I used to imagine that the nature of relationships was uniform, while the natures of the individuals in relationship were varied.  How does that make any sense?  Right.  It doesn’t.  I don’t think it was his fault, but Sheldon Vanauken kind of set me up for a fall in A Severe Mercy, a book I internalized (in high school) as I have internalized few others.  Vanauken’s story of an amazingly trauma-free marriage (with his late wife), their decision to share everything they possibly could, and the closeness that fostered, became my ideal for marriage.  I think I decided that in order to get that (“good marriage”), you have to follow these “marriage rules” which will make your marriage “bulletproof.”  As if it were made of a different material than us (blood, bone, etc.).

And basically, every time Marshall and I fight or have to slog through wretched miscommunications or unkindnesses, etc., I run off and write in my journal something about how I knew I should have waited for a “Van,” with whom, obviously, I could have had a perfect and trauma-free bulletproof marriage.  Either that, or I write about how wretched it is to not be a “Davy,” the kind of woman Marshall deserves, who would every day be hammering more armor on that great trauma-free bulletproof marriage.  Ha.  This is something I am trying very hard to get: my marriage is not a thing (per se), therefore it cannot be — or become — anyone else’s marriage, whether Van and Davy’s, or — all these other horrible marriages.  More important, personifying a relationship is unspeakably confusing…when it separates you from the person with whom you share it / make it.

Trying to understand: my marriage doesn’t have a life apart from me, or apart from Marshall.  The marriage is us.  When the days are dark, here, I must not imagine “my marriage” rolling like a huge boulder down an incline, on its way to crush hikers and old people in their houses and finally become lost and nameless in some oceanic abyss.  Also, when the days are peaceful, simple, and full of gratitude, I must also not imagine that Marshall and I are speeding along in the sleek sporty futuristic vehicle that is “my marriage,” which is on cruise control, and which is also an armored car, which runs on oxygen.  I’m not sure how to understand it, but I know it’s not some kind of matter that is more substantial that I am.  Or that has a willpower or any momentum apart from us, the words we say to each other, our movements, the gestures we make.

I don’t know if any other married person has this kind of weird irrational fear — ha, just kidding, it’s totally rational — that “the marriage” is a teetering boulder or an armored car — by turns — but I felt the need to make some remarks on marriage.  Since our first anniversary was two weeks ago, and I have bounced back and forth between these images a lot in the past couple of months.  I don’t know if any of this makes any sense.  Or if I am a great wife (odds against, currently).  But it’s encouraging to see myself experiencing — as fully as I can — all these things, and trying to learn from them.  That, and lots of other majestic and miserable moments, makes this a Very Good Anniversary.

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