Marriage, or should I say as a good Princess Bride fan, Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togeder tooday…
Today’s prompt is “Whose marriage did you admire? Why? How has it influenced your own marriage?”
Before I answer the prompt, a note about writing. I remember hearing an interview with Kristen Bell after she co-wrote The Zimzum of Love, a book about marriage incidentally, with her husband who was already an experienced writer. She said the thing that surprised and impressed her the most was Rob’s willingness to delete words that weren’t working, whole pages, big paragraphs, sentences that he had spent hours crafting and trying to get right.
My response today is short because I deleted most of it. I still like the points I was trying to make, but I couldn’t make peace with how to say them or the examples I used to illustrate them. This is a blog about writing, not a finished piece for a publisher, so I’m done trying to get it right, and I leave you the words that I think do work. This, of course, means that if you feel prompted to respond to this question about marriage, you have permission to be brief and imperfect, too! Actually, you always have that permission.
I didn’t have a hard time responding because there are no marriages I admire. Perhaps there are too many to choose from. I didn’t have a hard time because my own marriage is not exemplary. Perhaps I am too much in the middle of it to have the right perspective. I believe in the power of marriage to birth more love into this world. I selected this prompt because I want us to share wisdom about marriage, and if the words do come for you, I really want to hear anything you would tell your younger self about marriage.
Here are some of my thoughts.
When I was younger I was enamored with romantic stories. I spent too much time with my head buried in Victorian era novels. I held my breath for Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy to finally get together. I gladly rode the roller coaster of romantic guesswork with the Dashwood girls. I soaked up a biography of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning whom I admired for her progressive ideas and prolific publishing success but also for her true love story. How romantic that Robert Browning admired her work and insisted on meeting her! How much passion must they have had to elope and move to Italy? But the shadow side of her story is that her father disowned her for it. I still enjoy a good romantic comedy, all things Jane Austen, any good love story. But fifteen years and three kids into my own marriage, I have a lot less interest in being swept off my feet and a lot more admiration for people who navigate the real ups and downs of daily life with grace and love.
We discovered recently that we have mice in our kitchen. I hear it’s a common problem where we live, but that doesn’t make it better. This past Sunday, after changing our clothes and talking about what we’d have for lunch, we discovered that the two we’d trapped weren’t the last. Gerry pulled everything out of the cabinets and found what we think is the entry point. The kids and I went to the hardware store for some foam and a bunch of science fair materials we needed. Gerry cleaned out every cabinet and drawer, foamed up the hole, and paid the kids to hand-wash the appliances and kitchen tools that he’d pulled out. We took a break to watch Meet the Press on our bedroom floor and then have frozen pizza and leftovers for dinner. After dinner, he looked at the pots and pans still on the counter and said, “There isn’t that much left. I’ll take care of these. You go help with the science fair project.”
It wasn’t the day we planned. Certainly not the one we wanted. But the next morning was a new day. There was no evidence that any critters crawled around our kitchen while we slept. And there are five neatly packed containers of food ready to be carefully observed by our studious fourth grader as they decompose over the next month (and hopefully do not attract more mice!). This is life. Messy, full of unpleasant surprises, and some pleasant ones, too. I know the day will come when mice will seem like the least of our troubles, but those who are faithful with little can be entrusted with much. We’re in it together, whatever this life brings. It’s not always romantic, but it’s worth everything.
Ok, my friends, I want to hear from you! Whose marriage did you admire? Why? How has it influenced your own relationship? You can delete your heart out and email whatever is left of your response to email@example.com