Friday, June 02, 2006

Rambling post about relationships

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of meeting my friend Jeff at Good Dog for a couple of hours while Mark and Noah hung out at the homestead. The big news of the evening is that Jeff just ended a thirteen year relationship. And while it was long overdue, he hadn’t been happy in quite a long time, it’s always so disheartening to hear about someone’s breakup. Recently my friend Patty and her beau split up, as did my brother Jim and Ofelia, the mother of his sons. That seems like a lot of breakups hitting close to home in one clump - is there something about this time of year or are the planets in alignment for relationship strife? Either way, that stinks. And it has me thinking about relationships. Hearing that a couple didn’t make it through is defeating to me. Though I know that over 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, I want to believe that good people that love each other can weather the ravages of daily life and cling together for support rather than fall apart. I want that desperately for myself – a marriage that lasts forever. And being a child of divorce whose parents split up when I was five, I don’t think I had a good role model for how a good marriage works. So here I am just winging it as always.

Missuz J refers to marriage as “juggling porcupines” and while Mark and I might toss one into the air on occasion, I think of our relationship in terms of 90/10. Ninety percent of the time I adore him, thank the heavens for him, and know we’ll grow old together. And during that dreaded ten percent he’s treading on my last nerve and I wish he’d just leave me alone.

Since we’ve had Noah marriage undoubtedly seems harder. We’re occasionally stressed, often tired and in need of a never coming break – and that can take a toll on anyone. And you can’t lash out at the baby – so who else gets it but the spouse? On many days I don’t even see another person to lash out at. Plus the fact that we don’t really have time to do so many of things that brought us together as a couple. A large part of what I loved about Mark from the beginning was that he shared my interests in music, movies, books, dining, travel and politics. And now – well FORGET those. We’re lucky to have the opportunity to chat about Lost and Project Runway. So what brought us together, attracts us to each other, and keeps us together has changed. That is a challenge within itself. Luckily one of the other key components of what brought us together as a couple was that we wanted the same things out of life long term and that hasn’t changed. We both wanted a happy marriage, a city life and a family to share it with. And every day I marvel in wonder at Noah, the prime fruit of those dreams.

Marriage (or any equivlanet long term commitment two people make to one another) is work, undoubtedly. We knew it going in – it was a large part of our discussion with the woman who married us and it was the focus of our ceremony. We’d seen marriages gone wrong up close and personal and we wanted to acknowledge from the start that often it’s an uphill battle and that we were ready. So I guess I shouldn’t feel so crushed when I hear that another couple has lost the fight. But I do. Because certainly each of them thought it was all worth the work. So what brought about that change, and can it happen to us?

I can’t be certain but I believe my 90/10 rule to be fairly normal. No matter how much you love each other, no matter how perfectly matched you are, occasionally your mate is going to drive you nuts. Right? The question is that given the sheer amount of time you spend together and responsibilities you tend to, are you sharing your life with a person who drives you the least amount of nuts. And luckily I’m pretty certain that I am, though when I’m stressed and Mark is stomping on the last tender nerve I have to remind myself. So Mark please remember that I love you even when I’m being a downright snappy bitch who doesn’t seem content with all that we have and all that you do for us. I am. I’m just being crabby becauses sometimes I just am. As we all are. Right?

So here is to our getting through it and doing it together. And to you too.


lonna said...

So much of this post resonates with me. Ethan and I were lucky that both of our parents are still together and both couples have been through a lot. So we've had good role models. But since we've had Dermot so much has changed. We're both so tired and we never get to do anything for ourselves. We're like you, before Dermot our shared interests were going to movies, shows, finding off the beaten track stuff, and eating at new restaurants. We're not able to do much of that either. In fact, we usually end up squeezing that stuff in during the day while he's at daycare since our jobs don't require set hours. That will be changing in NJ and we'll have to adapt again. I think a lot of this is knowing that you're going to constantly be adapting and to be open minded. I know there are times when I'm horrible to Ethan and he's horrible to me. We're usually able to eventually discuss it and find the underlying cause, but until that big, uncomfortable talk we can be pretty miserable because it's usually something unrelated to what it looks like on the surface. I think that your awareness of the difficulties and how you two personally need to deal with them will get you far. A lot of couples are the least happy in their marriages when they have toddlers and when they have teenagers. I've been told that the grade school years are pretty sweet, and I'm hanging onto that hope pretty hard.

patrice said...

it's like you're sharing my brain. we really need to get together and talk.

I have rarely seen two people so well matched for each other, so in love, as you and mark. it's not a french-kissing-and-calling-each-other-pookie love, it's a deeper, more meaningful (and seemingly longer lasting) love.

something I hope for for myself.

OldMotherHubbardSharesAll said...

Not that you in anyway asked for advice: Nor did I when we were first married - however I'm going to share with you two pieces of advice that has helped me get to our 27th anniversary.

1: Don't marry a man that you can live with - marry a man you can't live without. (for most of us in a relationship already it's too late to use that as a measuring stick but whenever times get ROUGH I think of what it would be like without Randy.)

2: Always make time for your friendship - we were friends when we married and we have been friends ALL Along the way. Just like any friendship in order for it to grow you must take time to cultivate it. Granted it is hard with little ones - it is not impossible just hard - one way Randy and I did this is to make sure we had a DATE night every month. (We traded off babysitting with friends - left them with family - or we put them in front of the TV with a pizza and we ate in the kitchen and TALKED.) Rule number 1 is that we CANNOT discuss the kids more than 20% of the time.

Believe me this hasn't been easy - there have been many times I've decided that it was easier to quit than to fight but somewhere deep inside I found the strength to FIGHT!

Does this mean that next week when he's in town again I won't want to choke him - NO it just means that I love him enough (like I did with the kids when they were teenagers) to NOT CHOKE HIM!

Katiemagic said...

I think your 90/10 rule is spot on, with Kent and I at least. It's just been a little more like 85/15 in the last couple of months.

It's such a delicate balance, I haven't come close to mastering it yet.

Here's to the 90%

Missuz J said...

90:10 is a goal for me, but I'm so glad that it's status quo for you. Guess that's it.