Thursday, July 26, 2012


I always wanted a forever marriage.  The kind where the two old folks sit together on the ancient green couch, holding gnarled hands, wearing musty clothes, while a silent knowing dances between them both.

I always wanted that.

And I always wanted there to be children.  And grandchildren.  And front porches.  And dogs.

Because what is more winsome than all of that?

And so that day when I said that expansive "Yes!" and you kissed my forehead and we ran around the outside of the church all giddy with love and joy...well

I just had no idea. No. idea.

How could I have known that you were never going to fold your clothes up neatly as you stepped out of each piece or that having children was something that you weren't sure if you really wanted or that you wouldn't dry off before you stepped out of the shower or that you would end up going to law school...?

Because when two people are standing up in front of God and everybody, pledging their love to each other and promising to cling to each other from that day forward.  For better or for worse.  In sickness and in health.  Through wealth and poverty.  Well, they really have no idea what they are saying.

And I can still remember the day, how there came this catch in my chest, this seizing of my lovestruck soul, and I realized that I had promised to do this marriage thing with you forever.  Until I died.  Until I was no more.

In the name of all that is holy, what had I done?

Because everything became really, really hard.  It became more difficult to see past your idiosyncratic ticks. Your splendid hard-headedness, when directed towards me, wasn't exactly attractive anymore.   The fact that you couldn't just read my heart and mind and act accordingly became very frightening.  How exactly was I supposed to work through all of these discrepancies that threatened to unravel my perfectly woven tapestry of love and then, on the other side of it all, still be in love with you?  And how, pray tell, did joy fit into all of this?

And suddenly, forever seemed like a really long time.  A. really. long. time.

Today marks fifteen years into our forever. 

I look out the window and pray for rain, clouds, anything that will quell this relentless heat.  It has been day, after bloody day, of this.  But it is still the middle of summer and to think that this crazy weather is going to go away any time soon is lunacy because it just doesn't work that way.  These seasons, they ebb and flow, cycle and churn.  When we stand back and take in their patterns, their rhythm, we can't help but be thankful for the constancy of their change.

I'm coming to understand that it is the same with our marriage, my dear.

This union of ours, into which we have grafted our hearts and souls, has its own seasons.  It cycles and churns and ebbs and flows.  And to stand on one end of it and attempt to see how it all will pan out or how it should proceed is foolish and overwhelming.

Rather, our ability to continue to move forward has been all about the leaning into it.  The slow, gradual relinquishing of unrealistic expectations of greatness.  The thankful acceptance of what actually is.

We are not the same people we were fifteen years ago.  Just like it was not this hot fifteen summers ago.

The world keeps spinning and cycling and we've held on despite it all and even though it is not the same as when we started, it is still very right.  What we have, it is good.

I look out the window now and it has started to rain.  The sky is heavy and the clouds leak wet all over and somewhere in the distance there is the low roll of thunder.   This moment, this is the one that everyone has been praying for.  So much hope and expectation has been poured into the possibility of it that we have begun to shape our plans around its inevitability.  But it is very possible that this rain, this relief that we need, this liquid hope will shift and go elsewhere.  As much as we want it, it might still evade us.

But that is not all that there is.  Our joy and peace doesn't ride on whether it rains or not.
Where our hope rides is in the pregnant moment of now.  This very moment, when we stand on the front porch and can smell hope all the way inside of us..this is what it is all about.

And it is good.


  1. Oh Holly do you know how lucky you and John are? You've made it to 15 years. Tim and I didn't make it that long. I wish I'd found that same kind of thing back then. Ron and I have something very special. And I would marry him in a moment. But at the same time there are so many other things to consider. But I'm so happy for you and John. May you have many more years together. Love you all. Lori

  2. I feel the tension and tenacity and commitment and I know this very wel ... We are 12 years in and you are right: we have no clue what we say yes to. I am learning marriage is something so very very different from what I had expected. Laying down those expectations was hard, but we came through. We are working at it and I am learning what that even means. I love your post and your honesty ... Much Love xo

  3. Saw the picture/link to this on tonight's post and I'm so glad I followed it over to this one, written before I knew you. Yes - this is exactly it. Marriage is not what we dream it will be - it is something else entirely. It is good and rich and frustrating and hellacious and life-forming. Hang in there, Holly - you're about 1/5 of the way there. :>)

  4. And having folks like you in my life, who have done this marriage thing for longer than me, it is such a gift. And yes, this: "it is good and rich and frustrating and hellacious and life-forming"--Yes.