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There is an endless mystery to this human being you are married to, a mystery in which you never stop learning more about this person you know better than anyone else.

This person has a body—a tangible physicality that you can see and admire and embrace. It’s an exotic combination of dust and blood and skin that can be weighed and measured. They also have a soul, a spirit, a personality—a vast, intangible essence that extends way beyond whether or not they are in the room.

Sometimes when people have just met or they’ve gone out a few times, they’ll tell their friends, We’re just getting to know each other.

But you never stop getting to know each other. People who have been married for fifty years regularly turn to each other and say, So, what’d you think?

To be married is to be joined at the deepest levels of your being with someone who is both known and unknown, predictable and surprising.

These surprises can bring you together, and they can pull you apart; they can be endearing, and they can also be disorienting.

K: A number of years ago Rob wanted to move to a different part of town. A part of town where I didn’t feel safe walking around by myself. And when Rob gets an idea in his head, he doesn’t stop bringing it up—at least back then.

R: That was true.

K: But I didn’t want to move there.

R: And I did, and I kept thinking: What’s the problem? Let’s do this.

K: I was baffled that he felt so strongly about this.

That’s the maddening thing about marriage: you’re with this person who is so similar to you, from tastes to values to worldview—otherwise, you wouldn’t have married them—but then there are those moments when you wonder if they’ve lost their mind. How is it that you can be together on so many things and then all of the sudden they say something and you respond, What are you talking about?

Because of the dynamic nature of the space and the complexity of the two of you, you never stop figuring it out. This is not a cliché; this is a truth about the nature of the space between you. It’s always changing, and so you’re always adjusting, adapting, discussing, and navigating it together.

You may have the illusion that you can figure it out for good, get the right things in place, master the best methods and techniques, and then you’ll be all set—you will have arrived.

But as soon as you think you have it figured out, something will change. And you’ll need to adjust and adapt and figure it out again.