Tonight, we sit out on the veranda, you and I, while candles flicker quietly at our feet. Three citronella in pots reduce to liquid. I say I like the smell, and you mistakenly think that I have given you a compliment. “It’s the smell of the river,” you say. And it’s true. You do smell like the great outdoors. No where makes you happier than right here. The land, the water, the sky. Home.
While the moon shines full and creamy-white in the night sky, we push gently with our feet the old porch swing. A relic to our earlier years. It has survived four babies, and many years. It has often been a coming home of sorts for me- a place to unwind after a hectic day at work. Tonight, it is an evening respite from the quickly approaching bedtime witching hour. We sip from fine crystal goblets while behind us, inside, the two youngest watch their show. The kittens are finally getting a well-deserved break from the man-handling of the day, piled they are on top of each other under the hostas.
We think we have it made.
Our first date of the summer.
Sometimes I wonder how we ever survived. How we managed to stay the course thus far. How we got here: to now.
We are in the teenage years of our marriage. Years where there is little time to connect. Precious little. A time of life where the children drive the comings and goings of this house. Where life begins with chatter and ends with one crouched over a computer keyboard, while the other unwinds with Netflix. A time of life where mealtimes are often a battle ground, where electronics are chosen over toys and where parents are sometimes (often) embarrassing. These are the days of our lives. We are in the late summer of life, both literally and figuratively.
How we manage to keep this boat afloat is one part mystery and one part sheer tenacity.
Our marriage works because we are committed to keeping it going. It works because we are determined to see the best in one another. And it has lasted this long because we are willing to compromise on those things in life that don’t really matter anyway.
I don’t often write about marriage. I don’t reveal a whole lot about something that has taken nineteen years to cultivate and grow. It is precious. It is private. But I should write more. Because making this marriage work has been the single most amazeballs feat that you and I have done in the years we have developed our lasting relationship.
We should never have lasted this long. The odds are definitely stacked heavily against us.
I am cut from one kind of cloth and you from another. We are that different. Like chalk and cheese.
But we are determined. Here’s something I read today and it will help explain my own personal philosophy of marriage: when angry words fly and it seems the house is about to burn down from the combustible energy being exuded, what can save a marriage is “tapping into empathy”, “taking tone out of the equation”…so as to get to the heart of what the other is saying.
Understanding one another.
Knowing that larger than life “fire and smoke” displays are sometimes merely a cover for something else. Something more tender. More vulnerable. Something so fragile it might be hidden from plain view. From the naked eye. And then. When that which was hidden is then revealed, it is the seeing beyond the obvious so as to understand the deeper that makes hope possible. That is where true empathy lies.
I use to think love was romance. I am older now and know better. Love is a choice. And it is a conscious decision we make each and every day to choose kindness over spite. To listen and speak. And to hold on even while we are held in the strong Hands of One who knows us intimately.
That and so much more is what has enabled us to stay the course in this journey thus far. And it is what will keep our hearts tightly bound when the seasons change.