I can only speak for my own experience as a wife, but sometimes being married is like being on a rollercoaster. That steady climb of anticipation. The crazy ups and downs. The unforeseen drops. The moment when everything stops and then you go backward. The loop that throws you.
Maybe for some, it's more of a steady stream, a few small dips in the river perhaps, but mostly, just floating along peacefully. That sounds nice.
For the Jeffster and myself, we've had the rollercoaster one. You know that feeling at the start of a rollercoaster? Excitement? Thrill? Fear? Those are the emotions back at the beginning of your relationship. When everything is new and amazing and your senses are heightened. It's wonderful really. You feel so alive. (And it's worth savoring because while the ride may always be good, it will never be quite like that again. And it's okay. It's called falling in love. Then comes staying in love.) Then you take the plunge and you're thrown right and left and up and down, and you're just trying to hold on. That can be a lot like marriage too.
The other night, Jeff and I and the kids were in the kitchen. There was all the usual chaos going on. Lily's in the bouncer up on the island, the kids are talking nonstop. I'm thinking that I'm running low on sodas. (The truth is that my addiction to diet soda is very real, loveys. You know this. It's been going on since college and it's still happening for this chick.) Anyway, I had just been to the grocery store the day before and bought a ton of stuff. And I want to scream because this was like the third time I'd been to the store and AGAIN I forgot trash bags. For the record, yes, I usually make a list but I don't always look at it and I've been known to often forget said list at home. So amid the chaos, I say to Jeff, "I need you to go to the store and get trash bags. I forgot again!"
"Anything else?" Jeff asks. I bite my lip. I'm still super annoyed I forgot trash bags, but now I'm thinking that if he's going to the store he might as well get me diet soda because I'll go through the ones I have the way my sister goes through Stride gum.
"Well," I begin. He looks over at me.
"Don't kill me, but could you get me more diet Dr. Peppers too?"
Jeff just stops and smiles at me. It was kind of an emotion-filled smile, which stopped me for a moment because I wasn't expecting it. And then he says to me: "Bran, that's one of those things I'd miss the most about you. Yes, I'll get you more sodas."
And then it was over and he was doing something else, and I'm still thinking about it days later. All right, I'm almost crying over it.
Because he means it. And I mean it. And being married isn't always easy. We've had those rollercoaster moments when everything stopped and we were jerked backward. We've had those flip-you-upside-down moments that I really hate and that come when you least expect them.
We've also had those exhilarating moments when you both feel like throwing your hands in the air and you can't stop smiling because this ride is all you wanted and more.
There are experiences you go through during marriage that change you. In some form or another, I think this happens to everyone. Jeff losing his dad was one of those for us. For him. Something that you never quite get over, but you learn to live through. This can look like a lot of different things for people. The struggle is the same though. Grappling with pain or loss (even a loss of expectations or loss of trust could count here) changes the dynamic of who you are and who you are as a couple. Again, marriage isn't always easy. Sometimes it doesn't last. That's just reality and you thank God that he's with you even if you find yourself in Plan B.
Do you know what kind of marriage you want? For my own experience, my marriage is such a huge part of my life that when something's not working, everything just falls apart.
I know what kind of marriage I want. Love. Respect. Passion. Romance. Tolerance. Conversation. I want those things and I need them in order to be happy. I can live without them, I suppose, but not very happily. Truthfully, we all know what it feels like not to have them. Because no matter what, every marriage has its days.
I thought about what Jeff said to me in the kitchen, and the next night, I told him how much I appreciated it. Then I told him something I would really miss about him. And I could see that my words affected him, just as his words had affected me.
This is for you. This is for me.
We sat next to each other in church today (for a little while, before Ashtyn squeezed between us). Jeff reached over to hold my hand. We could just sit there next to each other. Still loving each other. Still being married.
Or we could hold hands.
I pick holding hands.
Jeff could have just said yes, that he would get me sodas at the store. Or he could go the extra mile and make me feel loved.
It makes all the difference.
I could brush off what he said. Or I can let it fill me up and give back the same gift.
Go the extra mile, lovey. It makes the ride better.
There are very hard moments in marriage. I know this to be true.
Then there are moments when the boy says something to me while we're standing in the kitchen, and I feel like crying because I'm lucky. Because he loves me and I love him.