Saturday, July 02, 2005

Wedded Blitz

A year or so ago, at the Day Job, a customer was ordering something for his aunt and uncle's 62nd wedding anniversary. I said, "Wow, 62 years, that's amazing."

The customer said, "It's really amazing. If you were around them for a few minutes, you'd never believe they'd been married 62 years."

So I'm thinking they must be one of those lovey-dovey older couples and I'm all set to roll out the "aww, how cute" when the guy continues, "Yeah, if you were around them for a few minutes, you'd wonder how they hadn't killed each other a long time ago."

In Dennis Lehane's book
"Mystic River," Annabeth (Laura Linney, in the movie) is talking to Sean (Kevin Bacon) about marriage: "The person you love is rarely worthy of how big your love is. Because no one is worthy of that love and maybe no one deserves the burden of it, either. You'll be let down. You'll be disappointed and have your trust broken. You'll have a lot of real sucky days. You lose more than you win. You hate the person you love as much as you love him. But, shit, you roll up your sleeves and work--at everything--because that's what growing older is."

I was watching the movie
"Alfie" starring Jude Law the other night. There is a scene in the urologist's restroom (where Alfie has gone while waiting to find out the results of the biopsy of a lump on his, um, penis). There is an older man there, Joe, who has just lost his wife of many years. As they're concluding their small talk, Alfie apologizes to Joe for his loss. Joe says, "We weren't all that fond of each other, but we were very close if you know what I mean." Alfie says he does, but having never been married, I'm not sure he possibly can.

I, on the other hand, have been married 18 years as of Monday and I get it, I totally get it. Love and marriage may go together like a horse and carriage, but neither one of them is getting anywhere without all sorts of other accessories: patience, compromise, and for whole stretches of time, just plain endurance. Does that sound cynical? Or just pragmatic?

Either way, it's true. But there are some other things that are true, too. Sometimes he gives me a look and I still get that giddy-tickle feeling in the pit of my stomach. Sometimes at the end of a long day, it is the greatest comfort in the world to come home to someone who knows every wart, flaw and blemish, physical and emotional, and will give me a big hug anyway. Sometimes it feels like a gift just to have someone so familiar to hug back at the end of the day.

In the end, I wouldn't trade a minute of it--the good, the bad, the morning breath--because to change one tiny detail puts all the rest in jeopardy. It's a package deal, every moment depends upon all the moments that came before it. Until all of a sudden, there are 18 years of moments behind you and, you hope, many more moments to come.


  1. I know what you mean. My wife and I will have been married for 15 years this October, been together for almost 20. At our wedding, when we were exchanging vows, we read the passage about marriage from Kahlil Gibran's book, "The Prophet". Everyone thought we were nuts, but we are the only ones still married. He describes a couple in marriage as two columns, needing to be separate for a strong foundation. I think those are the ones that last.

  2. This post rings so true to my experience. Thank you for writing it!