Tag Archives: Marriage

26 Years

26 years ago, we eloped, both wore green, got married in a mountain town called Evergreen. The only reason we even have pictures is our roommate showed up with a disposable camera. Four years ago, I wrote a Facebook post that I thought for sure I’d turned into a blog post and shared here, but I can’t find it, so…

Something you might not know about me: I got married for the first time when I was only 18. He was my boyfriend the last few years of high school. He loved me and wanted to marry me, was moving to Arizona for school and wanted me to come with him. I loved him enough, wanted out of my parents’ house and away from the small town I’d grown up in, so I agreed to it, the marriage and the move. We were actually a terrible match, and what I never told him, what almost no one knows, is I almost bolted on our wedding day, would have if I’d had the guts.

I was thinking about it this morning because there was a short piece on NPR in which they played clips of songs by Crowded House and The Psychedelic Furs, music I still love (am listening to as I write this). I loved bands like Depeche Mode, Erasure, The Cure, and Tears for Fears. That first, failed husband’s favorite band was Iron Maiden. We were doomed. We only lived together about a year and a half before my beloved Auntie T offered me an out and I left.

Some years later, I met Eric. He listened to the same bands I did, and introduced me to reggae and musicians like Jimmy Cliff. He had earrings, wore patchouli, and read books. He felt like home. This is all making me think how sometimes it can take a really long time, many failed attempts to find the right fit, to land in the place that is home. Sometimes it seems like it will never happen and we lose our will to keep going. I can’t tell you what to do, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up.

In the past few years, I’ve written a few posts about being married to Eric:

  • Committed, where I described what I think it means to find the right person. “I can’t say what might work for you, don’t mean for this to be some kind of advice or set of rules to be married by, but these are the things that have kept me in it, all in, for the past 18 years.”
  • 20 years, one of my favorite posts, in which I wrote about how Eric makes me laugh and comforts me when I don’t feel like laughing.
  • Day of Rest, where I tried to describe what love is.  “When you are together for a long time, there’s more than one marriage. Hard things happen, and you have to work through them. You get remarried over and over because you keep choosing each other, continue to recommit. And Eric and I have had hard things, and we know that those things will keep coming. Just because we’ve been together a long time doesn’t mean things get easier. You don’t reach a point where it’s simple and you don’t have to try that hard — or at least we don’t. What does happen is you start to relax your agenda about how things should be, and instead work with what is. You relax with what is, you soften, and you find that in being with what is, you can be content, that in this moment there is more than enough. This is love.”
  • 21 Years, in which I said, “I’m not even sure how that happened, how living our life together day by day has already added up, amounted to that…He makes me laugh, he’s my comfort, my soft place to land. He’s my favorite, my family, my best friend, the problem I chose to have, the choice I make over and over, day after day.”
  • Day of Rest: 23 Years In, in which I shared, “Not much has changed in 23 years, unless you count just about everything. At the beginning, I thought by this point that if we made it this far together things would be easy. I didn’t understand that adulting would be so hard, that so many awful things would happen, to us and around us. I thought I was stronger, saner. I thought if I was with him, if we were together, the ordinary magic of that would surround us, protect us from the bad stuff. And yet it has, in a way. I’m not sure if I’d still be here if it weren’t for his love and support, the way he makes me laugh. The partnership, the rub of having someone always there, can at times be irritating, but it’s also the glue that keeps it all from falling apart.”
  • 24 Years, in which I wondered, “Here we are, just living our lives like it’s no big deal — making each other laugh, getting irritated about stupid stuff that doesn’t even matter, doing the laundry and making dinner and walking the dogs — and suddenly we’ve been married for 24 years.”

And here we are, 26 years later, still choosing each other, still taking care of each other, still making each other laugh.

Something Good.

I think I might have already mentioned this, but when I am feeling bad, I will often ask Eric to “tell me something good.”  When I need something to hang on to, to make me feel better, something to show me that it’s not all bad.  When I am in that dark hole, way down at the bottom, and the mean things with teeth are down there with me–“tell me something good.”

Picture by Cubby

He’s really good at it, because even when all he can think of is “I love you,” it totally works.  I mean, how great is it that the person that you picked and who said “yes” eighteen years ago, and knows you better than anyone, knows all the embarrassing and ugly stuff, continues to love you?  He usually is able to give me a whole list when I ask him, followed by a hug and “what can I do for you, how can I make you feel better?”

