Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Climb the stairs they're not so steep. Bend down the branches.

Isn't there some Eastern saying about strong trees bending but not breaking?

Maybe Buddha or Confucius? One of the big names, anyway.

We saw it this winter, with the endless snows. Some bent low and survived. And others broke under the strain. Some fell over entirely, roots raw and exposed.

There's only so much flexibility until the breaking point.

You'd see these elegant white snowflakes falling, landing like little kisses, gentle and sweet. And yet, you'd get enough in one place, and suddenly, it was too much.

I would wonder which snowflake tipped it, you know?

Most of the time, I can't imagine spending my life with anyone other than Nick. I'm never bored with him. He makes me laugh. He makes me feel safe. I respect his brain. Our world views coincide.

But we're constantly back to the same arguments. They circle and strangle like angry vines. And our branches, they are full before the words even begin.

This past year has been a pile-on year.

Not all negative - some wonderful. But a relentless stream.

Pregnancy. The death of my father. Moving. Moving again. A C-section. Jordan. The new old house that's justjust started being nice. The one that my friends now admit to thinking was "scary" and "creepy" and "worrisome" when we first moved in.

Sunday night, after our second fight of the day, I really began to think that maybe we wouldn't survive this year. Maybe neither of us could bend any further.

Maybe the lack of sleep and the endless work on the house - Every. Single. Weekend - and the lack of time to ever just BE, just the two of us, maybe the cumulative effect was just too debilitating.

Maybe our roots weren't deep enough when we began. Maybe the kid and the new old house would actually break us.

I said as much, calmer, cooler, close to midnight. Will we break?

And Nick said no. Look, love, look around. Look at the beauty we've made. We've finally dug out from under. We're starting to live in the light.


  1. I think those trees that were bending under the weight of the snow were probably worried about breaking too.

    They survived. You will too.

  2. I love this post, and I just adore you.

    Real women (and real marriages) inspire me. They're always the most interesting, the strongest, in the end.

  3. This brought a tear....I'm working through my own relationship. It's true about needing some kind of foundation, but I've found that you can build it as you go. Also, repairs here and there are fine. :)

  4. What a beautiful way of expressing himself Nick has. Difficulties don't have to result in ends (life, relationships, jobs). Sometimes they just are, and you are braver and stronger for working through them.

  5. Oh, thank god. If you two can't make it, I don't know who can.

    You two just need a weekend away. Maybe Betty is up to taking Baby J for a night or two?

  6. Those damn kids (along with the rest of life) will do that to you. The fact that you are asking the question and not just stomping out the door shows that you will make it.

    My hubs and I have to make a concerted effort to spend time together where we're NOT doing something else. Even if it's just sitting next to each other dozing on the couch, it's TIME. Put Mr. J to bed, grab a glass of wine and just hang. It can do wonders.

  7. Sometimes life just gets in the way of working on your relationship. But the fact that you're fighting means that you're still communicating. Just think how awful it would be if you couldn't talk to him anymore. That's the sign of the end. When you don't care enough to fight.

    Hang in there. There are all kinds of seasons in life. This is just one of them. You'll make it through it. And stronger, I would be willing to wager.

  8. KLZ - We did what we could to help them - Nick would shake the trunks to dislodge snow.

    I think so, most of the time. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Jennie - Thank you so much. I also love reading the real, and am always so much more intrigued by those who delve into these issues.

    kayare - I believe that. You build foundation as you go, and repairs can make things stronger than the original. It's such a work in progress, perpetually, isn't it? By it I think I mean life.

    Susan H - This is the first relationship that hasn't ended due to difficulties. It's a hard lesson to learn, and hard to work through things. Comforting, when you do realize you're stronger. But wow!

    Kate - You are so very right. When you don't care enough to fight, you are at the end. I believe we'll come out stronger - we come out incrementally stronger each time. But some days are just overwhelming.

    freckledk - Thanks - that's such a nice thing to say!

    She would, but no time soon. Nick has a lot of upcoming travel. Bleah.

    cla517 - Yah! Kids and life! I wanted to stomp out the door. I seriously considered it.

    You are right. We need to make sure to do that. I miss the just being.

  9. To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you're wrong, admit it; Whenever you're right, shut up.
    Ogden Nash
    I am in the 17th year of my second marriage. I have wanted to call it quits twenty times each year. My husband will not hear of it. That's good. I'm too tired to go through another divorce. But it is hard. I know the answer for us was that he just won't entertain the idea. And later when the dust has cleared? I'm always happy. Hang in there as best you can Lisa. It's May after all....a tough week ahead. Summer awaits. Just keep bending till you can stand up straight again.
    From one who lives where it snows... a lot.

  10. What a perfect thing for Nick to say. I have also heard that the first year with a little one is the hardest for a lot of couples. And the two of you really have managed to do SO well, in the face of everything the year has brought you.

    So long as you both bend towards the light, I think you'll bend just fine.

