Saturday, October 23, 2010
Finding Balance in Marriage
Our trip away was good for our marriage. It didn't have to be to a different continent...it could simply have been to another town.
We've been married for 21 years. Those years have been filled with ups and downs, job changes, major moves, babies born, illnesses, teenagers (!), kids growing up and moving out, and a host of other things.
Throughout it all, we've managed to stay strong. Even though there have been times when we doubted we could. As if splitting up a marriage could ever really fix life stressors! I think there are just simply times when you get the urge to start over- fresh and simple. It's actually so much easier to re-evaluate life together and simplify from there. Companionship and friendship, affection and patience...you have to be on the same page.
I've seen so many marriages fail- most, I think, from selfishness in one form or another. I see so many disintegrating because of these hard economic times. I am amazed- when the hard times come, you need each other more than ever before! As a child of divorce, I know that children are horribly affected- even if the divorce is amicable. Never again will life be the same- never again will there be the unity there once was. It's a sad thing.
(I realize, of course, there are times when divorce may be the only answer.)
Visiting Ireland and driving there added a stress we'd not yet experienced. The Man of the House has always been about protecting his loved ones. He and I are both very sensitive to the weight of responsibility. At times, too much so. On this trip he felt the weight of driving us safely wherever we wanted to go. (We, as in myself, my mother and sister.)
When I arrived back in the US, my first impression was that things are so organized. Roads and driving, in particular. Over there, the roads are narrow and windy for the most part. But that's just the beginning.
You are driving on the left, in the right side of the car. Luckily, they gave us a cheaper upgrade on an automatic as driving a manual would have been much harder. You begin to get the hang of driving in this manner- and then you're dealing with round-a-bouts with four exits off them- written in Gaelic... and English if you're lucky.
You get the hang of that....and then you're dealing with crazy oncoming traffic. Traffic that takes up their lane and half of yours. You find yourself driving into the shrubbery in order to stay alive. You begin to notice that most cars in Ireland have large scrapes down the sides- from rubbing against other cars.
People may park along any roadside- in any direction they like. Often, you drive around a bend only to find someone has parked in the middle of the road and taken off up a hill to chat with a friend or take pictures. No one ever looks as if they are sorry to be taking up the entire lane. It's just how it is.
And then you get to the single lane roads and realize everyone still drives the same.
During this stressful driving, my sister and I navigate with maps. The Man of the House, in the beginning, is so stressed he barks at me when I try to help- "Watch out- that car is pulling out!"- and when I don't because he has shushed me in a rude way and told me he is aware of everything already. I can't win.
So I tell him this and then I feel angry and clench my teeth in silence. And maybe sulk a little.
Each evening, as we retire to bed, we talk.
We have always had our best conversations late at night. There have been many times we've stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning; laughing and snuggling and re-evaluating our family and lives. It's wonderful. And the weariness the next day is worth it.
So each night, the Man of the House apologizes for his behavior, relates the horrible stresses he's feeling and aims to do better. Sometimes he does, other days he misses the mark.
Still, because we are alone each evening, without children and duties, we have the opportunity to talk it over. We go over our goals, what we want out of life, what we need from each other. It's good.
Each day we are seeing amazing things, experiencing an adventure together, creating memories.
We realize that after 21 years, we are still learning about each other, growing together as a couple, and just trying to find our way.
In my humble opinion, it takes faith in God, a lot of communication (and years to get some men to communicate!), a lot of patience, a strong sense of the same values and only one person being crazy at a time. (With the other supporting the crazy one.)
Marriage is a blessing from our Father in Heaven. Man and woman compliment and balance each other. It's up to us to find the balance, to work at it and realize the fruit of our labors. You truly appreciate something when you've worked hard for it.
We make our marriage (and our family) the highest priority. By doing this, we are able to withstand those trials that come our way. Life is not perfect, but we're in it together!