Why I’m still married.

I’ve been reading a book called Why I’m Still Married, which is full of essays women have written about marriage. In almost every one, I can find something that I relate to, something that echoes my own relationship. It reminds me of how universal our struggles are, that people have been there before, and their examples give me courage.

I am interested in reading about marriage, because I like people’s stories. And I realized, while reading this book, that I would like to gather the women who are important to me and get them to tell me why they are still married. “By the grace of God,” most of them would say, and I would lean in and say, “But why? How?” Everyone’s story would be different, everyone would say that they work things out in different ways. We’d hear about laughter and children and tears and vacations and mornings in bed and time in the kitchen and late night walks – all those moments of grace that make it worth it, even in the darkest times. And if we met again in five years, their reasons would be different yet again.

I’ve been married almost six years, and there was a point last year where I thought, “We are finally starting to get the hang of this thing.” I could tell you some reasons why we are still married: that Mike has learned to say, “We’ll figure it out together,” instead of, “It’s going to be okay,” when I cry, that he makes me laugh even when I don’t want to, that his strength and compassion continue to grow, that he teaches me to be more patient and forgiving.

Today, though, the reason I think I am still married comes from a story that Mike told me last night. He had to go to a play for one of his classes, which meant that he didn’t get home until almost 11:00. In one of his earlier classes, several people were making announcements, and someone announced the play, and someone announced a meeting, and when the teacher asked if there were any other announcements, Mike said, “Yes, I am going to the play tonight, and if any of you find out what the figure skating results are and tell me, I’ll kill you.” Mike and I are still married (and I think we might be able to make it) because he cares about the things that are important to me, and I try to care about the things that are important to him. From silly things like figure skating and music and books on up to listening to each other’s hurts and fears. Mike, in all his passion for life, has embraced me, and with me he’s embraced my favorite basketball team and my love for Italian food and the chick flicks I watch and the novels I read when I’m upset. He’s embraced the way I can’t keep a desk clean, the way I hate to vacuum, the way I fold his t-shirts. He makes me feel valued and important. I could list a million different reasons why we are still married, but today the reason is simply that he pays attention to the things that are important to me so that I can be myself. I feel really lucky to have found that.

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  1. Shelby

    Thanks for writing this. You are an old pro compared to me at this marriage thing! I know I am learning so much more than I ever thought I would.

    Posted 2/24/2006 at | Permalink
  2. Thank you for writing this. Even though I’m probably the closest thing to a permanent bachelor there is, I find encouragement and strength when I read things like this.

    Posted 2/24/2006 at | Permalink
  3. *takes down notes*

    Posted 2/24/2006 at | Permalink
  4. I’m with Steve. It’s also dusty in my office.

    Posted 2/27/2006 at | Permalink
  5. Hey Kari, I’m one of the editors of WHY I’M STILL MARRIED and I just wanted to write and say I’m so glad you are finding the book is meaningful. Love your idea of gathering your friends together for an open exchange about marriage, and love your reasons for staying married.

    Best wishes to you and Mike,

    Posted 3/7/2006 at | Permalink
  6. STX

    I wish my wife would read this book. I’ll bringing it home tomorrow, since she recently served me with divorce papers (right after Father’s Day), but has agreed to marriage counseling (though I don’t believe she’s taking it seriously) after two kids (5 & 7) and almost 21 years of marriage. My heart aches to return to happier times, but it often feels as if they’re a distant memory. We no longer kiss, or hold hands, or even sleep in the same bed (all her choice). I wish I had answers to our problems.

    Posted 9/9/2008 at | Permalink

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