Making one last batch of chicken burritos (with homemade guacamole), in between moving boxes from the old home to the new.
Posts Tagged ‘marriage’
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, the two of us, it’s that marriage isn’t always easy, and there will be times that try us without mercy. We will sometimes – maybe even often – disagree, and things and people and events will come along that test our courage and resolve, and that’s when we will turn to the memory of this precious time together, and the knot we are weaving to bind us into one.
—Beatriz Williams, A Certain Age
I came across these sentences last month, when I read Williams’ glittering novel about tangled love and secrets in 1920s New York. My path to marriage – thank goodness – was not quite as dramatic as that of Sophie, who writes these lines to her sister near the end of the book. I met my husband on a quiet college campus in West Texas, and I married him on that same campus, nearly six years after we met (and almost five years after we started dating). We were starry-eyed and stubborn and impossibly young – and we have been married, as of yesterday, for eight years.
Eight years is a long time and not a long time, all at once. It is not quite a decade, but it is long enough that we have formed certain habits, learned and unlearned certain things, built a solid (I hope) foundation for the rest of our marriage and our lives. By virtue of meeting when we were so young, we have been together for a good chunk of our lives. But eight years is also long enough to learn this: things change.
I am married, in some ways, to the same man I met when we were 18. He has the same dark eyes and wide smile, the same clear tenor singing voice, the same love for sports and his family and me. I am also the same, in some ways, as when we met: I have green eyes and freckles and a deep love for books. I read and write both to make my living and to make sense of the world. And one fundamental thing is also the same: we love each other, fiercely and deeply.
But eight years is also long enough for a lot of change to happen. We have both changed jobs, finished graduate school, moved across the country and changed jobs again (roughly in that order). More importantly: we have both learned and grown as people, which means that our relationship has evolved. There have been times – including the past year, when I was job hunting – that have tried us without mercy. And life has tested our courage and resolve.
The work of marriage in these years has been about building a life together, yes, but it has also been about giving each other the space to grow and change. It is hard for me sometimes to admit that our life looks different than I thought it would, or that we are both allowed to change our opinions – and then that change might require some reshuffling. Like anything that is expected to endure, a marriage has to be both strong and flexible. That is, as I once heard Lauren Winner say, “hard and holy work.” And it is ongoing.
Here is the other side of that coin, though: marriage is sweet. It is deep and rich and nourishing, and it is often a lot of fun. I am grateful to be married to someone who makes me laugh, who always has my back, who gets me in ways I don’t have to explain. We love to go adventuring together and we love to stay home. We love being us, even while we are still two separate people. We love our life together. And I am grateful for it all.
Happy anniversary, love. Here’s to many more.
I’m starting 2016 off right – with a few good books. Here’s what I have been reading so far this month:
After You, Jojo Moyes
The sequel to Moyes’ blockbuster Me Before You finds Louisa Clark stuck in neutral after losing the man she loved. When a lonely, angry teenage girl turns up on her doorstep, Lou is forced to make some tough choices. Compulsively readable, like all Moyes’ books, though I was consistently frustrated with Lou and her decisions.
The Witches of Cambridge, Menna van Praag
Hiding in plain sight among the spires of Cambridge (England) is a group of witches: sisters Kat and Cosima, Heloise and her daughter Amandine, outspoken Noa and shy George. During a turbulent year, they employ a little (white) magic to help each other through personal challenges. Fluffy and enjoyable; sprinkled with gentle magical realism. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 9).
The Hired Girl, Laura Amy Schlitz
Joan Skraggs longs to better herself and to see the world, but she knows she’ll never do either working on her father’s farm. Running away to Baltimore, Joan changes her name to Janet Lovelace and ends up working for a wealthy Jewish family. I loved Joan’s narrative voice – guileless, plainspoken, often funny. Also a sensitive exploration of faith, both Jewish and Christian. Recommended by Shelley and Nina.
Heirs of the Body, Carola Dunn
Daisy Dalrymple’s 21st case hits close to home: helping her cousin Edgar, Viscount Dalrymple, find the heir to the family estate. Several potential heirs from various countries make up an ill-assorted house party, and when one candidate ends up dead, Daisy and her detective husband Alec must help solve the mystery. Reminded me of the first season of Downton Abbey (with a mystery angle). Really fun.
Flight of Dreams, Ariel Lawhon
On May 6, 1937, the airship Hindenburg met a spectacularly disastrous end when it went up in flames over a New Jersey airfield. The cause was never clear, and the ship’s fate has long been a subject of debate. Lawhon brilliantly weaves the facts together with several intertwined narratives of passengers and crew members, over the ship’s three-day journey from Frankfurt to the U.S. Taut and well-crafted, with complex, vividly drawn characters. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 23).
The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook, Ellen McCarthy
As the weddings reporter for the Washington Post, McCarthy interviewed hundreds of couples, and gleaned some solid advice for how to find “the one” and make love last. She shares what she’s learned through wise, often hilarious anecdotes, with glimpses into her own love story. Funny, smart and so readable. Recommended by Anne.
The Year of Miss Agnes, Kirkpatrick Hill
Teachers don’t stay long in Frederika’s remote Alaskan village. The smell of fish and the lack of amenities drive them away. But Miss Agnes is different. Fred tells the story of Miss Agnes’ time in their village, and how she makes everyone see the world in a new way. Fun and fresh and well told. This is the first pick for the Reading Together Family Exploration Book Club, co-hosted by Jessica and Sheila.
Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier
Gwyneth Shepherd comes from a family of time travelers, but she never expected to become one. But when she suddenly finds herself thrust backward in time, she has a lot to learn: about her own history, a secret lodge of time travelers and an infuriating (but handsome) time-traveling boy. A reread, and so much fun.
Links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.
What are you reading?
To celebrate being married for seven years (and because we really needed a vacation), the hubs and I recently took off for a little trip to Maine.
When we go on vacation, we like to wander and we like to eat. (I also like to sleep in and poke into every bookshop I can find. My morning-person, not-quite-so-book-nerdy husband handles both of these things with great patience.)
We rented a tiny studio apartment in Rockland, a short walk from downtown. There was really just enough room to turn around (or snuggle on the loveseat watching Modern Family on DVD), but it was all we needed for a weekend.
Mid-coast Maine is full of little towns with ridiculously cute Main Streets. We browsed the shops in Rockland and Camden to our hearts’ content: books, toys, yarn, T-shirts, cool things carved out of wood.
The harbor views are stunning.
We also explored the Camden Public Library, because I cannot resist a beautiful library.
We had a delicious dinner at In Good Company, where we shared several small plates: deviled eggs, stuffed peppers with goat cheese, crusty baguette with fancy butter and thin slices of Parmesan.
We also had bowls of gingery carrot-beet soup, and finished with lemon cake drizzled with lemon-thyme syrup.
A little bit fancy and a whole lot delicious.
On Saturday afternoon, we drove to the top of Mount Battie, just outside Camden, for some truly amazing harbor views.
This spot supposedly inspired Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Renascence.”
Ice cream, of course, is an important part of vacation. The wild blueberry ice cream at Lulu’s, in Rockland, was delectable. (J is enjoying strawberry-balsamic sorbet in this picture.)
Sunday was rainy, windy and cold, but we braved the elements and drove to Belfast to meet our friends Isaac and Katelyn for dinner.
We hadn’t seen them in a year, and we spent hours catching up on our lives, first over cups of tea, then over Italian food and glasses of red wine. The best.
We drove back on Monday (stopping in Portland for lunch), relaxed and so happy after four lovely days together.
Yesterday we celebrated seven years of marriage.
It feels like a lifetime (especially since we have been together for nearly 12 years) and a moment, all at once.
We met when we were 18, started dating when we were 20, got engaged at 23 and married at 24. Together, we have weathered most of our undergrad years (in the same town), graduate school (5000 miles apart), a cross-country move, multiple job changes in Texas and Massachusetts, and (most recently) a record-setting New England winter. We have welcomed new nephews and a niece, mourned the loss of friends and family members, served on worship and ministry teams at two very different churches, and traveled to (so far) four non-U.S. countries and multiple states together.
I keep returning to Lindsey’s words from last summer: “Marriage is about abiding. It is about remaining near.” As our careers and other obligations pull us in different directions, the constant work of marriage is to stay near to one another, to pay attention and take care of each other and be kind.
My mother once told me she married my father because he was the kindest person she had ever met. I am glad to be married to a man who is also deeply kind, who is funny and handsome and musical and hard-working, who makes me laugh and whose eyes light up when he sees me.
Happy anniversary, love. Here’s to many more.
When I picked up Delancey, I did look at the subtitle: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage. (It’s right there on the cover, after all.) But I had no idea how accurate it was, particularly the last phrase.
Delancey chronicles the process of opening and running the titular pizza restaurant in Seattle, which Wizenberg co-founded with her husband, Brandon Pettit. But while it is a book about food (and contains a handful of mouthwatering recipes), Delancey is fundamentally a book about marriage.
Early in their relationship, Molly knew her husband was a dreamer. Brandon was always chasing some big idea or other: a violin workshop, an ice cream shop, a career as a composer and music teacher. When he mentioned opening a pizza restaurant, Molly didn’t pay much attention: she thought it was simply another one of his crazy ideas. But when she finally realized Brandon was serious, Molly had to confront the truth: this restaurant would change the rhythm of their family life significantly, and she wasn’t sure she was ready for that.
Tomorrow we will have been married for six years.
We have been together nearly twice as long as that – we dated off and on (mostly on) through the majority of our college years. By the time I headed off to Oxford to earn a graduate degree, with J staying in west Texas to begin his own graduate program, we were engaged. We planned a wedding over nine months, across an ocean – a challenge I do not recommend, but somehow we made it to the wedding day itself, which was beautiful.
Lindsey recently noted on her blog that “marriage is about abiding. It is about remaining near.” I have thought of these words often over the last few weeks, as we circle around each other in the orbits of our workdays, then spend more sustained time together on the weekends and on our recent vacation. (The photo above is from our beach day on PEI.)
The challenge for me is in remaining near even when I am tired and frustrated. The work of marriage (and really, of all relationships) lies in being present, being thoughtful, being kind, when I’d really rather not make the effort. That is love, as surely as flowers and candlelight and elegantly wrapped gifts (though I do enjoy those gestures of romance).
Marriage is listening to my husband’s account of his days and checking in with him to share mine. It’s making plans and compromises, lists and dinner, balancing our priorities and needs and bank accounts. It is taking care of one another in a thousand small ways. It is a process I’m constantly relearning, and I expect to keep learning it for many years to come.
Six years in, we are still toward the beginning (I hope) of several decades together. But they have been good years, and I’m thankful for them – and thankful for the man who’s walked every step beside me.
Happy anniversary, love. Here’s to the next six, and many more.