High Fidelity, Part 2

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Yesterday morning, I sat nursing Nicholas by the window as usual, when I heard the squawk down the hall. “Christian, Julianna’s awake,” I said.

“Okay,” he answered. He finished shaving and went into her room as he does most mornings. And, like most mornings, their voices floated back to me. “Good morning, Julianna! How are you today?”

“Euh!”

“Uh-oh, should I tickle Julianna? Tickle tickle tickle!”

Squeal, giggle, giggle, squeal! Hysterical giggle!

“Should I tickle Julianna some more?”

“Euh!”

“Tickle tickle tickle!” Squeal, giggle, giggle.

And, like most mornings, I sat stroking Nicholas’s back, kissing his hand, smiling as I listened to the exchange. How can I not? Her enchanting laugh makes me smile throughout the day no matter how foul my mood. And there is no moment in marriage so beautiful as seeing your beloved take such joy in the children you have created together, in partnership with God.

And that was when realization struck.

I’ve spent a lot of the last week pondering the subject of marriage. Thinking about the way a marriage changes, and the danger of dissociation. Thinking about how many people responded to that post, via comments and private emails, and realizing how important this issue is to so many people.

But I was wrong. I’ve been looking at the whole topic from the wrong perspective.

“One cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are continually flowing in,” said Heraclitus. It’s not about trying to hold on to what we had as newlyweds, because we are no longer those people. Life has changed us. Infertility. Grief, and rebirth. New insights.

No, it’s about discovering new ways—and more importantly, new reasons­—to love each other.

Like the way Christian gets Julianna out of bed in the morning.

Or the way he makes his fingers into tickle puppets at the dinner table, instantaneously reducing all three children to hysterics.

Or the way he does voices when reading books to them.

Trying to separate my children’s father from my husband is counterproductive at best; unfair at worst. Here, at this season of our life together, we are the parents of young children. To pretend otherwise, even for a few minutes, belittles all that we hold dear. In a few years, we’ll be different people yet—homework helpers and bleacher cheerers. And ten years after that, we’ll have the house to ourselves (hopefully), and our task will be to find new ways and reasons to love each other in the quiet.

Marriage isn’t about staying connected to what brought us together. It’s about staying connected where we are now.