Today, my family loaded up for the weekly trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We literally have to go over the river and through the woods to get there.
As we were on our way home, we passed a junkyard: a.k.a. car cemetery. I looked over and saw an old SUV covered in rust with no tires, no doors, and grass growing around the edges and thought, “you know, at one time, that car was the excitement of someone’s life.” Figuring this would be an interesting topic of conversation with my husband, I repeated out loud what my head was thinking. “You know, honey, those cars, at one time, were bright shiny and new. They had a new car smell, and somebody thought it was the best thing in this world to be the owner of that car.” Then, it dawned on me, and I could not resist, “kind of like marriage, huh?” We both laughed out loud.
We continued along this line of conversation for a while, and this was my conclusion. Yes. All of those cars in the graveyard were once the most prized possession of someone: just like the beginning of marriage. You get in your new car, take a deep breath and smile a bit. You settle into the seat, making slight adjustments to the mirrors, and then you commence to pushing all the buttons to see what happens. Just like the beginning of marriage. Then, you take it for a spin. You start out slow to get the hang of the steering wheel and gas peddle, but after a bit, you decide you need to, “see what this baby can do”. Just like the beginning of marriage.
After you have gotten yourself comfortable with the way the car handles, you tend to push your luck a bit. You take a curve a bit faster than before putting yourself in danger. You get a little closer to the stop sign before you put on breaks. How is this like marriage? Well, once you are comfortable, you start to test your capabilities as a spouse. After that first “wreck”, you start to realize you can either keep on driving this way, or you can lean back a bit and enjoy the ride.
So, 5 years later, you have had this same car. No longer does that new car smell surround you. No longer do you have to seek out the radio buttons or windshield wiper switch. You instinctively know where these things are located. You know the speed the car rides the best at, and you know how to handle the steering. It has become part of you. The new has worn off, but you still love or hate the comfort of your broken in car.
The life of a car can take many roads, but the 2 most taken are these: kept so well it becomes an antique that most people envy or a bucket of rust on a patch of earth that is forgotten. These are the two most common outcomes for marriage as well. It is either one of those marriages people look to as what they desire for themselves, or, it becomes a marriage of resentment, or worst yet, indifference. Either way, the marriage is, in essence, dead.
As we began to talk about these ideas, Steve and I realized the only way a marriage can become an “antique” is with a lot of love, a lot of work, a lot of care, and a lot of dedication. I certainly hope we can remember this the next time our marriage needs a new alternator. 🙂