Monday, August 24, 2009

The Marriage of True Minds

I can't believe I'm going to be this sappy in front of so many people. Oh, well. It is what it is.

I had this theory when I was young (and thinking about love) that for a marriage to succeed, those who entered into it had to be opposites: that on a big continuum of qualities and characteristics, each partner needed to be equidistant from the center line. This was largely based on observations of my parents, a definite marital success story, but by no means the only type. My mom is intense and expressive and passionate and (don't get mad, Mom) a bit of a reactionary and full of bluster. My dad only raises his voice to call the dog in, takes everything in stride, never gets ruffled, and, if I'm being honest, has a lot less to say than my mom does. This also means my dad is a bit oblivious to many of the little things that go on in a marriage, but never misses when it comes to the really big, really important parts. They were, individually and together, excellent examples for me as I was growing up, observing, and formulating my own ideas about what a truly committed partnership should be like.

When I was a teenager, I vividly remember watching some sappy, sad tv movie with my mom and my sister. They both cried through all the appropriate parts of the show, and while I could understand why they were moved, and I could have told you that it was sad, I did not react with the same level of emotion. It was always like this. I thought I was missing something, like part of my girl-genes were not plugged in the way they should be. It wasn't that I didn't feel things intensely -- I have always felt personal feelings and experiences with great intensity and passion -- but when it came to other people, or depictions of other people designed to evoke emotion, I still, somehow, remained detached, with rare exception. This makes me sound cold. Maybe I was -- engaged in my own life, but standing apart from everyone else's. Then, I could have waxed poetic for hours about a Dvorak symphony, and was frequently reduced to tears by a musical experience; I dove head-first into literature and identified acutely with the works and characters of the masters; but I was, to say the least, intense, more than a little self-centered and seriously lacking in the empathy/sympathy departments.

I don't honestly know how my family tolerated me.

I've already written The True Story of CPod and InkMom. Go read it if you haven't yet. It was fun to write, because I got to remember all the fun parts of dating and courtship. And while all the fun parts are an important part of the story, probably the best part, they barely scratch the surface of the changes that I underwent when I met this man.

Suddenly, I cried. At stuff I wouldn't have cried over before. I remember coming home for Christmas that year, getting teary-eyed over a vacuum commercial, and wondering what was wrong with me.

It's taken me a while to realize what happened, what strange power CPod held over my emotional self. But I think I've finally figured it out. For the first time in my life, I was thinking more about someone else than I was about myself. And it opened this door into . . . reality. I walked through it into a place where everyone, not just me, was experiencing heartache and happiness and shame and love and disappointment and joy and pain, and it was a world full of colors that I hadn't noticed before because I had been so focused on myself. He literally held the key to my heart, and with it, he flipped the switch on my ability to empathize, to see things from another perspective, to love.

We celebrated our 12th anniversary a week or so ago, and as I've reflected on our experiences together, I have marvelled at the Lord's visible hand in our lives. What if I had, actually, married another narcissistic musician? I shudder to think what a trial like, oh, I don't know, 7 years of infertility would have done to a marriage like that one. But for us, that trial solidified our commitment to one another, to live the Gospel, to be satisfied with the incredible blessings we already had just because we had each other.

I would argue that ours is one of the greatest love matches of all time. I hope everyone feels that way about their marriage. But I know it about mine. We are supremely, divinely, perfectly compatible. My heart still skips to feel the delicate touch of his hand on my arm, to meet his eyes across a room full of people and know that he is mine, to catch a glimpse of his tall and lanky figure in the audience from the stage during a concert, to see him chase around our clutch of rambunctious boys who all, contrary to genetic probability, look just like him.

William Shakespeare wrote many sonnets about love. My favorite is Number 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose Worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

This is what we have -- the marriage of true minds: that mellows and intensifies its flavors with age; that lasts through tempests (don't think we don't have them!) and stands constant while our ships, though moored together, float independently on the water; that inspires in its participants a desire to be better, and as a whole, accomplishes more than ever could be done individually. My successes are his successes, his triumphs, mine, and our sorrows are ours together. He humors my intellectual excesses, tempers my emotional instabilities, strengthens my spiritual frailties, encourages my outside endeavors, and keeps me laughing through all of it. And while I have been known to fail here and there, and my efforts sometimes fall short, I know that my presence in his life is just as essential to his happiness as his is to mine: equally yoked in more ways than one. Blessed. Lucky. Loved. Forever.

