My husband and I were married nearly 20 years ago in an eclectic Unitarian ceremony. We had readings from The Bible and the Velveteen Rabbit. Vows taken from Shakespeare and music from Andrew Lloyd Webber. An invocation from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets and a benediction from a Native American blessing. In fact, the minister said it was perhaps the most eclectic ceremony she had ever performed. I was proud of that, and still am. Every word of that ceremony had meaning to us.
But of all the readings and lyrics and pronouncements and wise words, the one that has stuck with me the most is these words by Transendentalist Theodore Parker:
It takes years to marry completely two hearts, even of the most loving and well assorted... Men and women are married fractionally, now a small fraction, then a large fraction. Very few are married totally, and they only after some forty or fifty years of gradual approach and experiment.
That's not the whole reading, but it's the part that resonates with me almost daily when little things happen to remind me that as different as we are in many respects, as often as we are so busy with work and children and the machinery of keeping our lives going that we sometimes exchange only a handful of sentences in a day, somewhere, on a subconsious plane, or minds are have married.
Take, for example, our painted stairs. The back steps go up three, then turn and go up to the second floor, with the lowest steps "in" the kitchen, not the stairwell. We agreed that the rises on those steps should remain white, to match the lower part of the kitchen walls. Nick painted the rest of the stairway and we were both thrilled with the results. But for a couple of weeks, every time I walked into the kitchen, I regretted that we had not painted the "kitchen" stairs. Yet I didn't want to make Nick drag out all the painting supplies again, and, after all, he liked the bottom stairs white, and the kitchen is mostly his domain. But still, it bugged me.
And then he came home and said, "You know, I think we should paint the rest of the stairway. It just doesn't look right. Do you mind?" Mind? "No! I was thinking the same thing!"
Now, is this a profound moment in a marriage? Painted stairs? No. But these moments happen to us a lot. And more often than the "If he leaves the toothpaste cap off one more time I'm going to knock his block off" moments.
He doesn't bring me roses for no reason (or even for my birthday), but he knows by the edge in my voice when he needs to come to my rescue without commenting or questioning. I'm not at the gym 24-7 to keep my figure in check--but I can sense when he needs me to back off and let him come to a decision in his own time.
We're not that special. Most successful couples learn this. Most successful couples can read each other's minds on the important things. I'm just glad we're among them.