When we set the GPS in our driveway, it says six hours (on the dot) to Jim's mama's. It takes more like seven-and-a-half with the little kids; each travels well but has a squirrel bladder. We stumble road-weary into Jim's mama's trailer, and there's no vacation element to our visits, these days. Sometimes I take the kids out for awhile, but--having gotten up with Jim's mama in the middle of the night--I do it tired and because the kids are climbing the walls, getting on each other's nerves and everyone else's, too. I wonder about Jim and his mama the whole time we're out...not because he's incapable, but because (given that he's working remotely) he's busy, distracted. Also because at her current level of need, things can become awkward pretty quickly even for me, and I'm of her gender and not of her blood.
We returned home from Mother's Day weekend Tuesday evening, and I've been wrong ever since. I thought just exhaustion, at first, but then my throat went sore. This was days ago, but last night, I woke from a dead sleep for the sidewalk-scraped pain in my throat. I have a hacking cough, a runny nose, watery eyes. Clementine shares my cold, I think; I listened to her sneeze a dozen times in a row, this morning, from the spot we shared on the sofa.
So I've struggled, lately, in thinking of a positive something to share, but here it is, a happy announcement: things are well between Jim and me. If you knew us, really knew us, you'd know it hasn't always been well between us; in fact, at the outset of this crisis with his mama, things got as bad as they've ever gotten. At some recent point, though, we realized: this moment in time really matters. How we handle it matters.
We've been motivated, lately, to treat one another with extra kindness. I value the sentiment of the Golden Rule but understand that--if I know how Jim would have something "done unto" him--there's more kindness in going that route than the one I would choose personally, if roles were reversed. He's reached a similar understanding; I can tell. Truth is: Jim and I differ in so many ways, and after almost seven years of marriage, we're just starting to understand how to bless and help one another.
Our small group participated recently in a DVD study called Sacred Marriage. Have you heard of it? I got a lot out of it, but my very favorite moment was the one in which Gary Thomas said it takes seven to ten years for a couple to learn to live together. It's tragic, he said: oftentimes two people are just on the brink of figuring things out when they call it quits. And truth be told, up to that point I'd been a little angsty about the approach of Jim's and my seventh wedding anniversary. My first husband and I split up after about six-and-a-half years of marriage. I've heard the phrases seven-year ache and seven-year itch all my life.
Gary Thomas's words filled me with hope, and I've been watching ever since for evidence that Jim and I are just on the brink of figuring things out. It's there. Over the past few days, I've found it in the way he's handled this summer cold of mine. I could go into the details but won't; what's important is that he's learned what I like when I'm sick (very different from what he likes, when he's sick) and done his best to please me. I keep thinking: what if this is it? What if we're on the brink? What if we've fallen over the very edge? What if it's happily ever after from here on out? And I guess there's no point in expecting anything less.