Friday, July 27, 2012

Marriage at a New Age

Our marriage is now old enough to buy alcoholic beverages in New York.

Twenty-one years ago, my husband and I got married. Like a newborn, our marriage was exciting and a little scary, had occasional bouts of colic, and didn't always sleep well through the night. Like any new parents, we just wanted it to be healthy. We had never shared living space before. I had never even lived away from my parents. He had been living on his own in apartments for a while. We had to learn how to live together. I think it's normal to tiptoe around a new marriage, wondering if it's OK, gently holding it through the night. The marriage grows. It starts to walk.

Then you are together for a few years. A marriage in its toddler age can be bumpy. We had our first child when our marriage was entering its terrible twos. Stress from financial concerns and days without sleep can make a couple irritable. Marriage can be impatient at this stage. I wanted to live closer to family. I wanted a house. It can demand attention, and really, it needs attention to keep it out of trouble. There is a testing of limits, learning to work together, lots of cuddling and scraped knees. The marriage grows. It starts to understand.

After the toddler stage, a marriage begins to understand that you aren't its enemy and things smooth out a bit as we enter the school years. Make no mistake, even if you are homeschooling your marriage, there are lots of tests and worries about grades. Each of us went through periods of feeling like we weren't doing enough and times when we felt overworked and under-appreciated. We had responsibilities and expectations. Eight years into the marriage, we had two children and bought our first house. Three years later, we would have a third child. At this stage, everything seems bigger than the marriage and it can't wait until it can reach the cupboards over the sink and do things on its own. It yearns for independence but clings for support. The marriage grows. It hits puberty.

There is nothing like the raging hormones of a marriage in its teen years. Literally. I started weaning Sierra when we were in our fourteenth year of marriage and had to deal with a clash of delayed postpartum depression coupled with perimenopause symptoms. I don't know how my husband lived with me. Of course, he was dealing with problems at work. A marriage in its teen years might want to run away because it feels like no one understands it. It gets wrapped up in its own problems and needs to be reminded that everything will be alright. Just hang in there and be there for each other. It's funny, during this stage, my husband went for counseling and I joined him at one of the sessions. We realized that our main problem was that each of us tried hard not to upset the other. I was wrapped up in matters of homeschooling and child-rearing, while he was wrapped up in trying to keep his job. We needed to listen to each other. A teenager needs to learn to open up and communicate on a new level. The marriage is learning to sit in the driver's seat and take control of its own life. A life formed by two people whose love unites them. The marriage grows.

Happy Anniversary, my love. As you wish.

7 comments:

Kirsten said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Such a beautiful and true expression of love; congratulations on your grownup marriage, JP.

jugglingpaynes said...

Thanks, Kirsten!

Dale said...

I think your marriage will probably enter a whole new stage now that it can legally drink.

Inner Elder said...

Happy Anniversary Tina and Reed! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and wise tribute to your marriage. I delight in seeing the two of you living your story of love through the years. You are a blessing to me. Love, Mom

Kez said...

Happy Anniversary! Loved the analogy :)

Paula Vince said...

I love these analogies. Hope you had a great Anniversary.
Our marriage is on the heels of yours, having reached it's 20th year. Hopefully many more ahead for us all. We've yet to experience first hand what an elderly marriage will be like.

Stephanie Ward said...

What a lovely article -- there is a lot of wisdom in that analogy. Happy (belated) anniversary!

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