Have you seen the recent NYT opinion piece about marriage—and why you will marry the wrong person? If you have a chance, I definitely encourage you to read it. Michael and I read the article and it made us reflect on how tolerating differences with generosity is the key to a strong marriage. It says,
"The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently—the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition."
I also just read this article in The Atlantic, and I thought that the conclusion perfectly captures what a lot of couples face:
"There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart. In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward."
I never realized how challenging marriage and building a family would be. But the reality is, that it's easy to get distracted by life's daily responsibilities, and it's easy to let satisfaction slip away. One night after Connor went to sleep I went to the grocery store alone. It was 8:15 pm and the air was a cool 80 degrees. The sun was down but the sky was still light and glowing from the day that was now on its way out. I drove with the windows down and I visited memories from high school, of driving home after soccer practice or work—of feeling free and satisfied—like I had my whole life ahead of me. Even though my life is dramatically different than it was more than a decade ago, I still feel like I have a lot of my life ahead of me. Now I also have the lives of Michael, Ryan and Connor ahead of me too. And when I pause to think about tomorrow, I still feel free. It's a different kind of freedom, a freedom that comes with love and responsibility, and a challenge to be more kind and generous, which on good days, brings with it a lot of satisfaction.
Photo by This Paper Ship.