But wait–this isn’t a post about how great Eric is, even though that’s true.  This post is about a new Monday feature I’m starting today on this blog: Something Good.  I like the idea of gratitude generating joy, and the opportunity my gratitude has to spread joy when I share the good things.

Here’s today’s list:

  • Monday Morning Yoga. For the past four and a half years, I have been going to a 6:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning yoga class.  The teachers have remained the same, and there are two other people, along with a rotating cast of about 10-15 others, who have also attended for all that time.  It is a constant comfort, while it continues to challenge me to keep changing and evolving.  These classes were the beginnings of my yoga practice, and I am so grateful.
  • My Dogs. I promise I won’t list them every week, but I totally could.  These furry boys are at the center of my life, and live right in the middle of my heart.  And Obi might be physically gone, but he is still with me, with us.
  • Kind Over Matter.  This is on of my favorite websites.  It is a collection of daily goodness that comforts and inspires me.  There was a guest post today, “Be the Rabbit” that was so great, made me think of my dogs and helped me to think of another strategy for taking better care of myself.  “Kind Over Matter is a place that is filled with kindness, inspiration, creativity, truth, gentleness & love.” Amen.
  • Blogtoberfest. This event challenges bloggers to post to their blog every day in October.  It was perfect timing for me, because I had just started this blog, and committing to daily posts gave me the discipline and inspiration to really get this thing off the ground.  I might have already faltered if not for Blogtoberfest, but with it, I feel settled and connected to this practice, and can already see it’s value, shared and internalized.
  • Writing This Blog. Writing publicly and daily is really good writing practice, and as I have mentioned before, people like Malcolm Gladwell (who wrote Outliers: The Story of Success) would argue that it takes some 10,000 hours of dedication to a craft or profession to become an “expert,” so the more practice, the better.

And also, a few times in the past weeks, as I have been writing a post, a line emerges that shifts things for me.  Yesterday, it was this one: “it’s actually my heart that is starving and this is not going to feed it, never going to satisfy that hunger no matter how much I eat.”  Holy Wow.  It feels like there’s this deep wisdom bubbling up, and this practice gives it space, power, a voice.

  • A moment of gratitude from one of my favorite movies, Joe Vs. the Volcano: “Dear God, whose name I do not know – thank you for my life. I forgot how big… thank you. Thank you for my life.”
  • Your turn: tell me something good.

All I got right now is “try.”

Last night, while checking my blog stats, I realized that someone had unsubscribed from my blog.  I spent a frantic ten minutes tracking down who it was–thankfully it wasn’t someone who knows me “in real life.”  And yet, I still felt sad.  Why don’t they like me?

I told Eric, and he said “So? You don’t care do you?”  Well, kind of.  I want people to like what I’m doing.  He said “I thought you were doing this for yourself?”  I am, but if I didn’t care what anyone thought, I wouldn’t do it quite so publicly.  I want people to read it, I want an audience.  I want people to think it’s worth reading.

I want people to like me…

Ah, there it is.  The problem, the central issue, the heart of the matter.  I don’t want to be famous, I want to be adored.  I want permission, I want approval.  And it hurts so much more to get rejected for who you really are and what you really care about.  In an article in the January 2011 issue of fear.less magazine, the author Steven Pressfield says “I think we’re all terrified of that, to be what we’re meant to be. Because then all the responsibility lays on us and we can’t hide behind anything.”

And yet, once I realized who had unsubscribed, it made sense.  She was a 20 year old student from New York who loves books and reading and who’d found my blog because of a post I’d written about how much I loved reading.  She thought that this was a blog about reading, the love of the word.  And it is, in part.  But, I’m sure that my posts this weekend about death, cancer, and marriage freaked her out a little.  This wasn’t what she’d signed up for.

But it is what I’ve signed up for. I am going to show up, I am going to try. I don’t want to stop, and there is still work to do–great work if I can just figure out exactly what. So, here I am: all in. The habitual numbing out that I have practiced for so many years is sticky and I feel claustrophobic in my stinky little cocoon where I’ve spent most of my time. It isn’t working anymore. Something has to change. I have to save my own life.

