When I first met my husband, it all seemed so easy. That old saw about relationships being hard work? It made no sense to me. Our relationship was pure play, effortless as breathing. The furthest thing from work.
More than a decade out, wedding bands on our fingers, two children, the numerous small disappointments and difficulties of life. . . yeah, I get it now. Relationships are work.
Fortunately, my husband is wiser, more perceptive, and stronger than me on this front as on others. Just before Valentine’s Day last week we had a fight—a ridiculous, angry, go-to-bed-with-tears-in-my-eyes fight over something completely absurd. It was the kind of fight we very rarely have, because we are both naturally easy-going and terribly averse to conflict of any kind. Afterward, my husband talked to me. He talked about where we are in our relationship, and how we should pay attention to it, spend time on it. Cultivate it. Work it.
It’s been easy for me to drop my marriage to the bottom of the to-do list. To take it, and my husband, for granted. After 10+ years, it’s still easier for me to withdraw in fear and shyness from my mate, rather than share with him thoughts and parts of my self that I think he might possibly laugh at. After more than a decade, we are still far from knowing each other. If someone had explained all this to me on my wedding day, I would have laughed. I thought I knew everything.
Today there are three beautiful bouquets on the kitchen table: a vase of roses, a vase of tulips, and a vase of aster lilies. My husband ordered them last week before our fight. They were supposed to come on three consecutive days, culminating in the grand finale of red roses. By accident, the floral company shipped them all out on the same day, so I opened the garage door to what seemed a lush forest of blooms.
The roses were slightly open when I got them, and have been steadily expanding since. The red and pink tulips (my favorite) are now at their lush peak. The aster lilies are still folded in slim buds; only two have begun to open, shyly revealing themselves.
My daughter is quite interested in what it will look like when all the flowers are in bloom. I am as well.
And after I finish this post, I am going to e-mail my husband a short love note… just as we once used to do, a long time ago.