Today marks the seventh year of marriage for my wife and me. While we’ve been questioning some of our decisions over the past year, one thing we aren’t questioning is our decision to be together, side-by-side, even as things around us appear to be in mayhem.
Over the course of the last seven years, we’ve sold and bought a house, had our second child, sold the house we bought and moved country, bought another house, and are now living through one of the most challenging times of our lives, living in what can only be described as an “unsettled state” in a foreign country, trying to fix up our house and (maybe) sell it again soon after.
At least we have noodles.
Oddly enough, the health of our marriage owes a lot to a bowl of noodles. The thing that has been giving us solace and joy at the moment is sharing noodles of the most delicious kind at a Malaysian restaurant in Glasgow. Sweating together over bowls of spicy Laksa Curry and Rendang Curry, slurping udon and egg noodles, we are finding some space to laugh and share how we’ve experienced the craziness of the past year.
My thinking about my marriage and relationships is an ever-evolving thing, but I think that these passages from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke on the meaning of marriage and relationships represent a healthy and accurate way to view it:
A togetherness between two people is an impossibility, and where it seems, nevertheless, to exist, it is a narrowing, a reciprocal agreement which robs either one party or both of his fullest freedom and development. But, once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!
Rilke viewed that too often people lose themselves in a relationship, holding on too tight, and don’t recognize that each person will always have some parts of them unknown to the other.
Each needs their own space and loving this “distance” is as important to the relationship as anything else.
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
Being close together yet far enough apart is a daunting task for a healthy relationship.
We’re taking it a bowl of noodles at a time. 🍲