I sometimes wonder how I’m married. It’s not the actual ceremony I don’t remember, that’s a very happy moment. It was late August at an old monastery. My wife wore white and was lovely and happy and full of smiles. It’s also not that something is wrong now, there was no fighting last night or last week. It’s wonderment that anyone is married.
Marriage is a hard thing to even conceptualize much less do. You spend 18, or 24, or 35 years becoming this person with one set of dreams, family traditions, ways to make coffee in the morning and then you find this other person. Now there are different ways to dream, celebrate with family and make coffee in the morning, these are your tolls for marriage. It’s like you’re an engineer, building the train and tracks for your life when suddenly or slowly you find this other person with a different train and different tracks and you think that instead of crashing together, maybe these two trains can make an even better one. Often they do.
When your trains come together there is lots of excitement and you don’t immediately notice that one person gets more cars put on than another and your new train looks more like one persons earlier version than another. My sister-in-law, one of the world’s greatest parents had to move to Connecticut for her train when her solo tracks were laid towards Ohio. Other friends have trains that now include sickness, or income, or life choices that weren’t even on their maps.
These trains, our marriages, our lives – none are ever even. One person always makes more money, one person changes more diapers, one person makes more of a mess and one person will clean up more messes. What matters isn’t that things work out evenly but that things just work.
I’m reading, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, a wonderful book of essays about love and marriage and life and the hills we need to climb and the thrills we get going down and there was this part on love, page 107:
Look. I know it’shard. It’s all so damn hard and confusing and complicated and things get wound up so tight you can’t even find the ends sometimes…
Love is not something for which to search or wait or hope or dream. It’s simply something you do.
Love takes actions, not reciprocal actions, not I want to do something nice to have sex actions, not I’m in the doghouse and owe you something actions. Love takes actions that are unbalanced. Love takes actions that you just keep giving and giving and giving, without regard for the balance. That’s what keeps the train moving.
Train tracks have a permanence to them that is easy to notice. We rarely notice this about roads because we take them for granted but train tracks are different. Train tracks required the manipulation of land. Trees were cut, mountains carved, bridges build. Laying train tracks was real work if you wanted to get from one point to another. Even where trains don’t run anymore you can see where the tracks were, opening trees or mountains or spanning rivers.
If you haven’t found the other parts of your train yet, don’t worry. That might mean that you aren’t finished building yours. You might need more cars or track or a better engine. It also might mean that the person you might meet hasn’t finished theirs either. Take your time.
When you do get hitched enjoy it but remember that is becomes our work and our destination but the our isn’t your half and their half. It’s your part and their part. If you can find your part and they theirs it’ll be a great journey.