Growing Old. Together?

You think we're fighting, and I think we're finally talking.

Cuba Gooding Jr. as Rod Tidwell in Jerry McGuire.

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I ran into a childhood friend's mom, and she remarked that she could not believe a couple we all knew that had only been married for a short time was now divorced.

I told her that I was surprised too, but that I'd come to the conclusion that it was just another phase of life for our generation.

First - we all got married. Well, I got married a little sooner than most, but my peer group wasn't far behind.

Second - we all had children. Again, Netter and I were a little ahead of the curve here. Our oldest is 17.

Finally - some of us were getting divorced.

Sometimes relationships just don't work. People change. Expectations change. Priorities change. Goals change. Growing older is a never-ending process with innumerable possibilities.

In the end the variables sometimes take over, and couples come to a crossroads of sorts.

"Whew," I thought as we finished the conversation, "thank goodness that isn't happening to me."

Now the first of December was covered with snow...
Sweet Baby James by James Taylor

Okay, maybe not literally covered with snow, I honestly don't remember. Still the climate at my house in December was, well let's just say; different.

Did you notice how in the first and second points above I talked about where Netter and I were on the curve, but in the third point I didn't?

This is the third point.

As I said above, Netter and I were the first in our peer group to get married. In fact, I think only Netter's sister got married before she did. We were the first to have children. We were the first to have teenagers, etc... and so on.

So naturally, we would be among the first to come to the crossroads. Right?

No. It took a little longer. Honestly though, I'm glad we got there.

Ours has always been a relationship that everybody admired. That special couple who were just right for each other. I've always been proud of that, but I've also always wondered aloud why our relationship was different.

I married my best friend. Doesn't everybody do that?

Frankly I never understood those couples who pined for time away from their spouses, boy's night out, girl's night out, strippers, Chippendales and the like.

Why not couples night out? What's wrong with that?

Well, there are reasons to get away, and then there are REASONS to get away...

I'm still not sure I can speculate, but I do know I now understand at least some of that point of view.

People, even married people, are different. They have reasons to want to be independent, to do things alone, to try things maybe their spouse doesn't want to try. Every moment of every marriage doesn't have to be a fairy tale.

(Insert your own corny fairy tale cliche here.)

Every marriage does however, need to be a relationship and there has to be communication, even when that communication is uncomfortable.

So at my house, in December from a number of impromptu prompts, we spent the larger part of the month keeping in mind that we were trying to solve a problem, and not trying to win a fight.

If you're trying to win a fight you will, or may find yourself, divorced.

As a sidenote - that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes, people aren't meant to be together forever. Sometimes there are even mitigating circumstances. I know my Catholic upbringing doesn't agree with that, but it's a fact of life. Sometimes to be happy, we can't be together forever. That's okay.

Still, I'm grateful that because Netter and I took the time to tune into and listen to, to focus on each other, our marriage is now stronger than ever, and we have a much better idea of how to get to happily ever after.

I hope you all find happily ever after too.


WineLover said...

I'm grateful everyday that the tough times in my marriage have brought me and Justin closer. I'm also grateful for all the wonderful examples of successful marriages I am able to learn from!

Cat said...

It can be really scary to talk through the hard parts, but it is so very important. You both have to want to get to the other side together, otherwise the raft will fall apart. We've seen our "couple friends" break up, too, and for a while it was lonely, but it's great to be making new couple friends now!

Cat said...

OH yea, and my DH is an only child, and kind of an introvert (although he really does love to talk!), so he "re-charges" himself by being alone and doing stuff for himself. I get in the way (and I get really bored), and also I "re-charge" by being among people and chattering away. We've established some patterns that allow each of us our times to do those things, and it's been a real blessing to each of us.