On Sunday we were honored to have brunch with a dear family and two sweet friends. Laughter was as abundant around our scratched farm table as was the delicious food. (Quiches and a Dutch Baby. Homemade whipped cream.) And it wasn’t just adults making adults laugh – the kids, ten in all – were engaged and charming and full of interesting talk too.
I live in such a vibrant community full of families like this. Not a week goes by that we don’t break bread and share a table with another family. Usually more than once a week. People are in and out of our home and our door is always open to the drop in visitor, the out of town friend passing through and the buddy needing a cup of tea and a porch sit.
I do not take this for granted.
After a day spent in friendly slack line competition and in engaging conversation and in quick laughter shared among families I have journeyed through life with, I sometimes spend the aftermath feeling a little ……
discontent. Alone. No. Not those words. Feeling a little Extra Aware.
Extra Aware — aware of what my life lacks. But not in a feel-sorry-for-myself way. Not really. More in a this-is-where-I-am-right-now way.
I look at these dear and beautiful families. Families with a mother and a father and years of marriage tucked under their belts. Husbands who glance at their wives after they share that one story. Hands still being held. The bond I see in a daughter and her dad. The wife who rests her hand on her husband’s shoulder without a thought in the world as to how rare and lovely that level of comfort actually is.
There are times when I look at those families and I think, “Oh, I want that.”
And, of course, there are the times I am reminded, “Ah. I no longer have that.”
And I think, “I want my kids to see that.”
All of the above – I think all of the above.
To my married friends — do not read this and in turn show less affection for one another around me. Do not read this and tone your regular self down or have dinner less often at my house or invite me over less routinely. Please don’t do that. Do not filter your lovely (and hard and regular and real and wonderful) marriage for my benefit.
Be yourself. Be your loving and happy family self. Be your frustrated and regular family self. Be tired and be outgoing. Be welcoming and be real. Just be whatever you already were.
But be it – together. Intact. As a family unit.
Your successful marriage matters to more than just the people who call you momma and daddy.
I want your marriage to work, friends. I want your marriage to thrive. It matters.
It matters because it reinforces hope. For my children. For their future marriages. And for my grandchildren.
I want my children to break the cycle they have inherited.
To rise above a statistic.
And you, my married friends, can help make that possible.
By inviting my children over and leading by example.
I have a friend who told me he has never seen a healthy marriage. Not one. I have a friend who is growing increasingly cynical about the whole idea of marriage. Her own family’s story is so dysfunctional and painful that she cannot imagine the risk being worth the pay off. I have friends whose marriages have waned and whose hearts have suffered. I have friends who are divorced and friends who have never been married.
Oddly enough, in my circle of friends the only children growing up in a “broken” home are my own.
(And that word “broken” hurts to type and I simultaneously despise and understand the word because of its accuracy to our situation.)
But I also believe broken is not a forever curse. Broken is not irredeemable. It is not unfixable. (I mean, certain situations seem unfixable. Certain circumstances will remain broken in this life. But this is not true for humans. Not true for people. They are most certainly “fixable”.)
Your marriage matters because my kids are watching you.
They are listening to how you speak to your spouse. They see how you prefer them over all others and how you support and honor and love your husband or your wife.
You get to be an example of what hope looks like for my children. An example of what Happy wears and how Healthy acts. Of what is possible for their very own futures.
Or you get to add another dose of fear, another brick in the wall. Another bad ending and bitter taste.
Yes, this sounds too heavy. (My people have thus far never been afraid of heavy, however, and we’ve all grown to realize the cost of intimate friendship is rather dear, so I am guessing this is just another wrinkle in that knowledge.)
To all my married friends, keep fighting for what you’ve got. Keep battling the horrendous statistic that says HALF of all marriages end in divorce.
Do better than that.
Offer more to your kids – and to mine too, please.