"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

45 Years

"Marriage is not a noun; it's a verb. It isn't something you get. It's something you do. It's the way you love your partner every day." ~ Barbara de Angelis

There were a lot of photos taken at my parents' wedding 45 years ago, but the only photos I've seen of that day were contact prints.

That's because there was a fire in the home of their photographer and all the photos and negatives were lost. All except for the contact prints.

So there's really very little photographic evidence of the wedding. The good news is that there is a mountain of evidence of the marriage that followed.

If it is true that your idea of what marriage looks like is directly related to your parents' marriage then allow me to share with you what I feel a good marriage looks like based solely on the front-row seat I've had to my parents' marriage.

Marriage is good conversation interspersed with comforting silence, the kind shared by the kindred.

Marriage when it's good comprises two people, different and complex, who choose the other, constantly, with conviction. Especially during the times when choosing is tough and loving is difficult.

Marriage when it's good is a room with two people in it, who are assured that no matter how loud the shouting or how each of them drive the other nuts or how painful their respective truths may be, no one is going to leave the room.

A good marriage is about taking turns. One of the most bittersweet memories I have is of my Pa in the hospital holding my Ma's dextrose and guiding her to the toilet so she can pee soonafter her eye operation. That took place almost a year since she performed the same service in a different hospital when Pa had his second stroke. A good marriage takes turns.

A good marriage is characterized by service, sometimes seemingly thankless service of each other. I have had both my parents take turns lamenting to me what they do for each other and how much they feel unappreciated by the other. I reckon they just needed to let off steam because they never ceased doing things for each other. To this day.

Marriage is space between two people. Enough space to grow as individuals, but close enough not to lose sight of each other as they evolve as human beings.

A marriage worth saving is defined by a thousand little kind gestures and thoughtful habits. Papa taking on wet market shopping duty on Sundays, Mama preparing his coffee just the way he likes it.

A good marriage shares a laugh, chides a little, chuckles a lot. A fine marriage is affectionate. Sometimes by sleeping spoon. Sometimes just a look across the dining table. Or a hand grazing the other's.

A good marriage is not blind to the faults of the other. You see it, you recognize it, but you know that there is more to the other than this, and all those other things about your beloved tips the balance every time. And when you can't see it, you choose to recognize it still. Love in a good marriage is not blind, but maybe it decides to wear the blinders every once in a while, just to keep in focus the things that matter most.

A good marriage is one that forgives the petty indignations that are sure to come its way.

Marriage is knowing what the other is thinking and vice versa, unspoken interactions shared only by those who are no strangers to the holy entanglement.

Marriage is a deep trusting. It is a profound friendship. Where words are neither required nor necessary.

Marriage is weathering the seasons. Births, deaths and everything in between. It is looking at the person you married at that wedding 45 years ago the photos of which are gone forever, and thinking that it's been a great, blessed, grace-filled ride. And that there is no one in the world you would choose to accompany you in the journey.

Happy 45th wedding anniversary Ma and Pa. I love you so very, very much.

(Photo credit: zgodzinski)


Babs said...

thank you for this beautiful post.
and happy anniversary to them!

bluggerbug said...

This is so lovely, Mai. Happy anniversary to the parentals!

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