Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reflections on a different time

After skipping nap while we were on the airplane coming back from Alabama, the girls fell asleep in the car on the way home from the airport when we were only 10 minutes from home. Hoping to guarantee a peaceful evening, I dropped Mr. Quimby off at home to walk the dogs and drove the girls around to keep them asleep. I even managed to go through the drive-thru at McDonald's for a cup of coffee (their new fancy coffees are GOOD) and they still stayed asleep.

I turned onto the campus of the University of Big State School thinking that I would encounter light traffic on this holiday weekend. I meandered around, tracing my typical routes that I walked during grad school: the sorority house where we lived as house parents, the office building where I did my assistantship, the building where I took my classes, the library where I studied on the weekends, the building where Mr. Quimby and I did some couples counseling, and then the route back down to the sorority house. I was flooded with emotion and I took some time to pull over and try to identify it. There was a smell - of the library I think and a feeling of flatness, is the best way to describe it. Not happiness, not despair, not a single strong sentiment, but rather the overlayering and overlapping of several "not quite right" feelings.

As I recall, that's how I spent a lot of grad school feeling. I was dealing with the stress of not being the smartest person in the class, learning a new job, dealing with the unending tension of living in a place where we weren't wanted, and the leftovers from some issues from the past that I had never fully dealt with. Mr. Quimby was a convenient target, and I took out my frustration, anxiety and unhappiness on him. There were happy and joyous times interspersed throughout those two years – but overall it was just hard.

After a few weeks, I knew something was wrong, and I knew what I had to do. I sought out individual counseling for myself and couples counseling for the both of us. Things definitely got better and my life was back in a manageable and happy place, but it wasn’t for four more years until I started with a new, really exceptional counselor that I really felt totally complete and in a good place. And now, in retrospect, I can see that it wasn’t until I had Ramona that I was able to acknowledge my part in my occasional difficulties with Mr. Quimby and the impediments that I put up in my own path to contentment.

While I was driving, I was trying to figure out what the difference is in my relationship with Mr. Quimby then and now. Back then, I don’t think we had the same sort of connection, of partnership, the “one-ness” that we have now. Without a doubt, we loved each other intensely and enjoyed each other’s company immensely. We spent all our free time together; neither of us had any friends that we did things socially with; and it wasn’t unusual for us to hardly leave each other’s sight for the entire weekend.

After 13 years of being married, I think we now have an amazing marriage. We each have the things that we do so right that we bring to our marriage and we each have the things that we do so wrong. Working on those “wrong” things is continuous and I suspect that we’ll still be working on them when we’ve been married for fifty years!

But what exactly is the difference between then and now? I couldn’t narrow it down to one thing; I think it is two primary factors.

First, I have finally figured out that I’d rather be happy than right, especially when the “right” in question isn’t even a big deal to begin with (thanks to my friend H). While Mr. Quimby and I still discuss (he would say ad nauseum) the big arguments, I’m willing to let the minor disagreements dissipate on their own. This is huge for me.

Second, back then, we hadn’t really weathered any tough times yet. People we love had had some bad stuff happen to them that affected us, but it wasn’t either of us bearing the full brunt of it. Making it through a tough time in grad school, the conception and loss of our first pregnancy (naturally conceived twins!), the births and emotional minefields of caring for newborns, another tough time, Mr. Quimby supporting me in breastfeeding our children for 16 months each, and my own realization of self worth as a wife and mother.

It’s these hills and valleys that helped to sustain the stronghold of our relationship. If we had given up (which was never really considered) either literally or figuratively earlier in our relationship, we wouldn’t be where we are today, and oh my . . . how very, very sad that would be.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.


Ryaanne said...

I am filled with joy for you and your realization of how blessed you are to have found someone willing to do the hard work of being married!

V said...

Maybe a little crazier, but certainly stronger.

Stacy said...

I think there are definitely 2 parts of a relationship. The "before" and the "after" - the before is the blissful, easy time when you first fall in love and are busy learning about one another. Life is more carefree and you get to be a little family unit with just the 2 of you...and then there is the after. After bad times, after hard decisions, after life has worn you down and you see one another without the blinders of early love. Being there for one another in the after creates a new depth to love, in my opinion.

Our first bad time was the loss of our first pregnancy. His dedication to me as I dealt with it emotionally (even though I was unable to be as supportive of him because I was stuck in emotional pain) was a sign of the strong husband I would be able to depend on.

Sorry for rambling. *blush*


Laurie said...

There is nothing like the intimacy of having a child. I'm so glad that it brought the two of you closer and to a place of recognition in your relationship.

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