After deciding to participate I just kept muttering to myself “Why do Ryan and I work as a married couple?” over, and over, and over. I kept trying to recall that one magic moment when everything clicked and fireworks went off and I know we were just perfect for each other. Sorry to break it to you, but I don’t believe moments like that exist. No one is perfect for each other.
While I repeatedly asked myself the question, “Why do we work?” I couldn’t help but envision a well oiled factory machine with many complex parts all working together perfectly to create a flawless and productive product. This analogy may work for some couples (or maybe just in fairy tales?) but my marriage to Ryan is nothing like that.
We are two separate machines and unlike a well-engineered piece of factory equipment, our parts don’t always line up perfectly or complete each other. We don’t work because there is some magic chemistry between the two of us or because it was our destiny to end up together. We work because we work at being together. And it is hard work.
Not only are we two separate machines, but Ryan and I are often working in two separate factories miles and miles apart. Yet, with communication our two independent factories work together attempting to create a product that will please the other and create a joint profit. Somedays I will create a product with just the hopes of making Ryan’s day, while others I hope that the product I’m creating will work well with the one that he is simultaneously creating for me.
There are days when all lines of communication are down and our attempts are complete failures. We’ll end up creating two useless items. I’ll create a TV remote and he’ll create a picture frame. They are both fine and dandy, but what is a remote with out a TV and a frame with out a picture? These two items are useless alone and they will never be productive together. Failure day at the factories.
Those days are the worst, like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and they are often filled with tears, resentment, and mean words. But no matter what, you are never going to get that TV remote and that picture frame to work together. It’s best to just say goodnight and go to bed. (yes, going to bed angry “works” for us) That TV remote and picture frame will usually be gone by morning and we can get back to work at making something else.
Other days we surprise ourselves and create two separate products that are essential to one another, like a lightbulb and a lamp. You can’t have one with out the other can you? These days far outweigh the bad ones. They, like the lightbulb, ignite our love and give us hope which we use to light the way through those darker failure days. But these days take hard work.
It’s hard work fitting two different people doing two different jobs together for life. There are days when we both want to quit, that we both want to push the reset button and go back to our factory settings of default. When our machines are in default mode we always come first, we don’t have to think about another person’s needs or ideas. Ryan and I work because we don’t believe in hitting the “reset to default” button. Instead, of the “default button” we select the buttons labeled with words like respect, sympathy, kindness, and patience.
It takes work to be patient when Ryan is dead tired and as grumpy as a toddler. It takes work for Ryan to not jump to conclusions as to why I’m being quiet or distant when I just need some space. It takes work to be understanding when Ryan forgets an important date because he has 5 billion things going on inside his head. It takes work for Ryan to be kind when I forget to rinse out my dirty dishes before putting them in our inadequate dishwasher (once again). It’s the constant little acts of kindness that makes us work.
We work because at the end of the day our two separate machines have churned out a plentiful array of products. Yes, some are disasters, but others are productive and beautiful. Together the good and the bad create a beautiful work of art. To others it may look like an abstract mess, but to us it is a masterpiece. It depicts our love, our life’s work and tells our story. As with any piece of art, Ryan and I will always view it with a different perception and take away a different meaning. But by choosing to simultaneously admire and to put value in the same piece of work day in and day out; that is what makes us work.