John has been out of town this week, his absence both a bit of alone-time luxury and the pang of an essential puzzle piece gone missing. I texted him last night, about how I’d caught sight of my earrings — the diamond studs he gave me many years ago — and remembered how cherished I felt by that gift, how I still feel special when I see those sparkling stones. You made an investment in me, I wrote. We invested in each other, he wrote back.

Marriage most definitely is an investment, one that can sometimes feel like a bad gamble on penny stocks. There are times when it feels like there is not one single thing more to give, and yet you must, you can’t just bank on what’s already been put in.

It’s a long game. God, there are so many things to weather over the years. The chart of a marriage can look like an electrocardiogram, staggering up and down all those hills and valleys of two intertwined lifetimes.

In our instant-gratification culture I think it’s become harder for us all to really grasp what it means to do a thing for decades. Raising children can be so consuming it’s hard to imagine what life looks like when they’re off to college; how there is, if we’re lucky, so much more time to be spent in yet another season of marriage, one where it’s just the two of you. Like it was at the beginning, but with a completely different set of perspectives. The landscape is nothing like it was. The person you were back then isn’t the person you are now, and the same is true for your partner. What a miracle it is, really, if you can still be walking side by side.

There have been times when I did not believe John and I would make it and I guess I have to say I’m grateful for the experience, as bleak and awful as it was. It forged something in me, a resolve to keep doing the work. Being married is sometimes as easy as breathing but I never forget that it is an investment. It takes both of us to keep it going, it takes effort.

John and I don’t align politically and that’s been very difficult in the last few years, and I imagine this coming election is going to be hard on both of us. I don’t love that we’ve become so different in that regard but I love him. I love us. I love that we’ve come this far and we’re still in it, we’re still going, we never gave up.

Comments

12 Responses to “Shareholders”

  1. Elizabeth_K on January 23rd, 2020 11:34 am

    My husband and I are on the EXACT same page politically and every word you said still resonates, deeply. The work … and the meaning of the work .. sometimes feels like the most important part of my life. We married and had a child three months later (he was born 1 year and 2 months after we met), so the vast unknown that awaits us when our three children grow up is scary and exciting. Thanks for sharing yourself and your marriage with me over the years — I’ve been inspired.

  2. Sian on January 23rd, 2020 12:33 pm

    Super grateful to read this because gosh it is hard and the seasons change and we change and it is such a relief to know that there are people for whom there are still challenges but that it’s worth working through.

  3. Kate on January 23rd, 2020 12:36 pm

    This is so beautiful Linda. Never giving up felt like something less than aspirational when my husband and I were in our darkest places. It felt like settling, and shouldn’t we all want more?! But what a gift time has been. Now I see that it’s actually the thing I’m proudest of. And it’s the thing that reassures me we can get through anything.

  4. Jeanette on January 23rd, 2020 1:53 pm

    There is a certain pride that comes from a being part of a marriage that has weathered the storms, especially when 50% of them don’t! You know how to do it and you have riding those waves down pat! I should know, my husband and I have been married for almost 43 years!

  5. Beth on January 23rd, 2020 4:44 pm

    Can’t imagine being married to someone defending the indefensible right now. Seen at least one marriage crumble because of it. Godspeed.

  6. Jan on January 23rd, 2020 5:16 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful heartfelt words. My husband of more than several decades is currently in the hospital with kidney failure.

    At the beginning of our marriage we promised to always talk things out because we are in this marriage to stay. Not always easy to say the least. There is comfort in that promise and comfort in our marriage. sounds like you are finding comfort in yours. No matter what is to come.

  7. Lisa on January 23rd, 2020 5:50 pm

    So beautifully put. My husband and I do align politically, and we are child free by choice, so some might think it would be smooth sailing for us all the time, but you are right- marriage and long term partnership is an investment. In some ways my husband and I have more challenges because we don’t have children to our first. It’s just us, and it’s all consuming, but 99% of the time, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I told my mother tonight when we were on the phone that every day is Valentine’s Day if you are with someone long term. It’s so worth the investment.

  8. Frannie on January 24th, 2020 11:27 pm

    A good relationship is built, it needs a solid foundation. You can agree to meet where each of you stand. I find it beautiful to see married couples prevail, take the cards they’re dealt with and come up winning at the end of the day. I agree we live in capricious times. It’s showing up, everyday. It makes long term love when healthy, that much sweeter. All the best.

  9. 24hrs Printing on January 27th, 2020 10:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing this amazing info with us.

  10. Lindsay on January 28th, 2020 7:37 pm

    I feel you on every point on this post. My husband and I are at a point when it won’t be too long at all before every kid is college age or older and I think we’ve both made a conscious effort to get closer the last couple of years in preparation for that time. I think not enough is written about the love that withstands the test of time – It’s a really special thing, and hard-won.

  11. Mackenna on February 6th, 2020 9:26 pm

    I’m always impressed by your thoughtful insight, your compassion and your reach. I feel you on the politics. The Republican side is too far gone for me to be able to understand its supporters but I also know that people are complex and when you get to know individuals or at least some of them, there’s nuance. Having said that, I hope your politics wins in 2020! LOL. I’m praying it does.

  12. TravelingBlush on February 14th, 2020 3:38 am

    After 15+ years, your blog is still one that I truly enjoy.

    Best wishes for the next few decades…

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