While I’m out honeymooning it up, I thought I would keep the entertainment headed your way with some pretty fabulous guest posters. Wahhoo!
Today, the lovely Meg, of A Practical Wedding, is chiming in on what makes her relationship work, and how to keep it a lasting one. How to dig through the day to day in order to find the “us-ness” in it all. Thank you for taking time out of your crazy-busy schedule to give some fabulous advice. We are all better for it.
I sat down to write a guest post to run on Lauren’s honeymoon, and I suddenly realized I’d agreed to write a story about my honeymoon or a vacation. Well, sh*t. Here is the thing: I don’t write about our vacations (and most certainly our honeymoon) ever. Particularly on the internet. Way to read the fine print Meg. Awesome. Which means, I suppose, this post will be about the other topic Lauren suggested to me: relationship advice. Or in short, I will tell you why I don’t write about our vacations.
After two years of marriage, and seven years in a committed relationship with the same person, I’ve found that life has a way of getting in the way of our us-ness. Often, I often feel like life is literally hanging out between us. Sitting on the couch with us, cc’ed on our emails, listening in our gchat. It is everywhere, all the time. Life is the million small things pressed into the big picture: it’s to-do lists, job applications, papers that need to be written, books that are due, businesses that need to be run. It’s finances that need to be juggled, vacations that need to be planned, parents that need to be cared for, dinner that needs to be cooked, and social calendars that need to be kept. It’s easy for our time together to be full of inquires, “Did you…” “Wouldn’t you…” “You didn’t…” “Have you…” It’s easy for discussions to center around what happened that day at work, and what needs to happen the next day at work, and groceries that need to be bought, not who we are and what we’re thinking and what we just read.
And the funny thing is: we’re only sort of together because we’re a good team. We’re also together because we really like each other, and in the whirl of day to day, sometimes that gets a little bit lost. So, after seven happy years with one person (A seven year itch joke goes here!) I have to tips for you. While they are not rocket science, they’ve taken me awhile to figure out, so please nod kindly at me.
Laugh. Our day to day break is cracking each other up. That’s it. That’s all. A year ago, Anna wrote on APW, “In our marriage, laughter is vitally important. I am pretty much happiest when Daniel and I are laughing together. I feel about laughter’s role in our marriage the same way that some people feel about sex (I also feel this way about sex, don’t worry): If we aren’t laughing, something is wrong. If days go by and one of us hasn’t made the other emit a belly laugh then I know that we might need a check-in, just to see what is up.” That’s exactly how I feel about the subject. Part of why David and I are together is because we think the other person is the funniest person in the universe. We make inappropriate jokes. We tell absurd stories (ask me about Ralph the Corporate Seal one day). Maybe it’s our shared theatre training, but we always, “Yes, and…” each other, like good improv participants. And those moments of the day when we’re laughing are like miniature vacations. We’re really connecting with each other. We’re fully paying attention, not staring at our screens, or wondering what we have to do next. We’re sitting there, laughing, thinking, “I married the best person in the world.” We need that at least once a day. And that brings me to…
Unplugged and Private Vacations. Over the last few years, we discovered that the way for us to sanely make it through high stress work environments (law school, investment banks, self employment), not to mention an internet-fueled public writing career, was to totally unplug at least once a year. So just as the San Francisco summer fog is getting unbearable, we go somewhere (Italy or a local campground, the details hardly matter) and we unplug. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, laptops, all out the window. What happens on vacation stays on vacation (no matter how funny that one-liner was, and how much we want to share it). And what happens is remarkable. It’s less that we unplug from computers, and more that we plug into each other. We experience the world differently. We make memories, eat strange food, have horrible mishaps, get in fights, and notice odd things in our environment: all together, all privately. We don’t have to-do lists. We lounge around, read books, sleep late. We keep building a life together, just like we promised to do on our wedding day. It means that five years later, I can still turn to David and say, “Remember that strange fight that couple had in the Indian Place on Notting Hill Road?” and he’ll nod and say, “Yes!” And just like that, I’m reminded of what a long and amazing trip it’s been.
When I got back from my honeymoon, I cried. It had been two of the best weeks of my life, intensively hanging out with my favorite person, and I was afraid I was never going to have anything like it again. The truth of the matter is that I probably won’t: honeymoons are special. But I have something better: a story of togetherness, winding from laugh to laugh, from private vacation to private vacation.
So Lauren, I hope you’re unplugged somewhere, blissing out. May you remember to do nothing with Kamel often, over many many long, adventurous, and happy years. Here is to the two of you!