On Saturday Mornings, we do pancakes in my house. It’s a long standing tradition from before we had kids; even before we were married. Back when we were in college and had other roommates. We would sleep as late as we could and make up a crap ton of pancakes and just eat until we couldn’t eat anymore. Just as something that separates Monday through Friday from Saturday and Sunday. Because to my husband, weekends are sacred.
This last Pancake Day we were listening to classic rock on the radio and a song came on. American Pie, by Don McLean. My husband and I know every word. For the exact same reason. Because in our high school, a classmate sang this song during a talent show and just completely brought the house down. People were standing on their chairs. Lighters were lit (even though we weren’t allowed to have them in school.)
Every person in the audience that day will remember that performance for the rest of his or her life. We grew up in a small school. Maybe 500 in the whole school. 500 people in the whole world have that experience. And as my husband looked up and smiled a knowing smile at me, we didn’t have to say a word. We were both remembering the same thing.
There is NO Substitute for Time in a Marriage
Each person is the sum of their experiences. who they were surrounded by when the experiences happened; What happened to them and How they responded. Learning your partners most influential moments takes time. Even if you luck out and get a super open guy who tells you everything; you’re still learning about these experiences from the person who went through them. You just can’t know everything about anyone. But if you don’t even start to get to know the person until you’re already formed adults, you’re going to spend all of your time getting to know what makes the person tick and why.
I met my husband when we were 10. I still don’t know why he does half the shit he does. And some of the stuff I do know is exclusively because I knew the kid he was. He’d have never told me how it effected him that his high school friend died when he was in college. I know because I was there for it. He’d have never told me the embarrassing stories from high school and junior high. But I know how they formed who he is. I didn’t have to tell him to never mess with my hair. He heard people make fun of me for it. (And probably did too, the son of a bitch.) He knows why I’m insecure about it. He knows from a long history of experiences that my mouth moves faster than my brain and I dig myself into holes unintentionally. Knowing that makes fights resolve a shit ton faster, let me tell you.
Getting to Know Each Other is Hard; Growing into a couple that continues to compliment each other is even harder.
The one perk of meeting your spouse later in life that I do feel real jealousy for is … Well, it’s that you can afford a kick ass wedding, if I’m being honest. But the fact that you each already know who you’ll be when you’re grown up has to be a close second. That has to make things easier. You already know the grown up versions of yourself will compliment each other. The two of you compliment each other as adults.. You don’t have to struggle with the constant “You never used to do that!” because you remember all his phases. Nor do you have to suffer the “I want to change the whole plan based on my childish whims!” of a relationship in your early 20s.
I think that wishy washy-ness that everyone goes through when they’re learning who they are as a person is what tears most high school sweethearts apart. When you’re trying to find yourself you must reconcile “I like you for who you are… but I have no interest in being married to an out of work actor” with “I just want to follow my dreams, not worry about pulling my own financial weight” and that makes you face the reality of your compatibility.
But the struggle makes you stronger.
If you’re lucky enough, each crazy version of you is compatible with each crazy version of your forever person. Like, my “Ok, let me be a teacher” phase complimented his “I wanna open a gaming shop!” and my “I’m gonna just play video games all night” phase complimented his “I’m gonna need a Designated Driver” phase. Or, if we’re being completely honest, at least they’re compatible enough that you can bear with each other until you get to a resting state. If, once you’re both settled, you’re a match? There’s nothing that can tear you apart. (Ha. That calls for a nice sarcastic #blessed)
We’re ALL Always Changing.
I don’t mean to suggest that only couples who have grown up together will struggle with personalities changing and growing as people. We don’t stay stagnant. But, for the most part, those big life changing personality switches happen earlier in life. Later on there will be more changes to who we are. I’m pretty excited about that midlife crisis looming. So much so that yesterday I told a stranger in the grocery store that I was just going to be happy if my husband didn’t end up doing hookers and blow for his. (This is why I can’t make friends.)
I look back on when I thought I knew everything about our marriage and laugh.
Years ago I thought I knew everything about marriage. Of course I was wrong. There is no “knowing everything.” What I “know” about marriage now will inevitably be irrelevant in a few years time. Just as what I knew then was incredibly naive, I know I’ll look back when one of us goes through our “midlife crisis” and think what a naive child I was for thinking the way I do now.
But he’ll have been with me through it all. He’ll have thought similarly, evolved similarly and the struggle will not be our first. We’re uniquely prepared for the struggles to come.
And I remember his freaky facial just as well as he remembers my disaster fashion. And we have pictures. If nothing else, mutual blackmail will keep us together forever.