“Marriage years are like dog years”. That’s exactly what he said.
My husband of 29 years delivered that cheeky line as I was asking one of our daughters if she had any comprehension how long twenty-nine years really is. Our 29th anniversary was yesterday and my hubby and I were musing about the nature of marriage in general and our marriage in particular.
Our daughter answered that she thought she had a pretty good idea, as she would be closing in on twenty-nine in just a few years. I said, “Yeah, but these are marriage years”, in response to which my husband (who by the way is not particularly witty or funny) chimed in “Yeah. Marriage years are like dog years”.
My husband and I busted a gut —fist bumps —more laughter. It was a joke only the two of us really got as we were the only married people in the room.
Trying to explain marriage to someone who hasn’t been married is like trying to explain physics to a dog. It’s just something you can’t really understand it until you’re in it. Even then it takes years to fully appreciate the many facets of this journey we call marriage.
There is no perfect metaphor for marriage, but in my experience, a roller coaster ride comes pretty darn close. On the front end you can’t wait for the ride to begin. You eagerly buy your tickets, get in line and dream of how amazing your new life together will be.
Finally it’s your turn to join the fun. You buckle up, sit back and anticipate the thrill. The ride typically starts out pretty smoothly. You hold hands, feeling the breeze and sun on your face as you gently ‘click-click-click’ up the first hill. You’re grinning ear to ear because you just know it’s going to be great!
Then for a brief moment you’re on top of everything. It’s quiet and calm as you catch a glimpse of the whole grand view of life. It’s beautiful, even more amazing than you imagined. You snuggle closer and lock arms.
Then you blink and find yourselves plummeting into the unknown. Your stomach is in your throat and you’re screaming your lungs out. To afraid to look at what’s coming, you shut your eyes tight and brace for impact. Forget the guy in the seat next to you —it’s every man for himself!
Then almost as suddenly as it began, what seemed like an endless descent is over. You feel life decelerating and realize that somehow you survived the plunge; and you did it together. You’re out of breath, but strangely alive. You give one another a giddy look, let out a good belly-laugh, lock arms and head up the next hill.
One of my favorite pictures of marriage is from an old song recorded by Carly Simon in 1987.
Daddy breezes in
So good on paper
Pay the grocer
You fix the toaster
You kiss the host goodbye
Then you break a window
Burn the soufflé
Scream a lullaby
I think it’s the complexity of marriage that makes it so beautiful: something you can’t really see until you get up close and personal.
My husband Stevie and I are moving into what I like to think are the ‘dog days’ of marriage. We’ve been up and down enough hills now that we are coming to that part of the track when things sort of even out a bit. The adventure isn’t over by any means. But we have a few more opportunities to relax, take in the view, and soak up a bit of summer sun. It’s nice. It’s cozy.
Of course, one never knows what lies beyond the next bend.