So, I was reading this post that Jeanett over at Life Rearranged linked in her Link Love post today. And y’all know how I get. I am moved to comment. And then before I know it, I’ve written a novel. Or at least a blog.
Well, I was reading Glennon’s bloggy birthday gift to her husband. And it moved me. It was the most honest thing I’ve ever read about marriage. And then I got to reading the comments. And they started out innocently enough.. Supportive. Encouraging. And then they changed. They just kind of started ticking me off. Because yeah. That might be her truth… and I’m going to share with you my truth… and it’s not your truth, but that doesn’t mean my truth or her truth is any less truthy. Or that our marriages are any less real because they don’t look like yours.
And I sincerely do not understand these women who are so insistent on making themselves feel better that they must tear down everyone else. That if we don’t all look alike, then those of us who look differently should be squashed like pesky flies. Or put in time out like errant children.
When I got married, I was a full-fledged adult. I thought I understood things. That marriage wasn’t a fairy tale or happily ever after. That we wouldn’t always agree or get along or like each other.
I understood we would settle into a 3x per week “marital business/romps when the kid was asleep” and mostly they would be quickies and that this every day stuff wouldn’t last forever. And might even *gasp* get dull after a while.
That we might get dull after a while.
I knew that marriage was action and choice and work. But it wouldn’t be hard work, because gosh. We loved each other.
But what I didn’t know… Oh…. what I didn’t know…. was that a year into our marriage a Taylor Swift song would come out that would make me doubt. That I would wonder if the never-yelling/never slamming doors/never throwing dishes meant we had no passion. No fizz. No spark. That electricity that burned so hot it could hurt…And that without that passion, that spark, that fire, I would fear that we were destined to fail.
I didn’t know that all that drama was the sign of a broken person. Not a whole person. I didn’t know you could disagree without shouting. That broken dishes were not only unnecessary, but that sometimes they would mean you had to eat finger foods until payday so you could afford to replace them. That it wasn’t necessary to scream to be heard.
That when only one person is screaming because I am afraid I won’t be heard, I just look silly. Or mean.
That was the insides of the marriages I had been exposed to. Sometimes violently *passionate*. Sometimes just violent. I thought that the more heat you had between you must equal more love between you.
I am so very blessed that my husband had a different view of marriage. Of how to love people. That love and passion don’t look like violence and fighting and raised voices and… Well.
All. That. Drama.
I have a wonderful marriage to a wonderful man. It’s not perfect by any means. It’s perfect for us, though.
We were both in our 30’s. I was 35; he was 31. First marriages for us both. We knew we wanted to be married. We knew we wanted to be married to each other. It was the first time, really, that I had genuinely wanted to be married at all. (And I’d been proposed to several times.in the past…) We knew we were “it.”
Two wholes of a bigger whole.
However, I didn’t have a lot of butterflies. I can remember asking him one day if he felt any passion at all for me. I remember being stung by his answer at the time. I didn’t understand the difference between a flash fire that burns down the entire forest… and the burning coals hidden under the ashes that provide warmth for a lifetime…
I’ve been blessed with the belief nearly my entire adult life that love isn’t a feeling. It’s not warm fuzzies. It’s actions. Day in. Day out. Corinthians I lists a bunch of things to do and says “this is what love is”. Feeling all butterfly-y isn’t in that list.
Two years after we were married, when I began receiving a laundry list of diagnoses of both auto-immune and later neurological damage to my autonomic nervous system, well. Shit got real.
Each time my husband had to bathe me. Love was an action. Love was a choice. Love was work.
Each time… Even last night… When my inability to regular my body temperature leaves me trembling and shaking and every muscle in my body twitching to try to get warm and I roll over and tearfully ask him to dig out the down comforters we just put away for summer that very day and put one in the dryer to warm it please. I’m so cold. And it’s 5:30am. And he’s worked a 17 hour day. He gets up and warms my blanket. And brings me the ice water he knows that I’ll need as soon as my core temp swings the other way. Without ever, ever making me feel like the inconvenience I surely must be. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
Every time he heads off to his second job so that we can afford a housekeeper because I’m literally too wiped out by just living to also clean up. Never letting on how tired he is. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
Each night when he brings me all my medications because my short term memory (and if we’re being honest, my long term isn’t so great, either… I write everything down now) and attention span has just been stolen between medications and diseases. When he calls me to remind me of things I have to do that day. When he gets up and starts my car in the morning and it’s 3℉ outside and we haven’t seen the ground for 4 months or more because it’s covered in 2ft of snow. because we both know that getting cold is the worst for me. Because I can’t regulate temps. And invariably a day where I get cold=a night where I shiver and shake and twitch and eventually cry myself to an exhausted sleep while he rubs my forehead and rewarms down blankets in what seems like a never-ending rotation until I finally warm up again. Without batting an eye and with kisses placed gently on my face, eyelids, cheeks among whispered words telling me of his love for me. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
Each day that he’s married to this stranger neither of us really knows yet. Who was a strong, stubborn, independent woman, who worked full time, while going to school, and clinicals on top of school, while maintaining a 4.0gpa, while also being a full time single mom. Who now faints if I go around a corner too fast or get out of bed too quickly. Who can’t stand there some days long enough to take a shower much less prepare a dinner for our family. Who spent nearly two years on chemo drugs and now has incredibly thin hair. Who hurts too bad to contemplate sex some days. And on the rest of the days, he has to be careful not to go to marathon-y like the sex we used to have and remember to be mindful of all the places that hurt now even with the gentlest of pressure. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
Some days that work is hard and toilsome. We’ve only been married 6 years this August. Four of these years have been the hardest years in each of our lives. We faced head-on things that most marriages will never face. We’ve walked through the other side. We’ve been forged by fire.
