesome. The groom was awesome. The venue and the food were fan-freaking-tastic. Clearly, the drinks were up to snuff. But still, I’d like to get married again.
When I got married the first time I was only 24. I know that’s not necessarily too young, but it was definitely young. Getting married was a huge decision to make at that age, especially when I had made so few monumental decisions at that point in my life. Sure I’d chosen a college, bought a car, started grad school and lived alone by then. But those were all decisions made with the safety net of my mother and father waiting below. Should I have failed at any one of those there would have been consequences, but Mom and Dad and the filing of some paperwork could always repair whatever had been damaged. Technically the same is true of marriage, but the stakes were much higher this time.
By the grace of God the gamble has worked out so far. My decision panned out and no paperwork has been filed. But I have to be honest, it hasn’t been a walk in the park either. Marriage is hard. Harder for some and less hard for others I guess. But even the best matched pairs travel the path filled with peeks and valleys.
This is why I want to get married again. I’ve had some time to live in the decision. I am no longer a naive young woman of 24 thinking I’m an adult who knows oh so much. I laugh now when I look back at that girl-woman. She had such strong opinions about what marriage was. She tossed around words like commitment, compromise, communication, understanding, love, honor, respect and cherish as if she had any clue at all what they meant or how they worked together to build a marriage. She was ready, though. She was prepared. She had a plan.
It was a great plan and a fairly wise one for someone her age. She knew that she would need to learn to compromise and work with her partner to establish fair and reasonable expectations of one another. She knew that communication would make or break them and she was prepared to communicate about it all. There would be words. Lots and lots of words. Words about feelings. Words about thoughts. Words about compromise and working together. Words, words, words, words, words. And after all the words were spoken with an open mind and an open heart, she and her husband would meet in the middle and come to a mutual agreement about all things. We were partners, right? And the best partnerships are 50-50. So a successful marriage must be 50-50 as well. She was so wise beyond her years…
*insert screeching tires* Uh, it turns out her plan was pretty much a dud. You see, there is no such thing as 50-50 in a marriage. It’s just not possible. First of all, for the marriage to be 50-50 there is the assumption that each person is coming to the table 100%. 100% in touch with their feelings. 100% aware of the other person’s feelings. 100% able to communicate, and put away pride and ego and hurt feelings. 100% present and available. Simply put, they would need to be 100%.
Guess what? Turns out few of us are ever functioning at 100%. And even more rare are the times BOTH partners are 100% at the same time. And second, we are not needed equally at all times. Sometimes it is Hubs’ season to carry the load while I tend to our small children. And other times it will be my responsibility to carry it while he navigates changes in his professional life. Our job descriptions rarely call for us to be 50-50.
The discovery of these two things has given me a better, clearer understanding of what marriage really takes- what it really looks like. And that nugget of wisdom makes me want to do it all over again because now I get what it means to commit my life to someone and be their unequal partner and I’d choose Hubs all over again. OK, that’s most of the reason- I’d also like my parents to pay for another awesome party and I want a better dress. But it’s mostly the other stuff.
Marriage is a dance. It’s all about movement and rhythm and steps and avoiding stepping on toes. It has a natural flow and some unavoidable missteps; and it takes serious coordination and practice (and occasionally blood, sweat, tears and smashed toes) for both participants to be in sync.
For me, marriage has been learning when to step forward as my partner steps back; when to lean back as he leans in. It’s about foot placement and working together, dancing as partners and filling in each other’s gaps. If marriage were truly a dance of 50-50 where would the beauty of movement be? We’d simply be two stiff immobile people standing in place- no give and take, no stepping forward and back.
I recognize that I could not have known these things at 24. I had to live it to learn it. I didn’t wake up one day being able to compromise and share burdens and responsibilities. I had to learn it- sometimes with ease and other times painfully. I stopped looking for a 5-50 partnership and started appreciating the fact that Hubs knew when I was barely hanging on at a 20 and I needed him to carry the 80 in order for me to keep my head above water. And I learned the same thing about him.
Sometimes I feel guilty for the roller coaster ride Hubs has had to ride being married to me. I’m not a walk in the park- I’m under no false illusion that I’m Wife of the Year. I think too much. I talk too much. I feel too much. I worry too much. And Lord knows I guilt too much. But where I have had an extra helping of these things he has benefited. That’s how marriage works. My surplus can be poured into him when his reserves are low, and vice versa.
We’ve grown and learned together over these 16 years of dating and being married. Flowers that once seemed silly and a waste of money are now sweet symbols that say “I thought of you today in spite of the hours of phone calls and mountains of paperwork and tiresome commute.” Opening doors isn’t just something his mom taught him, it’s a small way of showing that I’m loved and cherished. In the early years of being a mom, when I was most desperate for the 50-50 because it was so “unfair” that he got business lunches when I had PB&J crust and he had quiet commutes while I had endless hours of The Wiggles, he learned to dance with me by suggesting Girls Night Out and pedicures. And when weekends and weekdays blend together in a continual loop of work for him, I stepped in with Game Nights and golf and guys’ trips to Vegas.
It’s funny to think how the language of love changes over the years of marriage. The need to “get away” or “have some time to myself” has lessened and I definitely feel like this season has granted me peace and joy more so than any before. So we’ve had to learn new ways to cherish one another. Who knew that gas miraculously appearing in my gas tank or a continual supply of fresh batteries in my electric toothbrush would make me feel cherished. I need fewer flowers but love that he does the grocery shopping to lighten my load. There is always Trader Joe’s Blue Cheese Pecan Dip in the fridge and Zone Bars in the pantry. And no Friday arrives without a cold Diet Pepsi and Maker’s Mark waiting for me once the kids are in bed.
To a 24 year old newlywed these might seem like very unromantic symbols of love. But to a 37 year old mother of 2 who has been up for 17 hours, a good snack and a stiff drink shine brighter than any diamond he could offer. I’d like to get married again because I love the journey we’ve taken together, Hubs and I. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Knowing now that there will be hard days and weeks and ups and downs and changes and sacrifices and that it will never ever truly be 50-50…I’d still choose Hubs any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
That’s just my normal.