Friday, 9 May 2014

Five Years of Marriage

He snores, which wakes me up. I toss and turn, which wakes him up. Housework bores me, and I resent that it eats into my writing time; he hates an untidy house and tidies noisily, slamming cupboard doors.

He loves to chat his way through problems; I need silence. He is used to being the leader of expeditions; I spend the first three days of our Continental holidays in a very bad, irrationally nasty, mood.

He does most of the cooking. I do most of the laundry. He puts off taking out the garbage. I put off washing the kitchen floor. Oh, Lord. I really must wash the kitchen floor.

We both gained weight. (That said, I have recently lost it all.) He clears his throat one thousand times a day. I have a mood disorder. ("Did you take your pill?" "Arrrghhhhhh! I forgot.") He almost never finds stuff I lose, and I lose stuff all the time. (I even lost my wallet on the way to the airport to Poland.) He is nice to books; I am... improving!

He is a much-valued member of my parish, and when he can't get to the 11:30 Mass, his tenor is much missed. I still survey my ruined theological career and wonder what is the earthly use of a Roman Catholic M.Div. degree to a laywoman--a trad laywoman at that--in Scotland. He complains if I spend too much time studying Polish; I dream of finishing my theology PhD at the Jagiellonian.

He has got a good job right here with fantastic benefits, which I share. I return from trips to Canada and Poland, having enjoyed speaking engagements or interviews or book launches, and marvel, "Here I am a total unknown." But it feels so good to hand B.A. a royalty cheque or an honorarium. He gives me so much, it's fantastic when I can give him something I earned myself.

God decided not to bless us with children. B.A. is sorry that I am sad about it, but he seems very sanguine. What the head doesn't know, the heart doesn't sigh for, I think. He thinks I feel the way I do because I am a woman and women are like this. I wonder if he would think that if he hadn't been an only child or had been brought up Catholic. This, of course, can lead to a convert vs cradle debate; at dinner parties I am usually outnumbered by protesting ex-Anglican converts and appeal to any Poles, my natural fellow cradle Catholic allies.

But as God has decided to bless us with a lot of friends instead, we have agreed to blur the lines between home and church. Domestic Church means that if young parishioners or friends are in trouble, they can stay with us. Domestic Church means Sunday Lunches for the choir, servers and their principal fans. Domestic Church means a rather stringent Lent but a blow-out Christmas Eve (Wigilia) supper. Domestic Church means B.A. saying he will go to bed at midnight whether or not the rest of the Schola has left, and me shutting the door behind the Schola after 1 AM, bless their little hearts.

And it is all great fun. I never thought I would describe marriage as fun, but I must say that the past five years have been fun. I think this may be because we had already grown up and learned from our faults and failings and had done a lot of hard work to become the people God wanted us to become. We already knew, when we met, aged 36 and 37, that a person is responsible for his or her own happiness. We already knew that we can't have all the great material things in life--we have to choose what is most important to us, and stick with that. Like my Scottish-Canadian grandparents, we choose travel. Unique to ourselves, we also choose dinner parties. Our money goes on dinner parties and travel. And my Polish classes. Must...have...Polish...classes.

Travel may sound trivial, but it means seeing my family in Canada, my work in Poland, and B.A. getting away from the Historical House--which is his work as well as his home--at least once, but preferably twice, a year. Although, inexplicably, I am an utter witch for the first three days of our Italian holidays, I am adamant: Whatever it takes, B.A. must go to the beach.

I will never be a fashion queen. B.A. is unlikely ever to have a state-of-the-art entertainment system. Pedigree pets will be out, even if we do ever buy a home we could put one in. As Catholics, we didn't even have to decide to forgo expensive, immoral, dangerous and over-hyped IVF. Our current circumstances make fostering and adoption out of the question.

We don't run a car. We ride buses with the poor and the "socially excluded", which is PC jargon for demoralized ethnic Scots and Irish-Scots crushed by the collapse of Scottish industry, the erosion of both Scottish Christianity and, its alternative, the Scottish Communist Party, and the rise of heroin and drunken grrrl power. Trainspotting makes for a great read, but for a really lousy bus ride. Cars are the tanks of the so-called upper- and middle-classes, protecting us from Begbie. And we don't have one.

That said, I'd rather take the Rough Bus with B.A. than a limousine with anyone else, and I imagine that only great love of and loyalty to her husband gets Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge through her day. Personally, I could not imagine being married to young balding William, but Her Royal Highness could probably not imagine being married to middle-aged bearded B.A. And, really, marriage comes down to a concrete relationship a concrete person and all the people and circumstances he or she comes with. Of all my friends' husbands, there's only one that I might have had a crush on: the super-cute lawyer. Can I say that? No, but seriously. And his wife is my very best married friend, so I can say that. They are both extremely good-looking, by the way. If I were a guy, I would have had a crush on her. Okay, I'm going to stop taking about this now.

Anyway, what I am trying to say, keeping in mind that this is a blog for Singles, is that marriage is about two concrete people in concrete circumstances, in a world still suffering from the effects of Original Sin and yet blessed with the Incarnation and the sacraments that stem from the Incarnation. Marriage can be a terrible, fiery experience, especially between immature or foolish people who are not rooted in reality. But it can be a wonderful way of life, especially for older people who are delighted to have found such an amazing spouse despite years of flailing about in a social or spiritual wilderness.

Again, I am sorry we have not had children, and the top of our wedding cake--saved for the baptism of our firstborn--will never be eaten. But I am comforted that this is not because of any personal sin, even neglect of health, but merely because God willed it so. Some women are able to conceive at 37, 39, 40, 42; I was not. But we are given other opportunities to fulfill the fatherhood and motherhood to which every adult is called.

