Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Long-distance marriage

Photo by David Cea

We are in transition. Neither of us are living in our apartment this summer. We are packing suitcases or boxes and running around the state and shaking new hands.

We are each beginning our education. I am preaching on Sundays and he is presenting on Mondays. My introduction comes in backyard barbecues and small-town parades and nursing home hallways. His is an immersion into finance and spreadsheets and marketing yourself. He sleeps in a tiny sublet room.

His new friends at business school want to meet me. They wonder if I really exist. My church members often forget I’m married, or else they never knew, because he’s only been to church  with me twice.

We are not accompanying each other on trips this summer. I flew alone to a wedding in Minnesota and he will go to Miami; he has been home to his family and I will go to mine in a few weeks.

He is in a minor accident and he goes out of the country the next day and I drive back to our apartment to deal with the insurance and get the car in the body shop. He comes back from his travels and the car is still not ready and I drive out to help and we have a slumber party on sleeping bags in the living room because the bedding is already packed.

We are both busy, and we don’t begrudge each other this fact.

People raise their eyebrows when I describe it all, and they lament his absence or ask me if I miss him. “Well,” I tease, “to tell the truth it’s kinda nice.” That isn’t entirely untrue; I am a happy introvert caught up in the introspective beginning of a new journey. I am also happy that we are both encountering new life.

There is an open-heartedness that has struck me somehow this North Carolina summer, leaking deep gladness into my listening and playing and being. I feel it is leaking into marriage, too, or at least for this I pray.

This week, we both drive three hours round-trip to meet for a dinner of Vietnamese pho, to sit in a restaurant for two hours and talk. There is so much to say and listen and we look in each other’s eyes and keep talking when the waiter comes to refill the water and I think it is almost like a first date, getting to know each other again.

The intimacy beneath the conversation betrays it is not a first date. We have now what’s almost our own language. We have now seven years’ shared experiences to draw from, so that when I say a friend’s name, he feels and knows all the story in that one word; when he says “too sad,” we are both lamenting Gaza.

We have now something else, too, something remarkably strong and new: we have now the comfort and security and affirmation of nearly two years of marriage, two years of resting in the knowledge that this is how it will be, till death. I am only slightly surprised to notice this, that the last two years have blunted our sharp edges and cleared our eyes of a little debris. In retrospect, our clouded vision and sharp edges of two years ago stand in stark contrast to what we are today. I find we have been sewn together stitch by stitch. We are fitfully on our way to becoming one flesh.

This is yet another confirmation that my time has not been wasted. All this while, we have been unknowingly going about the work of marriage. I am not afraid of the next challenge.

So yes, church people, and family, and old friends and new friends, I do miss him.

But long-distance marriage this summer is kind of nice. It helps me see how much we have become and are becoming and will become.

3 comments:

  1. margarita chukhinaJuly 24, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    Wow. very nice. and so glad to hear it!

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  2. Thanks! And of course I thought of you on our date the other day. I will always think of you whenever I eat veggie pho :)

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  3. Beautifully said! We're going through a situation that is somewhat similar and it's nice to be reminded what good some time apart can do despite missing each other.

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