To Be Married

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For someone who has been telling the internet all the things about all the things for the last few years there is one thing that doesn’t get a lot of press: my marriage.

It isn’t that I haven’t tried. Like I write my girls a letter every year on their birthdays, I have wished to, meant to, tried to, write a letter to my husband at least a dozen times. I have the half-written posts in my queue to prove it. The short story is this: I don’t write about marriage because I don’t think I am particularly good at it. Mostly I think I just got really lucky.

We met when I was eighteen and married a few months after I could legally toast my own marriage with the champagne we drank at our reception. I suppose we could have waited, maybe until I graduated, but everyone who knew us had the same sentiment: Why wait? You are going to get married, might as well be now.

We have transitioned careers and states together. We have transitioned into parenthood, twice in sixteen months. We have bought a house, we have grown in our faith and our politics. We have changed. Mostly together.

Marriage is still the hardest thing that I do. I am good at the logistics, the doing of two kids, two careers, one degree ending, one maybe in the works. I am good at getting everyone fed and bathed and making sure there is space to get all the words written, (when a rhetorician marries a writer there are a lot of words that need written).

But I am not so good at the being. If I am bringing you my whole mess, I am not good at the being seen. But isn’t that what marriage means? Isn’t that what you are promising, in sickness and in health to be with each other?

Lucky for me, my husband is good at this part, the being part. He pulls me out of the daily activities and onto the couch, where I sometimes (okay often) fall asleep three-quarters of the way through the show we are watching together. He suggests I put my phone and laptop away and not just connect to him, but to myself. He knows before I do when I am headed for a burn out.

That part is hard for me sometimes, the really being seen, the someone else knowing. We have changed, we have grown, we are different from where we started. I didn’t marry a rhetorician, he didn’t marry a writer. But in many ways we are the same. We have the same faults, the same fights, the same soft spots and places we bump into each other. The being, that is the hardest part, also seems to be the most important.

There are days, after the kids are in bed and the work is done, that I simply do not think I have the energy to be seen. But still we try, we show up, we try to see each other. We don’t always make it, sometimes the day collapses in on us. Sometimes we have a few of those days in a row. Still we try, still we show up, still we try to see each other.

After ten years I think we will probably keep circling around some of this forever. I hope the more we walk those paths, the easier it will get. Perhaps we will cut new paths that avoid the old places all together.

Abby Norman

Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta. She swears a lot more than you would think for a public school teacher and mother of two under three. She can’t help that she loves all words.She believes in champagne for celebrating every day life, laughing until her stomach hurts and telling the truth, even when it is hard, maybe especially then.

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  • Lindsey Smallwood

    Beautiful Abby, yes, the hard part can be allowing ourselves to show up and be seen. We just went on a family vacation together and it took 24 hours of being together with my husband to work through all the hard/weird/angsty/awkwardness before we could sit and be together comfortably again. I think because we’re not doing a good job of it on the ordinary days. But here’s to showing up and trying.

    • Abby Norman

      Yeah. It is hard to get OUT of the daily grind.

  • This is really beautiful, and makes me consider what it is to be seen, and why it’s difficult to ask for it.

  • Love this. It’s so vulnerable and beautiful and hopeful. Even though it’s such hard work to be, to be seen, to work through the same soft spots over and over, the growth is evident. Yes, yes!

  • pastordt

    Oh, yeah. I get this one. It is hard being seen – but it does get easier, I promise. Some fights stay the same, yes, you’re right. That’s because you’ll never be the same person — you can’t be! — but you’ll get closer to it as the years go by. And the rough parts make the smooth parts even more lovely. Thank you for this, Abby.