Couples Therapy

Marriage is like trying to write a novel. This could be said about life, raising children, etc.— but for the purposes of this post, I am only talking about marriage. I have been married for six years, so, yes, I got married very young. We have a solid partnership. We like each other a lot. Of course, we love each other a lot too, but liking him is often more valuable than loving him because it means we laugh together and we connect. We were watching a movie yesterday. We usually try to do that on the weekend when Sam is napping because by the time he falls asleep, we too, are pretty beat.

It was one of those indie-comedies where you always feel like, at any minute, someone is going to die. The plot centers around two brothers, one whose marriage is falling apart, the other whose world has fallen apart and he needs it to be redeemed. Overall, the movie was only a B, but there was a moment where the wife of the first brother says, “We’ve just gotten so off track, what’s any of this even for?” My overwrought writer brain grabbed a hold of that.

Many people get married because of passion, or the chemical thing called love. They get married because of a baby, or the fear of loneliness. Some marry merely because others around them are, and it seems the natural progression to their life. I’ve seen those marriages, they’re rocky. I’m not saying they won’t eventually level out, but they are always in a tenuous state. Marriages that start out like mine can end up destroyed, too, lost to the roaming world. Because marriage is like writing a novel.

Many writers start out really strong, with a clear reason for what they’re doing, an idea defined. The writer then sets off on the winding road to the end, and they lose their way. They forget what they started writing this for, what the goal and motivation of the protagonist is, and they end up very far away from where they wanted to be. They digress then — this can last for weeks, years, or forever. When it is the latter, a sort of divorce happens. They give up the project, not quite able to pinpoint where the love was lost, but losing it nonetheless.

I do this sometimes even when I’m blogging. I begin a post because I have a spark of an idea, and then in the writing, or because I’m distracted by other life factors, I forget the thesis statement of my post. And I’m then staring at the computer scratching my head and wondering, What the hell was I trying to do there? Like that character said, I’ve gotten off track somewhere.

Most marriages, even the train wrecks, are worth saving. Not every novel is. Or not every novel is in the state that it begins. It will need a new life, a slice with a red pen, and a diligence to finish. In this way, marriage and writing a novel are the same. The challenge is always in finding your way back to the heart, to the reason you began this journey in the first place. All of us are susceptible to getting off track, that is human nature — following rabbits down holes thinking it will lead to a better road — and all of us are capable of finding our way again.

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