Suburban Snapshots

The Love That Keeps You Married

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

I love my husband this week. This week, I look across the room at him and think, "How long can I safely assume Anna would stay glued to that iPad right now?" This week I want to tell his bosses what a dedicated employee he is and tell Anna to stop saying that she loves me better because I let her have hot cocoa after school. I want to make his favorite dinner even though it's so packed with fat that I can't go near it. I'll tell him I'm proud of his work, that he's a great dad and husband, that sometimes when I joke about my friends wanting to get in his pants I'm kind of serious and maybe a little concerned. This week he's getting more random hugs, less sarcasm, and lots of appreciation.


1997. Strictly roommates.

Last week I wanted to beat him with the pillow he hugs to sleep and which inevitably ends up making its way onto my face when he lets go of it in the middle of the night. He couldn't say a thing that didn't annoy me, he was full of sarcasm and tone, he'd been sick and stressed and brought all of it into the house after work. All I could see were the piles of crap he makes on every surface in the house and the pile of dishes he ignored before work. His coughing annoyed me, the tissues everywhere annoyed me, the way he spoke to Anna led me a few times to break the cardinal parenting rule of not contradicting your partner in earshot of your children.

Steve is much more steady in things like this than I am. He doesn't get annoyed like I do. I don't consider myself moody, but I might walk around tense and aggravated and bottled up, I keep it in especially when I know I'm being unfair. Usually my first indication that he's stressed or tired is that he stops trying to grope me every six seconds. And even when I'm such an irrepressible rag that I don't want to hang out with myself, he wants me around. Two weeks ago when I couldn't stand the sight of his wet boots tipped over at the back door, I thought about taking off to my mom's for the day, just for some space, just to miss him again.

And I would miss him, I'd call an hour later and apologize for being so crabby, because as much as I know I'm right about his tone and how heinous it is of him to pile crumpled receipts on his dresser, I also know precisely when I'm overreacting or letting some deep-seated resentment create an uncalled for defensiveness in my reactions. Usually this happens when we talk about money -- like when Steve so much as innocently asks, "Do you know how much you spent on stuff this week?" and I freak out about feeling lorded over despite the fact that to date we have not had to relocate to my station wagon.

The thing is, none of this is even a blip in our state of the union. I know these episodes will cycle over and over, that there will always be times I can't get close enough to him and times when an entire state doesn't seem big enough for us both. Yet I feel like these are exactly the things the uninitiated will point to as a rut or an incompatibility, those people who believe that love is a balm for everything, and that "real love" doesn't struggle. Heading into our 10th anniversary and our 15th year together, I'm less naive. Real love's got this on lock. Real love keeps this in perspective and doesn't anticipate bliss in every moment.

A friend's grandfather told her, "The love that gets you married isn't the same love that keeps you married." But no one's going to dance to that at their wedding reception.

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