Friday, August 22, 2008

"I just need to know if it's possible for two people to stay happy together forever. . . "

{Buckle up. It's going to be a long one. But, if you hang on for the ride, you might find it's worth it. Fresh from my journal and my mind, folks. Hang on tight. Here we go . . . }

We had the opportunity last weekend to visit the Getty Center in L.A. Pretty cool place. We've only been there once before, and it was awesome both times. There was a special exhibit on Bernini, the artist credited with creating the baroque style of art. Fascinating stuff - seeing stone made into figure, shape, and form.

The one that really got me, though, was his rendition of Costanza Buonarelli. She was his lover. As I looked at her face, at first I wondered if she looked at the finished product when he was done and said "huh. that's it?!?" Then. . . I looked closer. The color of stone used for hers was different from all the others I saw. It was a peach/pink hue. I noticed how softly and smoothly he crafted her hairline, how delicate her forehead was, the softness of her jawline, the trueness of her chin and the full roundness of it, the way the tendrils of her hair graced the nape of her neck, how her lips were parted with only a hint of her tongue showing, how her neckline plunged a little and revealed the top curve of her right breast.

I noticed all these things and began to wonder how, exactly, one goes about the art of depicting a lover - whether in paint, stone, or the written word - and I still don't know the answer to that question. And was what I saw the product of his first attempt, or were there many, many practice versions to get it just right?

Later, at the wedding reception of M's brother and his wife, we were grouped all in a big circle (why do people do that?) and we were talking about various things relating to being a good parent. M's brother said something to the effect of "my wife is a terrific mother - the best! She's just not a very good wife." She was not present to defend herself, so I asked what he meant. He explained that she is all wrapped up in the kids, she throws herself into their care and how he has tried to help her see that they need to nourish their relationship as well. I said something like "that must be really hard. How do you find balance?" "We don't." "Oh." I got the distinct feeling that he's waiting for the kids to grow up so he can get his wife back. Ouch.

[Um, hello? Worst Fear Personified? Hi. It's me. I'm scared to death of you! Won't you sit down next to me while we sit and hash this out?]

After spending all weekend - every waking moment from Saturday morning until Sunday evening - surrounded by family, with not a moment alone with M, I found myself anxious. I couldn't wait for a few moments alone with M to talk with him. I was anxious to get his thoughts on a few things.

While in the midst of my anxiety, I thought about how the day before I had dragged him back around to look at Buonarelli, and to go and see the painting of the musician who, when I first saw him, I wondered why his right arm was thrust down at his side and slightly behind him, with the index finger pointing downward, and how I had been anxious to ask M what he thought. So, when we walked back through the exhibit again, even though he didn't really inspect Buonarelli as I carefully as I had and his response to my inquiry about the musician was "I dunno," he showed me two sculptures that I had not seen and we looked together at a couple more that were fascinating to us both.

In the 24 hours after Buonarelli and the musician and the reception, I got to thinking about it all. About what my BIL said about his "bad" wife. About how it is you go about drawing, writing, or sculpting a lover. About the physical pull I feel toward M, the mental connection, the entire universe that can exist between two people.

I've been deeply perplexed about HOW to maintain the delicate balance of a friendship in the face of the mutually binding and simultaneously seperating force that is having children.

And then I read about NieNie and her Mr. Nielson's plane crash, and though it has taken days and days for it to distill downward from my mind to my heart (blame it on the doldrums of sickness), today, I can't stop crying about it. I keep getting all discomposed at work. Even now the tears fall. See, I don't even know them. But I can tell how much they love each other.

For those of us lucky enough to be married to our best friends. . . well, we're lucky.

When I originally wrote about this in my journal and thought about bringing it here, it started as another appeal to you fine folks. For all you Haves to tell me it IS possible for two people to stay happy together forever.

But in the intervening time, I have gone to M twice, sat next to him while he diligently studied, put my head on his shoulder and implored him to "tell me everything's going to be OK".

And he does . . .

[Title quote is from "Juno"]


Kimberly said...

My instant reaction is wow...he's not exactly the best of husband's is he? Talking negatively about his wife behind her back, and sounding a bit selfish in the process.

The best times in our marriage are when we're working together. Our kids have brought us closer, but that quickly disintegrates if we don't make time for each other. Last year Neil arranged a babysitter for us each week and made date night a priority for us.

It takes two to tango, right?

Lisa said...

Great thought provoking post.

Thora said...

So I'm a really random person who just stumbled on your blog from Mormon Mommy Blogs, but this got me to thinking, so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

I've been married for three and a half years, and my husband and I have two girls. To me a large part of staying happy together and having balance is to both work together for it, and to both remember that our marriage is more important than our children.

We do this by making sure to actually talk to each other every day, or two. I don't mean just making conversation, but really sharing what we're struggling with, impressions of others' are, how we're feeling about life, etc. (this usually happens late at night in bed before sleeping, when we're alone). It's also about continued courting. A huge part is continuing to be spiritual together; reading scriptures, praying, talking about the gospel. Among other lots of good results from this, we are on the same page and are in positive mindsets toward each other and life.

Like Kimberly said, having children has brought us closer, and also deepened our marriage, as well as individuals. But without connecting as a couple, having children also makes it easier to fall apart.

I know that all of this is easier to say and believe in than do constantly for the rest of your life.

Every time that I hear or read about an unstable or rocky marriage, I get really worried that somehow my marriage will become that, and my husband has to comfort and promise me that it won't - like you.

Trina said...

when we were prego w/ #2 we had to do counseling for communication issues (u & i discussed this before). B informs me the other day as we were reminiscing that had it not been for #1 he would not have had the strength to go and try & would've given up. i informed him that i was regretfully ready to call it quits if we didn't get straight. now that we have had friend after friend divorce we have tried to get them to do counseling 1st cuz it saved us and now we can tell each other everyday that everything will be ok. i also agree with kimberly- he should not have said that about his wife to other ppl. that screams desperation for change but it should be btwn them.

hayngrl101 said...

I agree with all the comments so far... kids do bring you closer, but at the same time it also makes it so that both parties have to work harder, in tandem, to nourish the hub-wife relationship.

BIL sharing his honest feelings about his 'bad' wife speaks a lot of him. I wonder if he has shared his critique with her directly?

My first thought of this was that- hmm, I think I've heard the same from my dh. Second, well. WHERE is she now? With the kids? And WHY is HE not helping out to lighten her load?

Honestly, speaking from a 'bad' wife's perspective, the hardest thing to do is to be a good wife when you are doing all the cooking, cleaning, tending the kids, (and for me working)... and not getting the requisite daily dose of conversation from the hub. I mean, they (men) don't need as much conversation as we do, do they? When hub doesn't connect with me on a verbal level (and I'm not talking about trying to carry a conversation while he is surfing the net or watchin tv) I find myself less willing to "giveth" and connect with him.

And Kimberly, your Neil is a good guy. Arranging a sitter EACH WEEK so you could escape... just the effort of making those plans speaks volumes. Luckyyy!! (channeling Napolean Dynamite inflection).

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