Reverb 3. Grown upPosted: December 5, 2011
The third Reverb prompt is: How did you become more of a grown-up this year? Or did you pull a Peter Pan and stubbornly remain childlike?
There are three things that my mom taught me that I am forever grateful for.
The first was that life is not fair. I notice that when people complain about things not being fair, almost always that’s not-so-secret code for “I am not getting my way.”
The second was to be careful who have you sex with. The lesson there is, if you get pregnant and have someone’s baby- that person is in your life forever.
The third and most relevant for this prompt is that being an adult is AWESOME.
I love adulthood. I love the responsibility that comes along with it. I love paying bills. I love it when things are difficult and it means sacrifice and I love it when I must make hard choices. I love it all because it means I am the boss of my life. Being an adult doesn’t feel exactly like I thought it would when I was a kid, but it’s even more awesome than I thought it would be.
This year has been a really challenging one for me because Andy switched from a pretty laid back job to a very demanding job. This meant that we were not able to spend as much time together and all the little bad habits that we’d indulged in with our marriage now became super big issues! Things like not communicating carefully and clearly with each other. Not setting aside time to do things. Not keeping things hot between us. Stuff that when you’re spending plenty of time together it’s easier to ignore because at least you’ve got contact. When we were spending less time together, it became obvious that our marriage needed some significant renovations.
How I became more of a grown up this year is that I took charge of making sure we worked on our issues. My attitude was if this thing falls apart, it’s not going to be because we didn’t make the effort to fix it. There were times when it was enormously painful to look at each or our contributions to the problems (so much easier to blame the other guy!) and there were times when it just felt like Too Much. I can tell you that I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it and I got to a point where I realized that success did not mean staying together. Success meant being in a relationship that worked for both of us. Once that became clear to me, it got so much easier to make the small, but extremely meaningful changes in attitude and actions that helped turned my marriage around.
I take credit for this not because I did all the work, but because Andy is not the sort of person to ever purposely rock the boat. If I didn’t insist on something better for both of us, even if that meant not being together anymore, we would be resentful, angry and deeply unhappy. Doing this work reminded me that while our marriage is the two of us, it’s also somehow separate from each of us. It requires a fair amount of attention and care and nurturing because it’s not just Andy and me. It’s our families and the house and pets and friends and dishes and books and CDs and cars and expectations and disappointments. It’s everything we are separately and everything we are together.
This is all about grown up love. This isn’t about the sort of love you feel. This is about the love that informs your behavior. We’ve been together for 21 years. We became adults together. We are in love, but more than that, we really like each other and every single day we make each other laugh. And taking charge of getting our marriage from a place of laziness to a place of active loving is how I became more of a grown up this year.