So I can say with all my heart that this is a very happy fifth wedding anniversary for me, and I wish B.A. a very happy fifth wedding anniversary, too. I am sorry for all the tossing and turning this morning, and maybe the next time we go to Italy, I should go a day or two before you.

Update: Thanks to the Aged Ps for the walnut shoe rack! They are terribly good about wedding anniversaries, following the traditional list (although substituting crystal for leather) with enthusiasm.

Update 2: And I am remembering in a special way A., a young (to me) divorced Polish woman who spoke to me at the Brave Women conference, and her son L. The burden of a chaste divorced woman who at least sometimes misses her husband is a heavy one. Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine and wife of abusive Patricius, pray for them and for us all.

26 comments:

Katerina said...

Happy Anniversary! Congratulations to you and B.A. :)

Catherine said...

Happy Anniversary! I love how real this post is. It makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing by not settling for someone I don't love enough. Enough to put up with his annoying habits, that is.

Anne said...

What a nice looking couple! I watched the whole thing unfold (via blog of course). Happy Anniversary!

MichelleMarie said...

Aww. Thank you for sharing that with us! I wish you many more years of fun together!

Claire said...

Happy anniversary! This is a sweet post. ( and it's also my birthday today! Double the reason to eat cake) Many more years of happy married life to you both :)

Stellamaris said...

Happy anniversary!

c'est la vie said...

Congratulations to you both :)

Holly Gerardi said...

Happy, happy anniversary to you! May you have many more!

Julia said...

Happy anniversary to you and B.A., and now is as good a time as any to thank you for writing this blog. You write things that my mother never told me, and probably never will, and you've certainly helped to keep me 'rooted in reality'.

Case in point - tonight. Tonight I was at an event also attended by a man who, at a previous event earlier in the year, showed promising signs of interest in me. He's a practicing Catholic, intelligent, funny, good-looking, and I liked being around him. And of course, since I so rarely meet men who check all those boxes (and he seemed interested in me too!), I let myself get my hopes up. Prior to tonight's event, which I knew he would be attending, I told my myself (based on your blog post advice) that if he didn't come up to talk to me, I'd force myself to forget about him immediately.

You can guess where this is going. I didn't approach him, and he didn't approach me, although I'm nearly certain he spotted me. So basically, he's not interested. Now I know for sure. Sigh.

I knew I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. I knew that was dumb. I'm not heartbroken or anything, but I do feel a bit disappointed and stupid. But not as stupid as I would feel if I'd told everyone about 'this guy I met' or had spent time pursuing him.

Oh well. Another one bites the dust. D'oh.

Domestic Diva said...

I began reading just after you got engaged, and what a joy it's been. I am so, so grateful to have your perspective on single life - remembering well the very real struggles yet having the perspective I hope to have one day…the perspective of a mature, happily married woman.

Happy anniversary, dear Seraphic & BA! Thank you for your ministry, and God bless you & your marriage abundantly.

Emily W said...

Very Happy Anniversary Seraphic! You make a beautiful couple. Thanks for all your words of wisdom, they are so helpful. God bless.

Shiraz said...

Happy anniversary! I hope you have cake! And many more years of shared love together. Also, cake.

Alicja said...

Dorothy, wszystkiego dobrego dla Ciebie i Twoje męża! Dziękuję za Wasze świadectwo. Cieszę się, że mogłam w końcu zobaczyć zdjęcie twojego męża - jest niemal identyczny z Jego portretem, który narysowałaś mi w niedzielę wieczorem w "Kolanko";).

Magdalena said...

May God bless you now and in the many years that will come! Is it really already more than five years that I "know" you (via the blog, of course)? I started reading when you came to Scotland the first time, because I had been there on holiday myself and liked how you described it. And then I stayed here. Thank you for keeping me (and others) sane through all those years!

Gregaria said...

Happy Anniversary! And that's a very nice picture of the both of you. :)

Leah said...

Happy Anniversary!!

Anonymous said...

Happy anniversary! I'm trying to figure out how long I've been reading your blog for... when did you live in Boston, 2006? So about 8 years...

:)


Silent Jen

Anonymous said...

Dear Dorothy
happy anniversary! You are wonderful couple :) I wish to both of you all the best in happiness and health :) thanks to remembering me in a special way. You are also in my heart :)

Mary said...

Oh this is such a beautiful photo!! Brought tears to my eyes! Happy anniversary to you both!! May God continue to abundantly bless your love, which blesses so many others.

PolishTraveler said...

Happy anniversary! Wishing you many more years together in happiness :)

Lisette said...

What a lovely post! Happy Anniversary! I really enjoy reading your blog and it has gotten me through some rough spots and given me strength to stay close to the teaching of the Church. Thank you for your spiritual motherhood. Your guidance and example is much appreciated.

Nzie said...

Happy anniversary! I loved reading this post, both for the style and the content.

MaryJane said...

I've been reading since the pre-B.A. days in Boston and it's really, really lovely to know your story! This is one of the best things I've ever read on marriage, honestly: it's both realistic and cheerful. Thank you!

AnnaMarie said...

Happy (belated) Anniversary!! that picture is adorable of you two! It's the first time I've seen a picture of B.A....you look perfect together!

Mira said...

Congratulations and happy anniversary to you and your husband!

May you have many more years together!

Anonymous said...

All the best for both of you. Nice written post:).
ANia A.