Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More sweet than bitter, bitter than sweet

I remember when I was pregnant with Jordan and all these weird things were happening like random pains or terrible gas or exhaustion or whatever.

I would freak out and ask a mom friend, who then would nod and say, "Oh, yeah. It's awful, isn't it?"

ALL of my friends who had ever been pregnant knew! And didn't tell me before I got myself into that predicament!

And I was all, "What the fuck? How come NONE OF THE PREGNANT PEOPLE I HAVE EVER KNOWN told me about any of these things? It's not Fight Club. "

My second pregnancy was much easier because I knew all of the weird shit that was going to go down. I also knew if there was new weird shit, it was still just pregnancy and not like, rabies.

So I was lying in bed awake last night thinking about marriage, and how it's like that river that you step in and it's always different because you're evolving and the river is constantly moving.

And then I was all, who said that? Which, unless you're actually going to get up and Google it, is totally unhelpful. Because you're going to lay in bed awake and obsessing.

I remembered it from a philosophy class in Rome, and the teacher was this stout, stern Italian woman, very firm in her assertions and her hairdo...I could totally picture her, with her wool skirts and silk blouses, but who the hell was he? Roman? Greek, I'm pretty sure. Yes. Greek.

Which then led me to these adages that I always fuck up, like "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drown." Which is actually drink. You can't make him drink. Because you could probably drown a horse if you were strong enough.

With this I circled back to marriage; in fact, you cannot make anyone do anything. You can harangue and harass and nag and yell. You can do all of those things repeatedly.

These behaviors might make your partner reach for a stiff drink, but they're damned sure not going to get you what you want.

I mean, you hear all about how marriage is work, and marriage is hard. I've even said these things in toasts at weddings, all, marriage is hard and I know you've chosen the right person and you will work together to have a great marriage and blah blah blah.

But nobody tells you about the fights you are going to have. Like about where to put the washing machine. Or about your in-laws. Or that there's compromise all the time. You'll probably compromise on where to put the washing machine. There seems to be no compromising on in-laws.

People tell you to pick your battles, and sometimes you manage to and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you really really try to bite your tongue and still you cannot and then it is all hurtful and ugly.

Sometimes you think you are right and you apologize anyway because it is easier but you walk around with a giant chip on your shoulder that you cannot seem to shake.

Nobody tells you this kind of thing.

Even when you're married, nobody tells you this kind of thing happens to them. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

So last month Nick and were talking about how much compromise marriage requires. Neither of us expected quite so much compromise.

And during our little conversation I said, in an opposite of Love Story kind of way, "Marriage means never getting to do what you really want to do."

Nick replied, "Well, you can choose to look at it in that negative way."

Dear reader, I chose to. For a while.

It was extremely helpful, in case you're wondering.

But you know, sometimes, particularly with kids, or with crises, or just Big Life Things - and we have had plenty of all in our time together - you can get so intent on dealing with what's going on around you and trying to keep it all together and moving forward that you stop focusing on who you are, and importantly, on who you are together. 

The fact is that now, coming up on six years of marriage, we are not exactly the same people as when we first dipped our toes in, and this river has changed a great deal. For a while we were just so busy we didn't notice it happening, until seemingly suddenly we were knee deep in discontent.

Are you wondering by now what my point is? I don't blame you.

I guess what I'm saying is, basically, Vanilla Ice is right. Sometimes we just need to stop, collaborate and listen.

Or in the immortal words of Ferris Bueller: Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Also, you can lead a horse to water, but don't put him in front of the cart. Wait. Do put him in front of the cart. But remember, you can't make a pig's purse out of a rat's ass.


  1. Nobody tells you because they can't quite put it in to the exact right words like you just did. I teared up at this post because I can so identify with you in so many instances. One of my favorite favorite things in our friendship with each other Lisa is how much we are alike even with such vast differences in age, location, upbringing, etc. I wish I could reciprocate the validation you always give to my thoughts. Hope we get to meet IRL soon.

    1. Love you, Lynn! I too hope we get to meet soon. Big hugs!

  2. Thank YOU for taking the time to put it into words:)

    1. Thank you, G! Apparently this resonated with a number of people, as I've gotten a variety of emails from friends and comments on FB.

  3. I agree. No one tells you. About pregnancy, marriage, gypsies in Paris, grief.

    And sometimes, you don't tell yourself things. For me, it's that I loved being married and being on my own is so much harder. It's not that I'm not happy or haven't moved on...I don't tell myself this because I knew I loved being married when I was married and there's nothing I can do to change the harder circumstance.


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