Thursday, December 8, 2011

Marital Bliss?

Because I try to be as candid as possible on this blog, I am writing today about married life post-babes. This is not always wine and roses. Or frequent romps in the hay. Or kind words and sweet kisses. Or romantic dates with hand holding and long conversations. Or homemade meals and folded laundry. Or even wanting to be in the same room together. Some days I am so tired from taking care of two babes all day that when Grant walks in the door from work and asks for a glass of water, he gets a "get it your damn self" from his bride who promised to always cherish and respect him. Fortunately those extreme moments are few but there are more days then I would like where we fall into bed without really even talking about anything other then the kids.

My older brother gave me a book before I ever met Grant called "A Severe Mercy". If you have never read it and are in or ever planning on being in a long-term relationship with another human being- stop reading and go out and buy this book. It was written by a man named Sheldon Vanauken, who was a friend of C.S. Lewis. The book is about Sheldon and his wife Davy and their journey through life, love and eventually death. Throughout the book, Sheldon speaks about something he and Davy called the "creeping separateness" which they considered to be the greatest threat to their marriage. It is the idea that very rarely does one big event cause the end of a relationship. Even things like stepping out come after months maybe years of the individuals becoming more and more comfortable with not sharing everything with their spouse. The slow steady rise of individuality and the decline of the couple.

When I read this book for the first time as a single woman, I did not understand how two people who were wildly in love and enjoying all the benefits of life lived WITH someone could let themselves gradually fall apart. When I met Grant and he pursued me as he did, I knew I had found someone who shared my same desire to be together on everything. And over the past 8 years we have heard from numerous people that our intimate relationship is both enviable and annoying. We literally do not make any significant decisions without the other person. We decided that we would never do things like go out to lunch or spend any significant one on one time with someone of the opposite sex. This has caused tensions in both of our work situations because not everyone shares this commitment of boundaries. But we have seen too many relationships fade away because it is too easy to find comfort elsewhere when life is messy at home. So we accept the criticism and enjoy the trust that exists from knowing exactly who each other is spending time with. My male friends are all friends of Grants as well and vice versa.

Having children was the first time I began to understand how the creeping separateness could creep in. Grant is a very involved father but even he can not understand what my days are like at home. I went from a full time Cardiac nurse working 40+ hours/week in a high stress job to being a stay at home mother of 2 in less then 20 months. Sometimes the most difficult task I accomplish all day is figuring out how to get breastmilk stains off the couch. And even though I may not leave the house all day and still be in my pajamas at noon, the work I do at home is more intense then any shift in the ICU. I am raising children and there are no lunch breaks or vacations from that. I am ON all the time because if I lose my temper or miss opportunities to teach Purslane important life skills, it affects her. And I don't expect myself to be perfect but I am keenly aware that I always have eyes on me.

So when Grant comes home and wants to talk about his dissertation committee, I don't always have the attention span or the energy to listen to him. In the evenings when he wants to play cards or even spend time just listening to records and talking- I want to either watch TV or go to bed. Let's not even talk about the logistics of jumping into bed together. With a 7 week old sleeping at the foot of our bed in his bassinet and Pursy needing at least 5 songs sung to her while being rocked to sleep, the magic hour of having sex often disappears in exhaustion or just not connecting enough to want to be intimate. We decided not to move Knox to his crib until we move because we didn't want him to have to adjust twice in three weeks to a new sleeping situation- which was a kind decision for him- but came with repercussions for us as a couple having any privacy.

It is hard. Hard to find time to be together just as Grant and Christy- married people. Hard to find the energy to find out what the other person has spent their day doing and TRULY care. Hard to connect on things other then being Knox and Pursy's parents. And that is an important part of who we are right now, but that won't keep our marriage together. At our core we are still those crazy in love kids who think the other person is the bees knees, we just don't always have the energy to show it. And it is hard when I realize I haven't kissed Grant all day or I listen to myself snarking at him about leaving his shoes on the floor.

So we just keep talking. And sometimes all I can muster up is to tell Grant that I WANT to have the energy to sit up with him after the babes are asleep, but I just don't have it in me. And the great guy that he is, he kisses me on the forehead and tells me all he needs to know is that I want to.

We will fight the creeping separateness and his will be the hand I am holding when I am 85 and can't remember what my name is or how I got here.

5 comments:

  1. I tell this story to everyone, and I may have told you before, and I'm not even sure it's 100% true (and though I know I could Google it, I like the idea of not):

    The couple that make up Over the Rhine were having marriage troubles. Divorce seemed imminent. So they made a rule: every night, no exceptions, they would put a bottle of wine at the table and sit down and not leave until it was gone. They had to talk--share their dreams and hurts and whatever came up. And if nothing came, they kept drinking, and eventually it came. They stayed together, and are still together.

    The song "Born" is about this process. I read this story and first heard the song when living in DC, and it was one of the few songs that fit on my first mp3 player, so whenever I hear it I think of watching trees go past the window on a bus in Georgetown.

    And I don't know, your story makes me think of that. The separateness, but the ability to trust that with communication and God's help, it can and will come together.

    Being married is hard, but it's really, really, really fun. As you predicted: we laugh a lot. I bet you do too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice one, Sis. Glad you're still gleaning good things from that book.

    Kyle, I've heard that same story about Karen and Linford, and I think about it all the time, as well.

    I'm not married yet for the precise reason that I can easily imagine how damn hard it would be to keep a relationship strong, loving, and fresh for a lifetime, so it's nice to have stories like theirs, Sheldon and Davy's, and yours, Christy, and Grant's as hopeful reminders that it's not impossible.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi lovely ladyfriend! I've been thinking about you so much lately.

    A friend of mine *just* posted this on my Facebook wall. I haven't even had a chance to read it yet, so I don't know if it's exactly applicable to what you've written about, but I thought I'd share it nonetheless.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/12/08/143382739/to-keep-marriage-healthy-when-baby-comes-share-housework

    Maybe I can stop by next week for a visit -- help you in any way that I can. Bring you a donut? Or I can just bring two for me... ;-)

    You're beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  4. So true! But this is a stage that will pass so quickly. But you need to fight for it now. And yes, the Lindford-Karen story is true they talked about it at one of the concerts we went to. Love the idea of drinking and entire bottle of wine together in a seating but has yet to be accomplished. Between pregnancy, breastfeeding and the idea that a child could wake up at any point of the night and need to be cared for it hasn't worked yet. One day...
    Sarah

    ReplyDelete