Those are my rings in the picture, my weathered hand. Thirty years ago, this hand looked younger, less wrinkled … but it was attached to a younger, less-wrinkled me. Those wrinkles have been earned. Were this not a relatively new set of rings (you know, weight gain, damage, etc.), I am certain that, if you really looked hard, you would be able to see the actual wrinkles transferred right into the gold because …
Marriages age right along with our skin. Marriages get weathered right along with our hands. Because …
Marriage is WORK. The bold and the italics are intentional. Marriage takes a lot of effort. You don’t just keep it because you’re in love. Love ages and gets weathered. You don’t keep it because you’re good-looking. We all know that doesn’t last (well, that depends on what you consider beautiful). The only way you keep a marriage going is by doing the work.
I make it sound like a chore, don’t I? Well, life is full of all sorts of chores, isn’t it? Raising children is a chore. Going to work is a chore. Keeping your home livable is a chore. Preparing or obtaining nutritious food is a chore. Personal cleanliness is a chore. Yet, who of us would say “It’s just not worth it” to any of these chores? Who of us would choose to let any of these chores go and just see what happens? I know there will always be a few who do just that but I think the majority of humans elect to hang in there with these chores because they mean life. These chores – simply by the accomplishing of them – keep us going through our lives: they bring us health and company, which opens us up to be able to pursue joy and our personal ideas of success.
A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. While we were away (the Caribbean, y’all!), we were asked the same question multiple times – especially by couples who had just gotten married that weekend. Actually, we have been asked the same question for at least the past ten years. My husband and I always try to answer within the time constraints of the moment, which is always severely inadequate for such an important topic. The question? I’ll use the exact quote of the young prior-day bride; what she yelled as the hostess escorted my husband and me to our table:
“How do you do it, girl?!”
The answer? Well … it’s just not that simple. It’s like asking, “How do you cook?” “How do you drive?” “How do you raise children?” “What’s it like to go to work?” “What clothes should you wear?” I cannot imagine anyone being able to answer any of those questions with one or two or even ten concise sentences. I cannot imagine any answer being appropriate/correct/helpful for all marriages. It depends.
Wow, does it ever depend.
So let’s talk about it. There is no one answer, of course, but I find that marriage is a topic people love to discuss. Everyone has a different answer to this question and a million other marriage-related questions. Everyone has different thoughts on the subject. We have discussed marriage probably hundreds of times with people we’ve known for years and with people we’ve known for two minutes while standing in a line, with long-married people, with newlyweds, with confirmed/determined singles, with divorced people. It comes up all the time. Regardless of any individual’s or couple’s status, people seem to always be interested in marriage.
So let’s talk about it. Please share your thoughts and/or questions. I’ll share my thoughts on the hard ones in separate posts. It might be a chore but at least there’s the opportunity for some lively discussion.