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This Old Marriage

When Andy and I were first dating, I had a dream about a house. It was an old, Victorian house and I lived there. It was like any other old house except that it had no foundation. My big, two-story home sat precariously on a dock in the water. For some reason the house, and the dream, haunted me and I asked people what they thought such a dream could mean. I clearly remember one particular conversation with someone, who at the time, was a relatively new friend. She seemed to think the floating house symbolized my relationship with Andy. There was something big in my life, but I wasn't sure how it would hold up. The house was my future and it had no foundation yet. Where was our relationship going? Was it going to sink or swim? We have no idea of knowing what the future holds, especially when it comes to love.

Remember, a few weeks ago, I wrote about the common idea that children should be seen and not heard? Well I feel it holds true for couples as well. Most of us abide by the rule MARRIAGE SHOULD BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD. How many times do you go to a restaurant and see a couple sitting across from one another, not saying a word? A friend of Andy's read one of my posts and told Andy he needed to, in effect, quiet me down. "People aren't suppossed to talk about this stuff in public, he warned Andy, "My wife reads this and then she gets mad at me about things that happened five years ago!" Readers get uncomfortable reading what I write because they do not like to recognize or admit that they may be experiencing the same thing. And if you are uncomfortable reading about my relationship, seeing it in the flesh can be painful. We are SEEN and HEARD.

We are not your typical couple. We don't hold hands. We don't quietly discuss finances after the dishes are put away and the kids are in bed. We don't have pet names for one another, we don't have date night. We bicker like crazy, call one another names and openly argue. Like two rams, we snort and we charge and lock horns until one of us falls off the cliff and the other stands victorious. Ahh- sounds like your kind of love, doesn't it?

We just don't care. As individuals, Andy and I are not afraid to speak our minds or be like everybody else. It is no surprise then, that as a couple, this attitude is magnified and the only people we want to be happy about our marriage are the two of us. It was a little unnevering for me, the other day, when a relatively newer friend tongue-in-cheek, told us she'd be surprised if we lasted ten years. Little did she know, next year is our ten year anniversary as a couple and we celebrate our sixth year of marriage in less than a month. Needless to say, she got me thinking. How have we lasted for so long? How do two rams share the same cliff for so long?

In preparation for writing this, I asked some of our closest friends and family what they think our "secret" might be. Our old friend, the dream interpreter, had no idea. She said she thought that something must go on behind closed doors, that nobody else can see, something , perhaps gentle and romantic, to offset the eye rolling and quipping.

Our moms, who always have the answer, provided more insight.

My mom, in her short and sweet way, wrote" You let each other vent and then you let it go. And then you start again. You get sick of his collecting and he gets sick of your bitching but then you stop looking in the garage and he puts up a deaf ear. Plus, it helps that you love each other."

Andy's mom, the nurse-who-should-have-majored-in-English wrote, "I strongly believe it was a good thing we were out of the country for the early years of your marriage, because you two fought and loved your way to an ever evolving understanding. You are yin-yang, transforming each other with the ebb and flow of your personalities."

Finally, I went to the source and asked Andy what he thought kept us together. He had one word: honesty. We haven't always been honest in our past relationships but we agreed this time around, we would always tell the truth, and nothing but the truth and so help us, God, that's what we do each and every day.

Most of you, those who know us, can admit it. At one time or another, you doubted the longevity of our relationship and I don't blame you. We don't fit the mold and we don't hide anything behind closed doors. We fight hard but we love harder.

I wish I had a great answer myself. I wish I had a word or poetic phrase to sum up what keeps me and Andy together. I've spent all week thinking of the right words, the smartest things to say. Here it goes. We have common values. We communicate. We forgive. We laugh. And while you may not know it, we really respect one another as parents, professionals and people. We are proud of who we have become and the family we have made.

We bought our house for a good price because the foundation needed to be re-blocked. Within months of the purchase, we came home to one side of our house jutting out into thin air. An entire side of our house rested on absoultey nothing. It was a crazy sight to see and a bit worrisome to sleep there (on the opposite side) knowing our house had no support. After a few days and lots of time, labor and money invested, we got ourselves a beautifully re-blocked foundation. We have worked tirelessly on our house placing new windows, renovating the kitchen, refinishing the hard wood floors. We added an addition and doubled our space. It's a wonderfully, perfect place to call home, from which to witness our futures unfold.

In nine years, I've never again had another dream about the old house without a foundation.

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