If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest you read the following NY Times article entitled The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give. It’s okay—I’ll wait right here until you get back. Otherwise I’m not sure the title (or content) of today’s blog post will make much sense.
I’m often convinced that when it comes to relationships, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I couldn’t possibly bestow any pearls of wisdom on someone about love, commitment, and creating the kind of love that lasts FOREVER, because (like many of you, I imagine), I’m still learning as I go. And aren’t we all just slightly terrified of the finality of that seven-letter word?
It’s a far cry from the advice I tried to give while I was in my 20s about relationship dealbreakers, the kinds of men to avoid online (though admittedly, that probably still holds true), and what to expect at different milestones in your relationship.
I’ve learned that there is no mold, no normal, no benchmark, and certainly no across-the-board teachings that could possibly define every couple. The arguments that Bryan and I have today aren’t the same ones we had in previous relationships, nor are they of substance/relevance to other people. And yet, they speak volumes, they define who we are, how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.
Sometimes I think that any outsider examining our relationship might think that Bryan and I suffer from extreme bipolar tendencies.
“There’s a very fine line between loving and hating the person you’re with,” my bestie reassured me over lunch one day as we swapped relationship woes and lamented about the annoying things our partners do.
“How do you know whether or not to stay together?” I asked, between bites.
“You start to think about what life would be like without your partner. Can you imagine continuing on without Bryan beside you?”
“No,” I stared back. I couldn’t. I didn’t even want to think about it and when I did, I felt that lump in the back of my throat get thick and heavy.
I made a conscious decision that day to roll up my sleeves when the going got tough and especially on those days when I just wanted to extend a giant middle finger to the relationship and to the work it entailed.
“In Zen Buddhism, meditation helps practitioners detach from the cycle of desire and suffering. In my brief stint as a religious studies major, I preferred Pure Land Buddhism, an alternate path to enlightenment for people who (as one professor told us) may find it difficult to abandon worldly pain and passion because those things can also yield such beauty and comfort. He summed it up as: “Life is suffering — and yet.””
Yes. What about those “and yet” moments?
The breakthrough in the middle of a heated debate when you and your significant other finally see eye to eye. The smile and laughter that breaks the silence. The tender kiss and loving embrace after a dry spell. Or, the gentle kiss Bryan left on my forehead this morning when he left for work and asked if I was cold.
In her article, Ada Calhoun takes a good look at the vows people repeat to each other as they tie the knot. The promises to be each other’s best friend always, in sickness and in health.
Acceptance in the “and yet” moments seems to be of the utmost importance. And yet Bryan says ‘State Farms’ instead of ‘State Farm’; and yet sometimes I will play backseat driver and he’ll have to stop yelling and get over it; and yet there are days when I want to stab him in the eyeball with a pencil.
What are some of your “and yet” moments?