We labour, side by side, in the fading light of day. It is pitch black night when we finally find ourselves putting back together that which was torn apart. Fixing that which was broken. Restoring all to a temporary semblance of normalcy. At 19 years of marriage (Husband told everyone that “we’ve had 10 years of blissful happiness” leaving the rest of those years up to anyone’s imagination): this was the year that a few of our appliances decided to call it quits. And so today was the day that it was “out with the old, and in with the new”. Not really what we had in mind for a beautiful summer day- to spend it holed up inside a kitchen chiseling off counter top that stubbornly resists accepting a new stove. Never mind the fact that there is now about an inch of counter-top that no longer covers the gap between the sawed-off counter and nearby sparkling new stove-top. And add to all this, the fact that we’ve spent the day forcing two fridges and two stoves through a door frame that inevitably cracked underneath the pressure. But then again, if things are going to change, a little bit of work, exertion and effort is necessarily involved.
Isn’t this the way.
To say that it has been a long day- with a few unexpected, unanticipated surprises that served to try more than a little of our patience- is an understatement. And now, with the added discovery at 11:00 at night, of what appears to be a thousand (I kid you not) little tiny skeletal and translucent flying beings over top our heads- hovering around the recessed lighting in our kitchen, I come undone. I will also refrain from going into gruesome detail about the tiny silver-fish I had earlier found squirming beneath the covers of our bed which had started me off mid-morning on an emotional train-wreck.
“I am leaving tomorrow… for Charlottetown,” I sputter. “I can’t handle this house anymore!” I slop the mop back inside the bucket and furiously resume mopping an area of the floor that I had just covered, while Husband takes this as his cue to exit the room. We know each other so well.
After a restless night’s sleep (in which I find myself gritting my already brittle teeth), I wake up the next morning and in discovering the piles of dead bugs/creatures all over my counter-tops, floors and table, I resist the urge to flee and instead choose to re-vacuum and re-mop the floors. And also scour any other surface where more of the same were discovered.
This is my life. Your welcome for all the additional details you’d rather not have read.
In between all the toil and drudgery, I take a moment to check my news-feed and find an interesting article on marriage that I curiously stop to read. Within the article, the author expounds upon the fact that there is too much emphasis on marriage being work. Marriage should not be WORK, the author contends- it should just be a flow. It is about compassion, compromise, and partnership, yes- but it is not- or should not- be about work.
I hesitate to accept this notion.
While I have not been married as long as the author of this article (that marriage is on its 31st year), in the 19 years that Husband and I HAVE been married, there certainly has been a fair bit of work involved. Building a relationship requires work, building a family requires work, managing a home requires work, understanding one another requires work, managing employment and home schedules, complete with extracurricular activities for our four children is almost a full-time job in itself: all things that I would define as demanding and at times, laborious. Replacing appliances also requires work, but I think I have covered/expounded upon that topic enough already.
Work is always part of moving forward. Putting one foot in front of the other is an act of effort, so why shouldn’t marriage be characterized as an act/ labour of love?
In my opinion, work has gotten a bad-rap these days. For while it is true that work can mean toil, drudgery, a slogging away at something difficult, work can also mean something far more beautiful. For someone to become a concert pianist, they must work at the technique, skills, theory and compositional aspects of piano mastery. This is not something that happens without considerable effort. For someone to become a writer, there must be hours and hours of time invested in formation of ideas, development of word choice, organizational structure, conventions, fine-tuning of sentence fluency. Of course, this listing of examples is inexhaustible. Marriage certainly could be described as work when one holds it up to any other example one could offer.
But here is the thing: whether we call a rose by any other name, it is still a rose. Whether we admit that marriage is work or something else, it is still a commitment that requires dedication, loyalty, faithfulness, obligation, service and a degree of devotion. The degree to which this work is deemed strenuous and arduous drudgery or beautiful and valued production is in the eye of the beholder.
The thing is, marriage is something. And anything worth having is worth actively doing something about. Something is required of marriage: it is just our perceptions about that ‘elusive something’ that might differ.
In 19 years of marriage, I have come to discover the following about marriage:
While marriage is an act of compassion, it takes great effort at times to see that compassion woven into the fibre of a marriage.
While marriage is an act of compromise, it takes wherewithal to make the decision to even get to the point of compromise. Sometimes this never happens at all. And then marriage becomes an act of sacrifice.
While marriage is partnership, there is no duo known to man that haven’t had to, at times, find ways of fine-tuning the relationship so that it will “work” for both parties involved.
Marriage is going to take work. But that work of love, commitment and sacrifice can end up being the creation of the most beautiful tour de force your life will ever showcase.
Marriage is effort. Hard work at times and an easy endeavor at others. But it is always going to entail some exertion at some point along the way. It is a true work of love which makes it both beautiful and worthwhile.
Marriage is, above all- both ‘love at work’ as well as a ‘work of love’: a composition of two souls blending hearts together.