Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some things were meant to be.

Love does not consist in gazing at 
each other, but in looking outward 
together in the same direction. 
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Candid photo of us chatting 
out the window to our neighbor

My niece Anna was born the day Adam and I had our first date.  I got the call from my sister on the way home from work.  It was raining lightly that spring evening, I took a taxi to the restaurant.  I saw him standing outside the entrance, I waved from across the street.  In such situations the usual thing would be to shake hands, but for some reason I gave him a hug.  It turned out Adam also had a niece named Anna, as we ate we discovered other coincidences.  I thought he was funny, he liked my laugh.  It seemed an auspicious beginning.  

It wasn’t long before we were spending six nights a week together, three at his place, three at my place, the seventh a Sandwich Night, spent separately.  Living together followed that fall.  Fast forward, this week we celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary!

Holiday 20?? with our friend Christina at a bar / restaurant on Lincoln near Trader Joe's (before TJ's). She called us "The Charnlowski's"

It seems longer than six years. It seems hard to remember a time before Adam.
In some regards, I count that meeting almost ten years ago as the Beginning of Us.  By the time of the wedding, we had already combined our lives, purchased a house together, had shared pets.  The wedding was a formality.  I don’t mean to discount the significance of marriage,  or the impact of the wedding itself.  I value the weight of marriage, the all-in commitment.  Although neither of us are really wedding people, we had a church wedding with reception following, and we didn't dash off to City Hall.  I wasn't the sort of little girl that dreams of her wedding day, but as a grown woman I understood the value of honoring tradition.  It was wonderful to see everyone, but, in my opinion, it’s better to attend someone else’s wedding.  All the fun, less hectic!  In the following year people would ask, “So, how is married life?”  We weren't sure how to answer, pre- and post-married life looked and felt much the same, the main difference was my last name.  

While I’m not in any rush to get older myself, like the kid wanting to be an adult, I want us to be celebrating a higher year anniversary.  My middle sister and husband just celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary.  My youngest sister and Adam’s sister both met their husbands in college.  So much shared history, a lot of overlapping life.  There is warmth and familiarity in the quantity of shared experiences.  A friend once said she thought there is added respectability once a marriage reaches the seven year mark.  

Any yet....  I know there are things I wouldn’t have done if Adam was in my life earlier.  Things I love, and wouldn’t trade.  The life I lived on my own made me the person I am.  The universe has a plan, and it all happened in due time.   

February 2010, Anna Maria Island, FL - one of our very favorite 
places at one of our favorite restaurants.  

I’ve been pondering what makes a successful marriage, what makes it go the distance.  As birthdays are a natural time to reflect upon your life, anniversaries are a good time to review the State of the Marriage Union.  Additionally this year, a few weeks ago we learned a dear loved one is getting divorced from his wife.  We were completely shocked.  Floored!  From the outside, they were a couple completely in love.  I always described them as “smitten.”  They spent time working on their relationship, going to couple’s retreats, leading a couples’ group, etc.  Both older and previously married, it was a thoughtful undertaking.  Married only a few months less that us, what went wrong?  How can we avoid similar?  

Marriage is looking forward, together.  Two whole people, content with themselves, having a shared vision and dream, holding similar values and expectations.  Day by day, building a life.   Not losing sight of the individuals, not being cloistered or love-blind, each partner bolstering, supporting, and cheerleading for the other.  Adam has always supported me in my endeavors, and there have been many in the course of our relationship!  I knew Adam was “the one” because he fully accepted me as I was.   As Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Committed:

“People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.”

Marriage, like life, is a work in progress.  It’s continuously calibrating the balance between independence and connectedness.  What makes our marriage successful and happy today may be different in the coming years.  Whatever that looks like, I am joyful to be traveling along this path with Adam.  I have faith we will find the answers as we need them.  As Ms. Gilbert also says in Committed, “Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone.”

Christmas 2011, Lake Geneva, WI

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