Here’s the deal, marriage transitions are like a progressive dinner, each course building upon the next to create an unprecedented experience.
Remember starting off with the first course? We arrive at marriage hungry, expectant, ready for whatever lies ahead. Honeymoon bliss is like a smorgasbord of appetizer heaven. So many choices. Such undistracted time. It’s the season of love-struck ooey goey-ness, two full time careers pouring money into a well-intended savings account (I’m still laughing about that one), and the biggest arguments are Which new restaurant should we try? or How come you always want to watch TV when you get home? Our newlywed season brought about ‘Fat and Happy Bryan and Bekah,’ what we called “the best slumber party EVER,” because brownie sundaes led to spontaneous sex that led to more brownie sundaes. Duh.
Then comes the next stop, one we camp at a bit longer. The main course invites challenging careers, buying a home, our first babe, ya know, real life settling into a routine. During this “sit down” part of the progressive dinner, Bryan and I gobbled up “us” time where we could. Living far from family and stepping away from an Event Planning career to stay home with our son, our salary folded in half and we had to get creative with scooping up marriage bites between work and baby fog. The inspiration for “couch dates” began in our new parent season. Often, the best conversations – raw ones spoken from a lack of sleep and no frill filters – brought about the rich stuff, the stuff marriage is worth fighting for. Eating at downtown McPhee’s and sipping from long legged Pinot Noir glasses became “special nights,” while the norm became 2 Buck Chuck and grilled cheese on the couch. Celebrating marriage in everyday doses, not grand events. We touched less in this season, but when we did, it mattered.
Along the way, I’ve discovered some well-intended marriage misconceptions. Once shattered, I realized how breakable they were to begin with. There’s a myth that hovers around ‘two becoming one,’ that I was ignorantly drunk on: Bryan completes me. He’s my other half. Insert horn blowing and red flag waving. Bahaha! We are just two independent, imperfect people choosing to enjoy life together. You throw kids and personalities and financial realities onto the plate and marriage can seem less glamorous than those “early years,” the appetizer course.
But gosh, I love this course. I love being 11 years in. Those early years make the hearty stuff so much richer. Once the bite-size starters were devoured, the next stop meant fat had to be trimmed from the steak. In between chews, we paused, communicated, grew, and went back at it. Every course of this delicious marriage is necessary to creating an intimate relationship.
But you know what makes it all worth while?
Communicating the hard stuff, celebrating the good stuff, and fighting to listen to His voice above ours. As long as we’re taking one small conversation toward each other, we are moving in the right direction. It’s when we stop admitting, sharing, asking and praying, when we allow silent walls to shut one another out, we find ourselves in trouble. We may as well be driving to the next destination in two separate cars. When we aren’t speaking, we are roommates, not best friends choosing to make this relationship called marriage work.
When we get greedy and hog all the good stuff and don’t serve one another first we neglect the part of the meal that’s the best- the conversation, the company.
We want dessert first, but we can’t skip the other courses to get there. The marriage moments when we lean forward to wipe tears and choose not to stomp away mad, the marriage moments we respond instead of react, we ask instead of accuse, these are, in fact, dessert moments. Like the other night, where we just.could.not get on the same page, but we talked and talked and talked some more until we heard where the other was coming from. Doesn’t mean we always agree, but we do chose to look through the other’s perspective.
Whatever transitions and stops and surprises are ahead, whoever greets at the door and whatever simmers on the stove and is poured into glasses, it will be good. I know this because I’m choosing to take the arm of the one I love and taste and learn and fail and know I’m enjoying a marriage that hints at everyday dessert.
Even if it’s not chocolate.