I went with a couple of girlfriends this past Saturday to see the movie, “Me Before You.” It’s one of my favorite books, and I’d heard they’d done a good job with the movie. Let me tell you – a) Yes, they did do a good job with the movie, although some character development and storylines were left wanting; b) It’s haunting me. If you’ve ever lost someone you love, you know you have those moments where you suddenly remember she’s gone, you can’t call her, you won’t ever get an email from her again telling you how many days left until Christmas, and your breath is stolen all over again, the loss as immediate as it was the very first day. I re-downloaded my copy of the sequel to “Me Before You,” knowing I needed to revisit it.
I also read a book this week by another favorite author, Emily Giffin’s “First Comes Love.” It’s haunting me too. While I was reading it, I didn’t think I really liked it much, and I definitely didn’t think I liked either of the main characters. I had a particular reaction to the sister who was the perfectionist, the one who always did everything right, who made choices based upon what others wanted her to do, rather than where her heart was leading her. She couldn’t seem to believe she was worthy, and that made her angry…with herself, with everyone around her, particularly when they didn’t seem to live by her rules, rules she’d set down for herself. I think I had a such a strong reaction, because in many ways, I could be her. No one really wants to see themselves that clearly laid out. I won’t go into all the details of the book. Suffice it to say, it’s a good summer/beach read. You won’t regret reading it.
The thing that’s sticking with me is this – she didn’t believe she really loved her husband of seven years, that they’d gotten married because she thought that’s what he wanted her to do, rather than what she really wanted to do. She’d reached a place she felt blah, overwhelmed with the responsibilities of motherhood and career, disenchanted, emotionally disengaged. That’s not at all how I feel about my marriage, but there were things I could totally relate to.
When you’ve been married a long time, you know you’re going to go through ups and downs. Spouse and I have been married almost 18 years. We have our times of living on different pages, of being more roommates than anything else – those months where 99% of our conversations are merely logistical. We get disconnected, easily irritated, or indifferent. I know from experience, when those seasons come around, it’s time for us to get away on our own for a weekend or longer, to re-engage, reconnect. I make a conscious decision to fall in love with him all over again, to really listen to him, to really look at him, to appreciate his love for me, all he does for me as well as our family, to recall all the reasons I fell in love with him to begin with. Sometimes, it takes just a day or two of this conscious decision-making to right the ship. Sometimes, it takes longer to reconnect. But I’d rather do that work than have a relationship that’s just an existence. There’s so much more to marriage than asking what he wants for dinner, if he can grab milk on the way home, who’s picking up which kid, and where to go on the summer vacation.