It’s not easy to talk about a marriage. Even if there weren’t so many slippery boundaries where yours becomes his and the territory of ours wasn’t so dependant on whose lens is doing the viewing, marriage is a living thing: changing day by day, adapting and straining and growing.

So all of this is tricky, but I want to tell you: if marriage is something like a plant, meant to creep steadily towards sunlight and withering in times of drought, mine is blooming. Against all odds, really. Exploding with quiet vitality and strength and surprise beauty. A semi-forgotten Christmas cactus awoken from dormancy, unfurling dusty leaves to reveal fire-tinged petals: You thought I was just a houseplant? Surprise, motherfucker.

This May John and I will have been married eighteen years, which is long enough to have gone through some shit. I mean, we have been chin-deep and sinking on more than one occasion, I’m trying to stay wary of what’s okay and what’s not okay to reveal but I will just say this, we have both been in the position of talking to a lawyer. That’s how close we were to sinking below the surface.

We were in a particularly tough season a relatively short time ago, when our political differences became a frigid Everest-sized space between us. That’s when you know you’re really in trouble, when the anger dies away and all that’s left is exhaustion.

I don’t know how we kept going, really, except that a family can be like life support: the machinations of a daily routine keeps a thin breath of air going in and out until the heart can maybe, just maybe, beat on its own again.

This marriage is made of so many things, memories and shared experiences and bone-deep hurts and full-bodied laughter, my greatest challenge and my greatest joy. What a gift to turn the corner and be delighted by how rich and deep and comforting and exciting a partnership can be after so many years, what an insanely lucky person I am to have found someone so confounding and bullheaded and true-hearted and deserving.


21 Responses to “Richer or poorer”

  1. Donna on February 14th, 2019 9:30 am

    That’s just it isn’t it? You just stay together until you fall back in love again…..and when you look back it’s terrifying that you got so close to not staying. And then you’re so so grateful you did.

  2. Leslie on February 14th, 2019 9:46 am

    So, so descriptive of marriage (and I love Donna’s comment that you stay together until you fall in love again). And kudos for weathering the political differences – I struggle with friends much less a spouse. Would love to know more about how you navigate that. Happy for you!

  3. Amber on February 14th, 2019 10:05 am

    I love this and am so happy for you guys. Your words made me think of this wonderful Catherynne Valente quote: “Marriage is a wrestling match where you hold on tight while your mate changes into a hundred different things. The trick is that you’re changing into a hundred other things, but you can’t let go. You can only try to match up and never turn into a wolf while he’s a rabbit, or a mouse while he’s still busy being an owl, a brawny black bull while he’s a little blue crab scuttling for shelter. It’s harder than it sounds.”

  4. Sunny on February 14th, 2019 10:58 am

    Beautifully stated. Congratulations on clawing through the dark times and seizing the good stuff.

  5. Chris on February 14th, 2019 10:59 am

    Beautifully written, as always. My husband and I are coming up on 10 years in June and we have been through some shit lately. Sometimes we have just existed together, and sometimes we’ve been able to hold each other up. It’s a journey and a choice, every day.

  6. Karen on February 14th, 2019 11:10 am

    Oh Linda I am SO happy to see this…marriage is (along with kids) pretty much the hardest thing you’ll ever do in life. You have such a way with words and you nailed it on the head…stay the course and keep working at it, for someone on the other side that made the opposite decision it has it’s challenges as well. Doing them together, if you can, is always SO much better – for all involved! Sending love to you & the family!

  7. Jessie on February 14th, 2019 11:12 am

    Awesome post. I don’t know if I am coming or going in this marriage of mine but here I am right now. Staying and trying.

  8. Kate on February 14th, 2019 11:15 am

    Beautiful, Linda. ❤️

  9. Amanda on February 14th, 2019 12:23 pm

    Powerful words, as always. It is such a ride, marriage. Glad you have held on to enjoy this thriving season.

  10. Holly on February 14th, 2019 2:21 pm

    This is wonderful. I love every word. I want to print it out and laminate it and put it on my kitchen wall.

  11. S.K on February 14th, 2019 3:44 pm

    I’m happy for you. Sincerely. I also desperately needed to read this today. Thank you for bravely sharing.

  12. MARTHA PEPEK on February 14th, 2019 4:24 pm

    You speak to me on so many levels. My marriage is in that dark place, but seeming to move toward the light. Really grateful to read about someone who has been in a similar situation ..

  13. Mackenna on February 14th, 2019 5:06 pm

    If Trump ever comes between you two, I will personally launch a protest about that. He is so not worth it…that Orange turd. Am I revealing my bias? :)

  14. Hillary on February 15th, 2019 7:47 am

    I wish more people spoke about the fact that sometimes marriage is hard, really hard, but that you can actually get through it and come out happy on the other side.

    Very glad that you got there :)

  15. Mary Clare on February 15th, 2019 8:18 am

    So glad you wrote this! I, too, struggle with how to talk about marriage. On one hand, I hesitate to say how hard things can get for the sake of privacy and protecting my relationship. On the other, support from friends with shared experiences is so necessary. Glad you guys are at a good place!

  16. Jessica on February 15th, 2019 11:19 am

    I often feel indifferent toward my husband. He isn’t bad or great, we just seem to exist as a family. I don’t necessarily want a divorce, but I wonder if I’m missing something sometimes, that I should feel something. There is solace in knowing that it isn’t supposed to be easy and maybe after 11 years, it’s just a bad patch and I need to power through it until I do fall in love again.

  17. Lori on February 16th, 2019 8:13 am

    Just past 25 years here and you hit it right on the head. Everything you said rings true. This is exactly what we all need to write in our wedding cards to young people. It is good and bad, hard and easy, you just have to keep working at it. Thank you, thank you, for writing it so eloquently.

  18. Dawn on February 16th, 2019 5:32 pm

    It’s interesting that way with really long relationships. You can have bad YEARS and still find your way back. Takes a lot of work. Grateful you are in a wonderful season!

  19. JJ on February 27th, 2019 2:07 pm

    I feel the same way as a commenter above who said she didn’t know if she was coming or going, but she was trying… marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, hands down. We’ve been together 14 years and married nearly 11, and in the past week we have gone from screaming at each other and me kicking him out of the bedroom to having a day-date lunch together today and saying I love you and having a wonderful time together. I don’t freakin’ know anymore…

  20. EddiecaX on March 9th, 2019 11:48 am

    Confirm that you are not a robot, and That is an amazingpresent for you.

  21. Ani on March 30th, 2019 6:32 pm

    This is one of your best posts. It should be on billboards!

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