Some days I’ve contemplated leaving. Not because I don’t love him, but because I do. I want him to have what we promised each other. And I feel like he got the short end of this marriage stick. And he surely must feel beaten up by this short stick some days.
And he surely must have days where he thinks it would be easier to walk away. Where the never ending surprise of what kind or how harsh my symptoms will be that day. And there surely must be something easier/better/less…. Work than this. But love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is… work.
When I am packing his lunch, and I stop, find a pen, oh. And I’ll need paper. And I write a note telling him I love him. That I think he’s the most handsome husband a girl could ever have. That I am so thankful that I got to choose him to be the dad for my kidlet. That he gives me goosebumps. That I desire him. That he’s my hero. That I simply appreciate all that he does for me, for our family. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
When I make his favorite meal even though I’m tired and should be resting just because I know he’s had a hard day. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
When I pack his lunch every day for him. Yogurt. Small mason jar of milk. Baggie of shredded wheat. Two cheese sticks. 2 Clementine oranges. And leftovers du jour. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
When every year the last week of April or first week of May I find someone on Craigslist to come and clean up the yard from winter. The St. Bernard land mines. The sticks. The weeds. And whatever else. To power wash the house. To mow, rake, weed eat, edge, fertilize, sweep, haul off so that he has a clean slate to start with. Because I know he loves to work outside but can be overwhelmed by the getting started after the long winter. So I get the hard work out of the way for him so that he’s free to do the things he enjoys. Planting. Maintaining. Changing. Building. Grilling. Fire-pit marshmallow roasting.
And then as soon as the yard is done that first time, I throw a huge 30-50 people themed surprise birthday bash for him. (Last year was Cinco Dr Mayo because he’s May 5. This year will be Star Wars day complete with Jedi robes and light sabers for Hubbs and kidlet. And maybe a Princess Leia gown for me. And who knows what I’ll do for the guests…). So that he can know how much everyone adores him and is changed by his presence. All with money I’ve been squirreling away since Christmas so it doesn’t screw up his budget planning. And also so that he doesn’t know. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
When we curl up on the couch together and watch tv. Alternating who is laying down and who’s doing the foot rubbing with each show. Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
Really, really hard work.
And he does it. And I’m so thankful.
And I do it. And I’ m so thankful.
Love is an action. Love is a choice. Love is work.
Sometimes the work is easy. It won’t even seem like work. Sometimes the work is the hardest thing you’ll ever do and you’ll get it done by sheer force of will. And how hard the work is? That has nothing to do with how good or bad your marriage is, how right or wrong you are for each other.
Whether or not you will fail.
All those things are determined by whether or not you are willing to work. No matter if the burden is light or if the burden feels like it will break you.
This is the truth of my marriage. It may not be the truth of yours. And that’s okay. You probably don’t want my truth. I don’t blame you. But look deep into the truth of your own marriage. Own it. Embrace it. But know it. Know the truth of your marriage.
I had to read this to my husband tonight before I could post it. That I had ever had any doubts was not something that I wanted him to read online without hearing my heart breaking with the admission. Without knowing that it’s the one secret I’ve kept from him. And that this one secret had buried itself so deep in my soul that it had festered and oozed fear and trembling. So I needed him to hear it from me first… hear my sorrow that I had ever doubted him. Me. Us. I cried just trying to get through the words. So afraid to wound him. I would never, ever want to wound him. And he, ever the hero… ever my hero… he just held me while I cried.
He’s so good at that. Knowing exactly what I need and then just being that need. Not just meeting the need. Being the need.
This is the truth of my marriage.