I Do

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I had a conversation about marriage with a young lady the other day. She’s engaged to a great guy. I’ve never met him, but he must be something special if talking about him makes her eyes light up the way they do.

She confided in me that although she’s so in love with this man, she’s also afraid. We live in a divorce culture, she said, and I don’t want that to happen to us. She asked about my marriage. I told her we’ve been married fifteen years. With big eyes, she asked me, “How do you keep it all together?”

As far as divorce culture goes, I couldn’t offer much, but in the way my own marriage works and why it works, I have a lot to say. I told her that different things work for different people, but I explained some of what works for us.

I told her that you can’t go into a marriage with society’s expectations. People love the idea of a traditional marriage where the husband works, the wife has and tends to babies, and there’s a white picket fence. The first thing I told her was that sometimes life won’t allow that to happen. Circumstances change, stuff happens, and things hardly ever go as planned. I had her attention at this point

Secondly, listen to your vows and mean them. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, til death do you part. That means when things get hard, you work through it together. In my case, if your husband gets hurt and can’t work, you step up. You have to be willing to live in a shack if you must and take care of each other. It means that whenever life throws something huge at you, you deal with it as a unit. It means that when you are angry and fighting that it’s you and your husband against the problem and not against each other. It means you still love that person even when you don’t like them. It means that you love them more than you love yourself. She listened and nodded and told me that all that sounded pretty miserable.

I laughed and told her that just because there is bad, doesn’t mean there won’t be good. That’s different for everyone too, but for us, it’s making up wacky song lyrics. It’s dancing in the kitchen while we cook together. It’s being cuddled up on the couch watching a movie. It’s one of us doing something so silly that we both can’t stop laughing. It’s listening to the one you love sing along with the radio in the car and feeling like there’s no way you could ever love them more. It’s waking up after a nightmare and feeling safe and taking comfort in their warmth beside you. It’s being glad they’re with you while you watch a sunset or fireflies or the ocean kissing the rocks. It’s being in the hospital and finding strength in them. It’s holding their hand while your baby is being born. It’s finding out that you’ll probably never have children and finding comfort in one another. It’s little notes to each other. It’s being so thankful when they wash the dishes/do the laundry/scrub the toilet. It’s wanting to do similar things for them that you know you’re going to hate but doing it anyway because you love them and want to see them smile. It’s talking for hours about life and the universe and experiences and things you enjoy. It’s arguing and debating politics/religion/whatever you disagree about and still loving each other afterward. It’s dreaming together about what you both want out of life as individuals as well as together.

I told her it’s realizing that whatever you’re going through is only temporary. The bad is only temporary. It’s understanding that you are married to an imperfect human. A human that is going to make mistakes, make you angry, and make you sad. Because you love them, you forgive them and still cherish them.

I’ve been married to Tony for fifteen years. It’s hard to believe and easy to believe at the same time. We know the ins and the outs of each other. He’s seen me at my worst and my best. He’s seen me fall apart. He’s never threatened to leave or walk away when most would. Because when he said “I do” he meant it.

The most important thing is to mean it.

I told her that there was no way to predict what time would tell. Life changes and evolves. So do people. There’s no guarantee that comes with a marriage license that it’s a sure fire happily ever after. I didn’t want to sugar coat anything for her. I am the type of person that if I know something is doable, that’s all the assurance I need. She seemed like the same. A long happy marriage is doable if both give 100%. I know from the experiences of my friends that isn’t always the case. I hope I gave her a little hope. That’s all anyone can ask for.

 

What I’m Reading

In my recent days as a shut-in, I have to say that my reading life has improved. I’ve been reverting to a time when I could have four reads going at once and not miss a lick. It’s been a bit all over the place. Last year, my book club selection was out of my comfort zone, and it very much paid off. I’m hoping with the new things I’m interested in, I might find myself more than a step out and go all in. Recommendations would be nice.

What I’ve Read Recently:

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter

Honeysuckle Girls

I don’t know a single lady from the South who doesn’t appreciate a book set there. This book was one I found free with my Kindle Unlimited. I’ve had it in my list for months without starting it. Once I did, I knew it was one of those I could read in a day. It’s about a young woman with issues who digs into her family’s troubled past where secrets might destroy her and everything she knows. She realizes that most everything she’s been told is a lie and goes on a quest for the truth that leads her down a dark path fraught with pain. If you’re looking for a happy ending, this one might not be for you.

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Verity

This book in a word is incredible. Twists and turns for days. I read this one in no time at all. The only time I put it down was to catch my breath. It brought out so many emotions in me that I had to pause to vent. It is dark and twisted. It was completely different than anything else I’ve read from this author. It has abundant secrets, and the writer in me loves that. Since reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, I’ve been looking for something along those lines that could shock me. This is the one.

It’s about a writer recruited to finish a series of books for another author, Verity. She’s invited to Verity’s home to work in the office where Verity’s notes and plot lines are handy. What she finds is more than she could have imagined. As she gets to know Verity’s family, she finds herself in a more than difficult situation. A hidden manuscript of Verity’s reveals some shocking secrets. Things are not what they seem in Verity’s home. Verity is not what she seems.

What I’m Reading:

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

This is one of our book club selections and is proving to be a good read. I’m enjoying it but taking my time to read it. It’s dredged up a few memories for me. It’s Tara’s tale of growing up with a family led by a father who believes the world is out to get them, particularly the government. There are moments where your heart aches for her, especially her childhood years. I would recommend this book even though I haven’t finished it.

I have several books that I’m planning to read over the summer. In true book girl fashion, my TBR pile is ridiculous. Just a few on my agenda are:

Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

Shrill by Lindy West

I’m enjoying summer. I’m looking forward to how the world slows down during the summer. Sometimes because school is out, and sometimes because Mississippi heat is just offensive. I’ve been trying to soak up a little sun, baby my tomato plants and my flowers, and let go of the things I can’t change. I think the majority of us take life so seriously that we find it impossible to unwind and let be. This is something I’m learning.