Friday, October 10, 2014

On 27 Years of Marriage

Thinner, more attractive...and very, very stupid
Anniversaries tend to uncork all sorts of sloppy sentimentality that almost loses its meaning in triteness. And, yes, I know how cynical that sounds.

Let's just say I don't do goo and treacle and I really don't want to be trite. As of 1 p.m. today, I've been married 27 years and, quite frankly, it hasn't been all Ozzie and Harriet and The Cosbys around here. To cheapen the journey by saying "It's been a wild ride" -- or something equally dismissive -- seems disingenuous.

I'll admit that I married for the romance. It really was going to be "a wild ride." I wasn't going to let life turn me and my husband into just an old married couple marking time until death. We were going to be foxtrotting into our elder years without ever resorting to polyester clothing or early bird specials. I would be his obsession and he would be my rock. We would have explosively spectacular fights and monumental reconciliations.We would be F. Scott and Zelda (before the insanity); Tracey and Hepburn (without the adultery); Bogart and Bacall (without the spousal abuse).

Then we grew up and life happened. I found out that when life kicks you in the gut, you don't have time to look like Lauren Bacall or Katherine Hepburn or have the words to express what you are feeling like F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is when it stops being a "wild ride" and starts being dragged down a gravel road hooked to a speeding car.

When life kicks you in the gut you look like hell and you sound like an insane maniac, and sometimes you say and do things you never thought you would say or do, let alone to someone you love. I know, in the teeth of the storm, I retreat into myself; the shades get drawn and my "pithy sarcasm" turns nasty and bitter. Chuck, meanwhile, lives in a happy state of denial and watches a lot of "Restaurant Impossible."

Every couple has their process.

And you love each other through it all, at the base of it all, even when you wouldn't call it love. It's when you have to remember to love; when, for me, I resort to my faith (Matthew 18:21-22) and my belief in the institution of marriage as something that you commit to not only for "worse," but even the worst of the worse*.

Perhaps there are couples who will attest to having the type of relationship I aspired to 27 year ago. If you do, God bless -- I pray you are never tested. I don't say that to be condescending. I say it because I doubt there is any couple that has a marriage that has never been challenged by something. And I say it because I am a better person and we are a stronger couple for the testing.

So if you were expecting some sentimental goo about 27 years of marriage, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I'll keep my sentimentality between me and Chuck -- because he won't tell anyone that I'm not the erudite pragmatist I pretend to be.

*...okay, of course abuse would be an exception; but not even a flicker of consideration in my
case because, frankly, I can take him.