Happy anniversary to us.

22 comments:

  1. Happy anniversary to you! I loved this. I think that Adam is also perfect for me and was meant for me.

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  2. This is so beautifully expressed, and an inspiration to us all. In an ideal world everyone would have a perfect match like yours.

    I think my husband and I are perfectly matched as well...passionate, creative, deeply spiritual, yet different enough to complement each other...when we're not duking it out! :)

    Happy Anniversary!

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  3. Aw shucks. :) I love you both.

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  4. I absolutely loved this. I too believe my husband and I are one of the greatest matches of all time. It's so amazing to me to see how everything in our lives had to line up in order for us to find each other and be together, but it just proves to me it was neither chance nor an accident. I've never known anyone who could love me better.

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  5. Happy Anniversary Craig and Emily. What a beautiful post. I am so happy to see that you feel you are so perfectly matched. Aaron & I have seen so many people who seem unhappy and we feel so blessed to have eachother and the amazing relationship that we have. It is the greatest blessing to have a spouse who completes you.

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  6. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing it.

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  7. I know I've said this before, but I truly love your prose! The way you put words together strikes a cord with me and this one was particularly sweet because you captured my feelings exactly!

    Short story summarized (you may have heard it) When Elder Holland was engaged to his wife Pat, she came home from a date and was upset about something. She flopped down on the bed and told her dad that she couldn't marry that man. Her dad calmly said (I'm sure this isn't word for word), "You have too, honey." When she asked why, he said, "Because the rocks in his head will fill the holes in yours." A funny way to express how we complete each other and more together than the sum of what we would be apart.

    I'm glad you posted! Even though you were reticent.

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  8. I have a little theory--that everyone has to have their trials somewhere. For some people this means really rocky marriages. For some people this means 7 years of infertility. For some people this means having a child with a terminal genetic illness and then giving birth to more children at once than the intended too... As for me, I have always been so grateful that my marriage is not the trial. My marriage is the safest and most beautiful place in my life--and I love that it is that way. We just celebrated our 22nd anniversary and count our blessings every day! Congrats on yours!

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  9. Congratulations on your anniversary! It's so great to be understood.

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  10. True sappy stories are the best.

    12 years ... I'm only 6 years behind ;)

    Congratulations for the years together, for the rough times survived, for the love that keeps you two together and for many more wonderful to come!!!

    I know Matt and I are a match made in Heaven, which other way would a child from Chile (who wasn't planned) and a child from NC who was the ooops 3rd child they didn't planned to have either got together??? because God wanted it this way. <3 I love our love story, can't wait for our kids to be old enough to understand it. :)

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  11. I loved the phrases about the greatest love stories of all time and being perfectly, divinely matched. I feel the same way (about us, not you guys, silly). Reading your post and the other comments makes me happy to know that there are other couples out there who acknowledge God's hand in their being together and recognize their marriage as an essential vehicle to their happiness and ultimate glory. Well said, well written.

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  12. This is a beautiful post. sniff sniff.. thanks for sharing so openly. i look forward to the door opening tonight and mine own love and strength embrace...

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  13. This is great...you need to print it and give it to C for Christmas! Who would not be on Cloud 9 after someone just wrote this about you?

    You are blessed, we love your whole awesome family!

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  14. Indeed happy anniversary to you. I can totally relate. I remember seeing a movie with my mom and she cried when someone died and I was like, "what?" Then I had children. Now, I can't handle anything.

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  15. Congratulations. This was beautifully written. And, you are lucky. Both of you.

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  16. Many happy years to you both! We're closing in on 25 and going strong. You are such a wonderful writer, Miz E. My favorite lines from a WS sonnet are:

    Then happy I that love and am beloved,
    Where I may not remove nor be removed.

    There's something of the eternal in those words, something that speaks to the immovability of a love shared by two people in it for the duration!

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  17. You won the Lemonade Award. Check out my blog for your award.

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  18. Very well put! I think it is happening less and less that people are finding true joy love and friendships in their marriages, I am grateful we both did!!!

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  19. Wow! You wrote that so beautifully. Every now and then I jump over to your blog. And now I've actually met you. Briefly, anyways. What a small world. And the musical number was beautiful.

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  20. Is it redundant to say that this was beautiful? Yes, but I'll say it anyway. Congratulations on 12 years and a grand relationship!

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  21. happy anniversary to you.
    So well written.

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Sock it to me!