Monday, November 23, 2009

Music Monday/Lyric Lundi

Bob's and my first year of marriage was the roughest one for me (take note, all you never-marrieds and newly-engageds). Like everything I do in life (it seems), I entered marriage completely ignorant and unprepared, riding in on romantic notions of that wonderful "honeymoon phase." Our marriage, of course, would not have a mere "phase." We would be different. We would have a honeymoon life.

How long did that last? I can still remember calling my mother one day, about two months' shy of our first anniversary, and asking, "Why does everyone act as though the first year of marriage is such bliss? How come no one told me how hard it was gonna be?" Her (wise) response was, "What difference would it have made if anyone had told you? Would you have decided not to get married?"

My initial response was "yes," but of course, the real answer was "no." After all, I had already eaten enough crow for accepting an engagement ring after swearing to anyone who would listen that I was never getting married. I didn't need to eat the beak and feet as well. I wasn't about to change my mind again.

But it was tough. Bob and I weren't exactly spring chickens when we got married. Living with others, no matter who they are (family members, friends, strangers), is not easy. Throw romantic love and sex and personal expectations when it comes to marriage into the equation, and it's really quite amazing that more spouses don't kill each other. Bob and I had both been living on our own (or, at least in my case, with roommates who had no expectations other than bills and rent checks getting paid on time and kitchen sinks free of dishes) long enough to be set in our ways and unused to compromising. In other words, we were both quite selfish (and stubborn) and quick to find fault with each other.

Up until then, I'd always been amazed by the statistics on how many marriages end before the first anniversary has even been celebrated. But each time I slammed out of the house and drove away, furiously swearing I was never going to return to someone so [fill in the blank: thoughtless? selfish? clueless? mean?], I came to understand that I could ace a test based on that particular statistic.

Ultimately, though, we obviously had whatever it is that gets couples through that rough time. We began to listen to each other. We each began to give a little more. Yes, we had a lot of moments that make me cringe now when I think of them (and I am oh-so-glad no one ever had a hidden camera in our home), but we also had fun. We made each other laugh. We understood each other. When I had something good to tell, he was always the first person I wanted to tell.

However, I understand how relationships can crumble. Nothing, it seems, has made me understand divorce better than being married. How anyone who has ever been married can judge others for getting divorced is beyond me, unless they are those who really ought to be divorced themselves, and they're bitter in their own traps. So much of it just seems to be the luck of the draw, as far as I'm concerned. I am extremely lucky that my husband did not walk out on me or into the arms of another woman (as other statistics about marriage indicate that many do) when things weren't as idyllic as we'd both expected them to be. He is extremely lucky that I always came home after driving off in a fury.

There was a song that came out during our early years of marriage. It was poignant to me in that its narrator attempted to convince his skeptical lover that they had things in common. Grasping at straws, he mentions the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's (a movie both Bob and I love). She says she thinks she remembers the film, and that they both kind of liked it. He resigns himself to saying, "Well, I guess that's the one thing we've got."

I'd listen to that song and think, "God, I don't want our relationship to fizzle away until we barely have one thing in common." Somehow, though, I knew it never would. We had so much in common. We just both needed to grow up a little and to learn how to live with another human being, flaws and all. We did.

The song is still one of my favorites. I'm pretty sure I'd love it no matter what (it's a catchy tune), but I love it all the more for those bittersweet memories of the early days of our marriage. I can listen to it now and be so proud of us for weathering those storms, for never having to search desperately for one thing "we both kinda like."

Breakfast at Tiffany's
by Deep Blue Something

You say that we've got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we're falling apart.
You say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don't care.

And I said "what about 'Breakfast at Tiffany's?'"
She said, "I think I remember the film,
And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it."
And I said, "Well, that's the one thing we've got."

I see you -- the only one who knew me
And now your eyes see through me
I guess I was wrong
So what now? It's plain to see we're over,
And I hate when things are over --
When so much is left undone.


You say that we've got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we're falling apart.
You say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don't care.



Charlotte said...

I LOVE that song, though the message is a little sad.

So glad that you and Bob have weathered those storms. Marriage is an amazing learning-ground, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that isn't your song.

Emily Barton said...

Charlotte, it's such a GREAT song, isn't it? And, yes, marriage is an amazing learning-ground, and I'm so happy we've weathered the storms, but also went through them to prove we were on solid ground.

Lilian, me too! (Our song is actually The Anniversary Song by The Cowboy Junkies.)

Bob said...

Emily, It seems as if I have a rejoinder lyric following your Monday lyric. As a divorced guy, and remarried, I feel as if I’ve been married all my life and so I identify with Steven Sondheim’s cynical view of marriage….

Little Things You Do Together

It's the little things you do together,
Do together,
Do together,
That make perfect relationships.
The hobbies you pursue together,
Savings you accrue together,
Looks you misconstrue together,
That make marriage a joy.

It's the little things you share together,
Swear together,
Wear together,
That make perfect relationships.
The concerts you enjoy together,
Neighbors you annoy together,
Children you destroy together,
That keep marriage intact.

It's not so hard to be married
When two manoeuver as one.
It's not so hard to be married,
And, Jesus Christ, is it fun!

It's sharing little winks together,
Drinks together,
Kinks together,
That make marriage a joy.
The bargains that you shop together,
Cigarettes you stop together,
Clothing that you swap together,
That make perfect relationships.

It's not talk of God and the decade ahead that
Allows you to get through the worst.
It's "I do" and "you don't" and "nobody said that"
And "who brought the subject up first?"
It's the little things,
The little things, the little things, the little things.

The little ways you try together,
Cry together,
Lie together,
That make perfect relationships.
Becoming a cliche together,
Growing old and grey together,
Withering away together,
That make marriage a joy.

It's not so hard to be married,
It's much the simplest of crimes.
It's not so hard to be married--

I've done it three or four times.

It's the people that you hate together,
Bait together,
Date together,
That make marriage a joy.
It's things like using force together,
Shouting till you're hoarse together,
Getting a divorce together,
That make perfect relationships.

Feminine Feminist said...

Awh. I love you two. What lovely, honest storytelling.

Stefanie said...

I love that song! I used to sing along to it whenever it came on the radio. And great post about your first year of marriage.

ZoesMom said...

I can relate! Our first year of marriage was rough too. Up and down. Every week we had what I came to call our "Saturday morning fight." But you get through it and then lo and behold you can't remember what it was like to not be married, but yes, with a new understanding of divorce.

Emily Barton said...

Huh, I had a comment here that didn't show up. Let's try again:

Bob, no pressure to keep doing so, but I absolutely love the way you often provide other song lyrics in response to my lyrics. And this one you've chosen is perfect.

Fem Fem, we love you, too (and I am scheming a visit to see you in 2010. First stop: Edinburgh. Second stop: Belfast).

Stef, I am quickly learning that you and I seem to have very similar tastes in music: from Fred Astaire to Deep Blue Something.

ZM, I am pretty sure we had "Saturday morning fights" too. Such a stupid waste of a weekend, no? And yes, you do forget what it was like not to be married (and even what it was like to be SO concerned over exactly whose turn it was to take out the trash or to wash that plate).