My friend, Sarah, created a three pronged litmus for picking your “person:”
- You like who they are inside the relationship
- You like who they are outside the relationship
- They make you a better person
After knowing Nat for 24 years and being married for 15 of them, this list is spot on. It is so easy to lose track of these main things when you are so busy living with somebody by your side on a daily basis. It’s the luckiest thing in my life, that I landed this guy, but it’s amazing to me that marriage doesn’t get easier--and maybe it even gets harder.
I have such a clear memory of standing at our wedding and listening to my Rabbi talk about the work of marriage, and how it would always be there to tackle. At 27 years old that sounded outright silly to me. I felt like we had already done our work, having overcome our religious differences, having lived in a small town in Georgia together, and bridging so many small differences in our personalities. My inner feeling that we would just go forward, mostly in synch, has been especially challenged in the last few years. My 40s have been very unsettling to me. It feels like so many of the big decisions have been made and we are looking back at those choices from where we live, to the jobs we do and the shape of our family. I feel like I should have more brain space and even time in the day, as the kids get older, but that isn’t quite happening, either. We are so busy getting the kids to activities, and packing lunches for the next day and planning out calendars to make all the things happen that it’s so hard to get to conversations that are about more than just the logistics.
Having kids has been like getting hit by a giant wave and as it recedes a little, with the passing of time, there’s me and Nat still standing there, even if a little shell shocked. I like that image, of being left behind with Nat, but it’s scary that even after all this time, and despite all the things that are ours together, we have as many differences as we have similarities. Planning Lily’s Bat Mitzvah has certainly brought up our different religious backgrounds all over again. Nat is an equal parent in buying challah for shabbat and driving hebrew school carpool, but we had hours of fights this Summer just talking about why we would invite his whole extended family for this occasion. The fighting began when he blithely referred to the event as a “13 year old birthday party” when, to me, a bat mitzvah is a much bigger moment to be realized and to be witnessed by both of our tribes. This is some of the work of marriage, remembering that we are still two people, side by side.
I have often reminded friends who are struggling in their romantic relationships that it the tallest order of all to love and to like somebody. This is what gets lost in the hustle and bustle of family life. That you have to be able to forgive the guy who forgot to pick up toilet paper on the way home--you even need to still find that same guy sexy, at a later time. Sometimes just getting through the day absolutely makes me forget that this guy is the one I would pick all over again, despite all the work--maybe because of the work, and the fact that he is still doing it with me.
And then he goes and does a big thing, and people will even get to see this one! After working on it for years now, in dribs and drabs, Nat finished this amazing Philly city-scape design over the Summer.
I hope when I see it in the store it reminds me that he is still working so hard to do the extra to make my life complete, even when the day to day takes the most out of us. I feel so grateful.