Committed

These are two pictures of Eric and I back in May of 1993, the week I flew out to Colorado so we could figure out what this “thing” was between us. The last day I was there, Eric said to me: “I think I’m falling in love with you.” And I said, “I have been trying to tell you the same thing all week.”

Six months later, exactly 18 years ago today, we got married. We eloped, getting married at the Evergreen Memorial Park in Evergreen Colorado.  I asked him yesterday, and he said he’d marry me again. 

This morning, when we were out walking the dogs, I asked him what he thought it took to stay married, and be content in that marriage, for 18 years.  Our lists were almost identical.

Here’s what we know for sure: marry the right person.  Eric says that’s half of what makes it work and I’d agree, start by making a good choice and you can withstand most of what might come later.

Some of it’s pure magic, something you just know in the pit of your stomach. But in some practical ways, the right person:

*Fits you physically. The issue here is that if you stay together long enough, you’ll eventually get old and saggy and maybe fat and you’ll know each others grossest habits, so you need something to start with that can sustain you, but also an acceptance that things evolve and change over time.

The first time I kissed Eric, I knew that he was it for me.  I had already suspected so, but that sealed it. I felt like I was falling into him, and I didn’t want to come back out, ever. It was almost two years before I could be in the same room with him and not have to be touching him.

Over time, it becomes about more than the actual body, is the body of your experience with that person, someone you love so completely, who has been such a good friend to you–you just want to hold them, feel the warmth of their aliveness against you when it’s cold, reminding you again of love, comfort, possibility and promise.

*Balances out your strengths and weakness so that as a unit, you are functional.  You are able to help each other manifest good things, to have a good life together.  When a couple is mismatched, you can see it in all the ways that their lives seem to spin out and get stuck, those couples that are always fighting, frustrated, failing, that seem to have a black cloud hanging over them.  Most of the time, Eric and I can be each others balance.  He can be happy and cheer me up when I am depressed, I can be stable when he’s feeling impulsive.  I can calm him when he’s worried, and he can comfort me when I’m hurt. Together, we are so much more than we would have been alone.

*Shares your values.  Having the same ideas about money, kids, or religion will save you a lot of trouble, especially since for many people, these dearly held values aren’t something they’ll be willing or able to compromise.  There is so much Eric and I agree on, and that builds a foundation, a safe place for the spots where we disagree.

*Someone who lets you be who you are, who supports and loves who you are.  You don’t want a partner who micromanages you, but you also want them involved.  I don’t have to like running to support Eric’s love of it, and he doesn’t have to practice yoga to appreciate what it does for me. We also don’t have to beat each other up when we are struggling.  We stay steady, strong, and silent if necessary.  We celebrate the success, and we comfort the struggle.

*Makes time for you, is present. Being with you, knowing you, being connected is a priority, a necessity. Pays attention and can see when you need help.

*Wants the best for you, wants you to be happy and alive.  Doesn’t have to understand entirely or agree to let you have, be, do what you need–unless, of course, what you need is someone else, abusive or illegal 🙂

*Makes you laugh. Eric is able to do this so well and I can’t really explain it.  It’s not that he’s super funny, but he’s funny to me.  And he loves to make me laugh, so is always trying.  For example, last night, we were following a car with the license plate “MIDWIF,” and he said “midwhiff?” and cracked me up.  Encouraged, he read the license plate frame, which said “Honk if you are having a home birth” and said, in the goofiest voice, “I’m having one right now!”  It didn’t even really make any sense, but it cracked me up.

*Isn’t mean. You treat each other with basic kindness.  For example, I told Eric once I hated to come to bed when he was already asleep and it was dark, something about it depressed me.  So you know what he does if he gets in bed before me?  He turns on my book light and leaves it on my pillow.  And he leaves me love notes all the time, just to cheer me up.

*Is able to commit.  All in, sticking around, willing to keep at it, not looking or waiting for something “better.”

I can’t say what might work for you, don’t mean for this to be some kind of advice or set of rules to be married by, but these are the things that have kept me in it, all in, for the past 18 years. 

  • Like yesterday, dear, kind and gentle reader, when I wished for you your own Kelly, today I wish for you your own Eric.