People have always said that marriage is hard work. I've never understood what they meant. I've always felt like the rest of this life is hard work, but marriage is the soft place. I may not have an easy time with co-workers or friends or the random people in the supermarket, but my husband loves me, and that's it. End of story.
As is so often the case, time and life experience has caused me to re-examine my beliefs. Yes, everybody, you're right: Marriage can be hard work.
Paul and I had a long talk last night. It started with one of my snippy, passive-aggressive comments regarding the dishes, progressed to actual listing of household responsibilities, hit its peak with a few choice f-bombs on my part, and ended with a few epiphanies, a few tears, and forgiveness.
Paul is an introvert. He's not a flashy like a crashing wave. Rather, he's still, like a tide pool. People are attracted to the white spray and the ocean mist, and they skip the life and vibrancy of his unassuming little puddle.
Paul can do anything. If I asked him to build a planter in our backyard, or install solar panels or to become a beekeeper, he would read up, gather the proper materials, and do an amazing job. This would be done humbly, as befits the descendant of Wisconsin dairy farmers and lumberjacks.
He is the world to our boys. They seek him out, and already there is that masculine sharing of wisdom, an unspoken chemistry that I simply cannot replicate. Yet, there is no distance, no Norwegian stoicism. He kisses them and holds them and tells them, again and again, that he loves them.
I love him, and he loves me, so why are we having long, emotional talks? I think it's what people have to do sometimes---bring up the ugly, and shake out the dirtiness.
I bought Paul a carpet shampooer for his birthday one year, and it remains one of his favorite gadgets. Periodically, he'll shampoo our carpets, and we're always astounded and appalled at the sheer filthiness under our feet. It's there, but it's usually buried deep.
Likewise, our dirt is so often unspoken, or simply unnoticed. Occasionally, though, it comes out. I am extremely passionate, often impatient, and the perfect balance of an introvert and an extrovert. I need alone time but I also need lots of conversation and activity. Add in the stress of young children, and a soupcon of control issues, and that makes a person who is, admittedly, high maintenance
Paul, on the other hand, is methodical and as even-tempered as I am passionate. He knows that he should try harder to make friends and keep up with existing friends, but the process of picking up the phone is emotionally draining. After a day of interacting with co-workers and customers, and then immediately focusing on his children, all he wants to do when the kids are in bed is recharge his batteries. Alone.
And, because I am inconsistent, sometimes I am right there with him, and sometimes I need him to talk to me. I desire his company, and feel lonely without it.
So, you see: work. How do we balance these needs? When does he go out of his comfort level, and when do I? Is marriage even about leaving comfort levels?
Your two cents?