Over the last few weeks I’ve read several articles and blog posts about marriage not having those movie moments. Many followed along the same lines of the typical daily dose of
runny noses and minivans being the real love. They were sure to provide ‘normal’ pictures of daddy playing in the pool with the kids, family gatherings for holidays, and several of their annual Christmas cards. Some of them alluded that real love couldn’t possibly exist within the deceptive, intense movie moments and that dramatic fights ending in sex against a wall were all lies of the big screen.
One such moment, that seems to be a common theme among the naysayers, is the ever elusive passionate reunion after having been dramatically parted from their spouses. Their references were, whether on a dock, in an airport, on the tarmac, being pulled out of a medevac helicopter (you get my point), all centered around something they waited for years to happen. Finally, one day they all realized it didn’t happen like the movies, gave up hope of their magical movie moment and they settled into ‘real’ life. Because, that was what true love really was, right?
Well, I am here to give the big screen version of marriage.
I have, in fact, had all of those dramatic moments mentioned: on a dock, in an airport, on the tarmac, and driving frantically an hour away to the hospital where my husband was pulled out of a medevac helicopter, just to name a few. What the women, claiming to have
waited years for that moment, missed was that moments like those have many more dramatic and heart wrenching ones leading up to them.
I’ll take one particular memory to delve into. This, by far one of our milder moments, is easy enough to tell and make my point. My son, then only 2 years old, sitting by the door nearly every evening around the time his daddy was supposed to come home. There is no way to explain to a young boy, who adores his father, that Dad wasn’t coming home right now. He would just nod his head and repeat, “DaDa come home”. It was impossible to get him to leave the door voluntarily and I knew, nearly every night, I would hold him in my lap until he fell asleep crying for “DaDa come home”. Sometimes, I would fall asleep right there next to him on the floor. My son had been sick with the flu and on my birthday was rushed to the hospital having passed out. After a long day, a stabilized oxygen level and two IV fluid cycles in the emergency room, we went home… to a flooded house. Sometime during the day a pipe leading to the bathroom upstairs burst. Needless to say when I got my son to bed, called the emergency number on our homeowners, cleaned up, moved important items out of harm’s way and finally stepped outside to take a break – it happened – a macro moment. I looked up. I remember praying and then all of a sudden it hit me that my husband was somewhere in the Caribbean on a 285 foot landing craft as a part of the Expeditionary Forces in Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti. And. I. Lost. It. I convulsively cried for what seemed forever. I was so wound up about my own circumstances that I had forgotten to pray that day for my own husband, who was away from home serving this country and the world. Little did I know then, that day had been a particularly rough one for my husband as well.
forward a little, to when we were first informed of their return home. We all began preparations. Banners and welcome festivities finally executed, we waited. And waited and waited while their return was postponed time after time. All during which many more dramatic moments occurred. Fast forward again and picture this; a large port. Family members and other soldiers waiting to welcome home our men and women. As soon as we see them come around the bend in the river, tears start falling, kids start jumping, and banners go up. Everyone was coming home. After waiting for the ship to dock and everyone be released, I finally spot my husband and he spots me and we head for one another. It was a movie moment. It was a front-page-picture-of-USA-Today moment.
However… at the time it was anything but; it was desperation for one another, elation to have him home and be home. It was my other half, my son’s father, my protector, my lover. It was hurt and pain and love and sacrifice and fear and so many emotions rolled into that moment. It is only after, long after, that you even realized the moment it truly was.
The writers waiting for their blissful movie moment fail to realize that it came with many more discontented ones that the big screen and newspapers seldom depict. These women voiced that because it hasn’t happened to them, real love surely can only exist within those carting the kids
to soccer practice moments. As I said earlier, this was one of our mildest examples; then again so was the movie moment. My husband chose, as a young man, to serve this country in the military. He recently retired from over 22 years of service. We had many, many movie moments within those sometimes horrific and often glorious years together.
My kids always tell my husband and me that our life together should be a book or a movie. We have had many romantic movie moments as well as dramatic ones. And I know the movie moments are good. Unfortunately, many of the other macro moments wouldn’t make it in the final cut and that is truly what makes those movie moments in the end.
I want to be clear on a few points; I do believe love comes in many ways. I believe marriage is what you make of it and you can truly only change yourself. I believe that movie moments aren’t what people should aspire to have; because you sacrifice a lot to ‘have’ them. I know of successful marriages that have had those movie moments just like ours; I also know successful ones that haven’t.
My mother-in-law gave me (and my husband) a great piece of advice about marriage; “if you don’t have respect, you don’t have a marriage.” And if we are going to define a real love marriage; that’s the definition: respect. It’s not defined by if you have movie moments or not.
Find respect for your spouse. If you think your spouse is lazy, remember once that you thought he/she was even-tempered. Overly aggressive; once a go getter. Abrasive; once honest. Not serious enough; once happy. Too serious; once dedicated and loyal. When you spend your time wishing that your marriage were more like the ones you see, in the movies or out of them, over time your positives become negatives. You only see the surface of these moments other people have and you envy them without knowing the hardships that created them. I believe that marriages based in respect, whether you have the runny noses and minivans or the movie moments, should be appreciated for what they are…
9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that He has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.
-Ecclesiastes 9:9 (emphasis added)