This past week, I went on vacation with myself. Notice I say “with myself” and not “by myself” because the point was to spend time with myself, reacquaint me to myself, and listen to the sound of my own mind.
In the flurry of holidays, our 26th anniversary quietly slipped by. It’s no great milestone, but anniversaries always get me pensive: who were those young, dumb kids who tied the knot all those years ago?
What did we know? We didn’t understand life. We didn’t understand each other. We barely understood ourselves.
We committed to one another based on shared values and mutual goals. Not a bad way to make a big decision like marriage. But I think we had no clue how different we were.
I love adventure. I love to travel, to try new things. I’ve gone skydiving. My plan for our anniversary trip was trimmed down from Australia to Italy. My husband, however, is a homebody. He thinks Chicago is a nice adventure (crossing state lines and all). He is so freaked by skydiving that he couldn’t even bear to come along and watch.
You may have noticed that I live life out loud. If you are a regular reader here, you know a lot about me. A lot more than I know about you – which is sometimes weird when strangers tell me they read my column and I frantically calculate which of my secrets they know. I’m vocal on social media and I have lots of friends. My husband is a private guy (but because he’s nice, he okayed me writing about him). He never posts on his social media and is not quite sure what motivates me in this openness.
I’m loud and flowery. I like colors and scarves and jewelry and hats and fun shoes. He wears a rabbi suit every single day.
I’m a visual learner; he’s an audio guy. I like dairy; he likes meat. I like independence; he likes conformity.
I prefer to think, talk, delegate and strategize. He rolls up his sleeves and gets the job done. I’m good with words while he’s good with deeds. I like plans and schedules and he likes to leave his options open. I purge; he saves. I like to handle things right away, but he appreciates thinking things over.
So while we married based on sameness, we were clueless about the sheer differentness.
The irony, of course, is that it is often that which we don’t even know is good for us, that’s good for us. The balance that has been achieved in our relationship, with hard work and lots of blessing from Above, is so much better for me than sameness. The humbleness that is a byproduct of melding your life with another human being over 26 years is a prize worth fighting for. The self-awareness that arises from bumping up against Other day after day after day is worth everything.
Marry for sameness because I promise, there will be enough differentness to fill a book. Hopefully a good book, a yearbook, a happy book, written over five or ten or 25 or 50 years of marriage.
For now, I am serene. Who was that person 26 years ago? I can’t even remember. But the me of today, her I know. Her I know well. And for that, I have to thank my Chicago-bound rabbi-suited introverted terra-firma husband.
I’ve been engaged in a tough break up. It’s been a dysfunctional relationship for a few years already, but sometimes dysfunction is hard to sense when you’re deep in it. You get used to the craziness. You get used to constantly being available on demand all the time. You can’t even remember what life was like before. But you know it’s not good for you, and that you crave relief.
“I am saddened that the debate over Israel’s decision regarding two US congresswomen is tearing the Jewish community apart. Can we keep our eye on the ball? Israel was founded as a state as a safe oasis from anti semitism. Shall we now use debate about it to tear ourselves apart and hate on one another? Whatever your opinion, why the vitriol? Sigh. And don’t do it in the comments please. Don’t lobby. Don’t pontificate. Comments should be related to Jewish unity only – unity without uniformity.”