There are 24 hours in a day. Let's say we sleep from 11 to 8, that leaves 15 hours. Let's say sometimes we spend an hour waking, clothing, and feeding ourselves and two beastlets; 14. From 9 to 12, one or both adults are working, and someone is watching, playing, snacking, napping, diapering, and lunching the kids; 11 hours remain. From 12 to 5, the babes take turns sleeping, and the adults are elsewhere (except Wednesdays), leaving 6 hours. At 5, one adult goes to fetch the kids and bring them home for feeding; most days the other adult is still working. Anytime before 8, there will be dinner, playing, killing time, bathing, calming, and bedtiming, with one or both adults; 3 hours are left from 8 to 11. Three hours of television, internet, hobbies, potentially exercise (but not usually). And brushing teeth. Can't forget that.
The truth is, from Monday to Friday, I have three hours awake and alone with my husband. On any given day, one of us might want to go out and exercise or run an errand. On any given day, we might need to write a sermon, do some homework, balance business accounts, make a birthday card. On any given day, we might go 23 hours until we crawl into bed next to each other and say, "Hello."
Hello. I love you. Good night.
If marriage was supposed to be this magical phenomenon that allowed me to live my whole life with my husband, instead of living apart from him and talking on the phone each night and going on dates each weekend like we did when we were dating - if marriage was supposed to be some fantabulous improvement on that situation... well, I think I'd at least like my weekend dates back ;)
At least we get to share a bed. He is warm and comfortable and stabilizing there, every night. I do like that.
The truth is marriage is about giving each other what's left over at the end of the day. That's not romantic or glittery or anything close to the Hollywood fairy tale. It's exhausted and gritty and full of dregs. I don't store up my most sparkly witty charming self for my Friday date and movie anymore. I am sad to say, more often than not, after patients and children and dickheads on the road, after cooking and cleaning and shuffling the papers from one side of my desk to the other, after living the rest of my life, my husband ends up with the worst of me. The tired drained usually unhappy worst of me.
And he loves me, still. And he tells me all his secrets, still. And he gives me his worst, too, after all his give give give to others others others. And I love him, still. And I tell him all my secrets, still.
The secret is, marriage is work, but it's the best work I do. The truth is, nothing fills me or sustains me or propels me more than the truth I find after 23 hours, curled up on his chest, with nothing to give him, nothing but my breath... my heartbeat... my hand in his hand.
He will take my nothing, and I will take his, and we will build a life together, out of thin air. Out of the worst of each other, we make the best we can. And when I can stop to see it? O God, how beautiful it is.
The secret is, marriage isn't anything I thought it would be, but the truth is, I wouldn't be so grateful for him if it was any. other. way.
He didn't get a valentine this year. But every day, I give him my what's-left, my nothing's-left, my breath. And he loves me, still. And that is what fills me up, for another 24 hours, for another 7 days, for the rest of my life... <3