As of the day this releases, I have been married to my wonderful wife, Elaine for three years. And of course, like any good marriage, we have had our good times, our fun times, our hard times, our sad times, and the most memorable times of our lives. While all that is fine and worth talking about, it’s not the point of me writing this. Because I don’t want to focus on all the ups and downs; today I’d like to focus on the times in between.
Life is a handful of memorable moments followed by a sea of mundane stretches of time.
I promise, this isn’t a depressing post, but I needed to get that off my chest. To say that every moment with my wife is the best moment of my life would be a complete lie. Have we shared amazing moments? Absolutely. Am I at the peak of my existence as I sit here and peck out words on a laptop while Elaine reads Michelle Obama’s Autobiography on the couch across from me? God, I hope not.
What is truly amazing though, is that despite all the forgettable moments in between, we still grow both as people and as a team daily. I might not be able to tell you the moment we started literally reading each other’s minds but I know it didn’t happen trecking the side of a mountain or browsing an unfamiliar city. I couldn’t recall for the life of me what seemingly trivial conversations yesterday held or what micro-decisions we made but I know it takes those things to grow.
The little things drive us forward
I don’t love my wife more every day. There, I said it. As poetic as it might sound to say “Oh darling, I just love you more with every passing moment”, sadly, that would be a gigantic lie. But what I can say is that in those moments I reach a new depth of love, it comes only through plateaus. It takes having a moment to stop climbing and just gazing off the precipice at what we have built. It takes a moment of rest to push the extra mile. We have been through heaven and hell but without a little time grounded here on earth we wouldn’t have ever made it out together.
Sometimes I am focused on me. Many times I am so caught up in the weeds of life that I can’t see the proverbial forest through the trees if you will. But let’s be honest, a life spent gawking at the vast jungle before you, while beautiful to look at, never gets you anywhere. You have to put your head down, grab your machete, and beat the hell out of some bushes while you attempt to keep an eye on your compass to maintain your bearing.
This has been our marriage. No, I have not grown in love every single day for my wife, at least I haven’t realized it at the moment. But when I make it to the next clearing I am able to stick my head up through life’s canopy and see just how far we’ve made it. Sometimes those clearings sneak up on me: A quiet moment as we sit by the fireplace or as we eat our usual breakfast (Eggs and toast). While other times they are pre-planned like a nice vacation or a day out with friends. No matter the cause, it is in these moments where I can see just how far we have come and my love for Elaine spikes to an all-time high.
Perspective creates growth
When runners say they love to run they don’t mean it the way it comes across. No one starts out saying, “Man, I love the way my lungs feel when I first start running. It’s just so invigorating to gasp for air”. This is not exactly my idea of a good time. But as you repeat the action, you begin to gain endurance. You grow stronger. You can go farther and push even harder. The burning sensation goes from agony to a sign of growth. It might be uncomfortable but the burn means you are about to hit a new milestone. And in those periods of rest is when you recognize just how much stronger you have become.
The same is true for our relationships. The daily grind can hurt, it can be boring, it can even cause fatigue but in those moments of rest, you realize just how strong you both have become.
Growth is always happening but it’s not applied until you notice it.
This brings me to the apotheosis of this writing. While technically speaking, I might always be growing in love and compassion for my wife, but that growth is not applied until I take the time to stop the trudging and recognize how far we have come. In that single moment, every bit of experience floods my mind and the big picture comes into focus. Like a masterful portrait, the colours all come together to make what was once just a bunch of abstract splotches and lines to become a work of art more beautiful than anything I could have ever dreamed of creating.
Elaine, It’s been three wonderful years. Here’s to every other adventure this life has. So let’s sharpen our machetes and get whacking.
(PS. If you would like to make this even more personal, go back and read this again but sub out Elaine/relationships/wife for “God”. Honestly, the story rings just as true there.)