  11. Bless you, Nick.

  12. It's so nice to see that other people fight and argue and worry their relationships, too. Thanks for writing this. I've always believed that marriage is work, not the "happily ever after" that a lot of people assume it'll be once the I do's are exchanged. I'm just glad to hear I'm not the only one working so hard!

  13. What Wendy said. Truly lovely. And you know how resilient I believe people to be. You, too.

  14. I *love* your honesty. It makes me feel so normal to realize that others go through similar things.

    A few years ago I heard a statement I love, from a couple married 60 years. When asked what their secret was, they said, "We never fell out of love at the same time." I feel comforted knowing that I don't always have to LOVE my husband, and I can see the cycles where sometimes I'm more in love and sometimes he is. That's okay! We're in this together, and sometimes one person has to pull the other along :)

  15. My heart goes out to you and Nick. Marriage is a beautiful thing and it is hard to know when to bend and when to break and re-plant.

  16. Monique Esselmont5/12/2010 8:01 PM

    I love what Tia said. I totally agree with her. I'm on my second marriage, and I don't ever want to let this one go. We may not see eye to eye all the time, but I know I have someone I want to keep,,, Marriage is hard, but it's always a work in progress. Having children doesn't make your relationship easier, it's so much harder, but you keep moving through life, and enjoy the ride!! Check out my post on facebook about a "The Gift Of An Ordinary Day"... It brings on a new life to family...

  17. Hi Lisa,

    I've been reading your blog for a while now and never got around to commenting, but this really inspired me to...This is just beautiful and true, and right. Thanks for that, I will certainly remember it in my own marriage. I have to agree with the "hanging out time" as well. It does wonders to bring you back together and back to yourselves.

    Best, Shannon

  18. Lynn - This is beautiful and I so appreciate it. And I haven't thought of Ogden Nash in ages - but so appropriate! This month, and this week in particular, I'm having a tough time. Thanks for remembering.

    Dagny - I love the image of bending towards the light. We need to turn the way plants do to maximize the sunshine!

    Maudie - He's a good one.

    jen - (With one N, not two :)) Thank you!

    Luna - When I was younger, I always thought that once I got married, my life would magically be solved. But it's work! I don't know anyone in a strong relationship who doesn't work at it.

    Wendy - Thank you. I appreciate it.

    Lisa - I agree. People are resilient. We can live through some truly horrendous times and come out OK.

    Tia - Thank you. I always like knowing that as well.

    You are so exactly right. Sometimes one of you has to pull the other. It makes so much sense. I just hadn't thought about it.

    HKW - Thank you, Heather. You are right. One of the things I so appreciate about being married is that most of the time, I know we're always going to be in it together, and our fights are just that - fights. They're not break-up fights, not an end. Most of the time.

    Monique - Tia often has wise words. It's true - having kids, or one anyway, has made it so much harder. Richer, but harder. I will definitely check out your post!

  19. Great are so candid. a single Mom, my advice to everyone is, hang in there. It will only get better :)

  20. When our babe was born last year.. the stress of just her was hard on us too. The best thing we have ever done is found time for us whenever we can squeeze it in.

    The house repairs will be there and may seem neverending. Taking a step back and concentrate on what is important to you and what you love is tough on women but is so crucial sometimes just to get through the day.

    I hope it gets better!

  21. You'll be fine. Just fine.

    (Because you HAVE to be... for all of us. ;-)

  22. This post was just beautiful and so honest and true. I love it. I think the fact that you can discuss it so thoughtfully means there is so much hope for you to make it all work.

  23. This post is so typical of you. Perceptive, open and honest, beautifully written.

    I think there are two types of issues. The serious issues; the serious, and the "small potatoes in the stew of life."

    For the small potatoes, when it gets repetitive, and is apparent that more than likely, you'll ALWAYs disagree on it, but it's starting to drive you up the wall, it's ready for the "Agree To Disagree" list, where resolutions can be decided in various ways. Like by bargaining, "I'll give in on A, if you'll give in on D." Or a less emotional, more clear cut, perhaps less time consuming way: in alternate turns; you got your way last time, it's his turn this time.

    Once decided, let it go. Once and for all. I ask myself, "Do I want to be RIGHT or do I want to ENJOY THIS DAY?"

    Even if it eliminates only half the stuff in the crap pile, that's progress, ain't it?

  24. RayGunGirl/Shannon - Thank you so much for your kind comment. We work, and do our best. I believe that.

    Ritu - I respect you so much for doing such a great job as a single mom. Being a not-single mom is so much work! And I appreciate your perspective.

    Jennifer - I will try to take a step back and concentrate on the essential. It is so easy to get caught up in the overwhelming day-to-day and all the prosaic details.

    LiLu - We will be, we will. I think you're right. There's just a lot to weed through.

    Kaysha - Thank you for that. I know we talk a lot about these things and our marriages are so important to both of us. I hope so!

    Tammater - What a nice thing to tell me! Thank you!

    Yes, some are small potatoes and some are serious things that aren't about being right but about fundamental ways of approaching life. Learning to live with those or changing for your partner/the greater good - not so easy. For the best, but not easy.


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