Marriage, midstream.

November 3rd, 2011

Patrick and I attended the fortieth wedding anniversary celebration of friends last weekend, during which the couple renewed their wedding vows.  We felt lucky to witness such a beautiful and rare occasion. Lucky to be sitting side by side, hand in hand, ourselves.

The divorce years are upon us like a season of wild fires. I’ve walked beside several of my dearest friends through the end of their marriages recently. Held their hands through the anger, grief and despair. Hugged their children and their husbands. Mourned as I watched the old life die, then cheered to see the new one emerge from the ashes.

Patrick and I have been through a lot in our fourteen years of marriage. I know some things about being in a relationship. I could list the things we’ve got going for us–the acquired skill set, the inherent affinities, the ties that bind. But I don’t really know why some make it, and some don’t. Only that people change. When I consider how much we’ve changed in fourteen years, it strikes me as a kind of miracle that the two people we are now should be in love as much or more than the people we were back then. The odds seem crazy.

There have been fleeting moments and occasional stretches in which one or both of us haven’t felt so lucky to be in this thing. When we’re in a good place, like now, I look back at those times with the kind of over-the-shoulder relief you feel after absently running a stop sign, or losing control on a patch of ice. Scramble around the variables of timing and circumstance, and it could have been all over. In a fingersnap.

There, but for grace. Stay awake, I tell myself. Don’t drift off like that. Ever. Again. Remember how it feels right now.

But I’ll forget again–for minutes, days, or weeks on end, and so will he. You can’t participate in your own life and observe it from an enlightened distance at the same time. Growing doesn’t happen in the observation; only measuring. The flow of days pulls you both in, takes you under. You come back up to catch your breath, and look around to see how far you’ve come, where you’re headed, and –if you’re lucky–remember how lucky you are.

14 Responses to “Marriage, midstream.”

  1. Lindsey says:

    Oh, wow. This takes my breath away. So, so true. We are witnessing marriages implode and explode around us, as well, and it makes me both thankful and scared, because as you say, there but for grace. Who knows why. Thanks for reminding me to pay attention, to be grateful, to squeeze that hand. xox

  2. Kelly says:

    I’ve also been married for 14 years, and last week we had one of those “come back up and catch your breath” days. Reflection, regret (for the swift passing of everything) and yet so much love, still.

    I actually don’t know anyone in my circle going through divorce, but wonder at what goes on behind a few closed doors. I know a few marriages that seem more like tacit arrangements. (Hope that didn’t just jinx anyone.)

  3. Kris says:

    That is beautiful. You are such a talent with words. I get so excited when I see a post from you pop up in my feeder. Thanks, Kyran.

  4. erniebufflo says:

    Lovely post. I think we could all use some vow renewal now and then. Every time we go to a wedding feels a little like renewing my vows to me. I hold Jon’s hand and get teary thinking about how far we’ve come in our years together, and how far we have to go. I’m a little worried about what TWINS are going to do to our groove, and I kind of wish someone did pre-parental counseling like they do pre-marital counseling, but based on what we’ve been through, I’ve got faith we can survive babies, too.

  5. Bren Flowers says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! As we approach of 15th anniversary, I have been thinking about the years that have passed. We have weathered so many storms….stage III breast cancer, losing a father, liver disease and recently losing a brother at 44. The last 5 years have been so difficult. But we have done it all together. It is not all rainbows and unicorns, but we always stick it out. We don’t know what the future holds, but we will face it holding on to each other.

  6. Diane says:

    Thanks for your beautiful poetry and touch of reality.

  7. A says:

    Hi Kyran, I am commenting again after a long time. Loved your post.

    I see you believe in grace. Please pray for me. I really need God’s grace to make my married life more loving and stronger. Thanks and God bless.

  8. jen lemen says:

    love this, so much.

  9. TrudyJ says:

    Love this post and shared it on Twitter. We have been married 16 years and I feel so many of these things you’ve expressed. And I also have a category on my blog called “Mawwiage.”

  10. Tammy H. says:

    Karen, excellent post. Tom and I will be married 20 years this January and we too have watched marriages of friends which sometimes appeared strong to fall apart at the drop of a hat. Marriage is tough, but it is worth it.

  11. Lee Cockrum says:

    My husband and I have been married for 9 years, been together for 12. I have been noticing the same thing lately, that various friends are struggling. It is anxiety provoking to say the least. I attribute our staying power at least in part to his desire to “never have another ex-wife” and mine to never BE an ex-wife!!

  12. […] celebrated fifteen years of marriage last week, a milestone that falls somewhere between significant and momentous, like middle school […]

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