I think I’m an alright wife.
Without plunging into the realm of the 1950s suppressed housewife cliche, I clean (though there’s room for improvement. Oh so much), I raise our child, and I usually have a hot meal on the table by the time my husband, Chris, gets home from work. Chris, to his credit, is awesome at recognizing the effort that I put into keeping our house running, and in turn he works his butt off at his job so that we can afford a house for me to clean, and food for me to put on the table. We’re like a well-oiled machine. We are “the Donovans”. We have people over for dinners and brunches. We renovate our home. We run errands together on weekends. We watch TV together on the couch. We get KFC when one of us has had a hard day. We laugh together at the antics of our adorable son. We have a weekday morning routine. 11 years since becoming a couple (which was an amazing lesson in bravery by the way!) and 8.5 years since saying “I do”, we’re well and truly in a groove.
Chris is a sound-guy at our Church, which can sometimes be a bit of a thankless job. He often arrives on a Sunday morning to find changes to the sound system, cables unplugged, missing equipment, a messy stage, or just general disarray. It’s part and parcel for a sound guy. Luckily he happens to be very good at what he does, and by the time the service is starting, everything is always running smoothly once again. But sound guys in churches seem to attract more constructive criticism from the congregation than the average volunteer, and recently, despite the fact that nothing was even going wrong, he managed to cop a small, thinly veiled jab from an ultimately well-meaning member of our church family. As we drove home he had a bit of a vent to me about it, and the sense of injustice was enough for me to tear my eyes away from my Pokemon Go sesh.
“That’s ridiculous,” I shook my head and huffed, “That person has no idea what they’re talking about.”
I hadn’t said much, but in that instant, the situation shifted. Now we were in this together, now two of us felt personally affronted.
Chris looked at me. “Thank you,” he said. His response was short and simple. But his tone said more. He was chuffed to have me on-side, to have another person validate his ruffled feathers, a team-mate who unquestioningly had his back. And in that seemingly insignificant little moment, I thought to myself “This. This is marriage.”
Even with 8.5 years of hot meals, kitchen renovations and Masterchef marathons under your belt, marriage is never stronger than when you tangibly feel like a united front, an impenetrable team. It doesn’t matter if you come up against big things or little things, good things or bad. What matters is how you respond; whether those things affirm your bond or divide you. Maybe it’s found in a husband sympathetically listening to his wife venting about her day at work, or proof-reading her latest blog post before she hits the “Publish” button. Perhaps it’s a wife joining her husband at the latest comic book hero movie because his buddy canceled at the last minute, or cheering for him when he lands a promotion that he has worked hard for. It could be a couple supporting each other through brutal, soul-crushing seasons of fertility treatments, or laughing crazily at their shared favourite comedian. These shared moments of sadness, joy, anger, resignation, loneliness, fulfillment, grief and celebration that are bound to touch us and beg a response from us not as individuals, but as a pair who have each other’s backs – that’s where marriage is. And that’s where it should be.
When you strip us back to our bones, we are just two people struggling through life. But marriage has bound us. It has given us a common goal. It has aligned us in such a way that our differences are less significant than our vows.
And of course, our marriage isn’t always easy. But all it takes is one small moment of unity to get us back in sync, walking the same rocky path together.
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