Marriage, Change, and The Moon

I am not a constant. You are not a constant. And so none of our relationships will be constant. Our friendships, our marriages, they will all fluctuate and change just as we fluctuate and change.

And we do all change. People are not constants.

Last night I had a dream about a couple I barely know, a dream that they were getting divorced and were each in turn sharing that news with me.

I woke up with one thought ringing in my mind: we are not constants.

I remember a friend telling me before I got married that the person you wake up next to the day after your wedding is not the same person you married the day before. People change. Each day is new and with it we are each new as well. The person you walk down the isle with will be very different from the person you walk next to as you walk your children to their first day of college.

We change.

I used to think that people never really change because I had never seen a radically changed life, dramatic change where someone goes from being one thing to being something entirely different nearly over night. Now I know better. I still think that that kind of change is quite rare. But, I know now that people do change, and radically so, but it doesn't happen all at once. It isn't in a flash. It's like Anaïs Nin said:

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

We grow unevenly. We change slowly, first in one direction and then in another. We take a few steps forward, a few steps to the side and often a few steps back.

We may not feel the change taking place until we can look back. It is then that we see we are not the same person we were.

We are not constant. We are constantly changing, not only by growth, but by mood. The mood and climate of yesterday will inevitably be different from the mood and climate of tomorrow.

We are not constants. And so our relationships can never be constants.

This is both discouraging and deeply encouraging, isn't it? It means that if a relationship is good it won't stay as easy as it is today. But it also means that if a relationship is challenging, it also won't stay this way forever.

I have been blessed with a fairly easy marriage. We are not perfect, but we are well matched and we have gratefully been given some wonderful role models and a host of tools for communication - these things are helpful. But, despite that we have still faced difficult seasons. In fact, I would say that we have been in the midst of a difficult season, a season where connecting and finding common ground has been perhaps harder than ever. It has not been a season of conflict (we have had those in the past), but it has been a season of distance.

We have been growing in different areas. Growing in different directions. Unevenly. We have been facing different struggles and facing them largely on our own.

I keep coming back to the picture of the moon. That great orb cycling through its seasons of varying brightness. At times all consuming in its fullness and at other times hidden so deeply as to not be seen at all. And yet always moving through this cycle again and again.

It is so much like the journey we face whenever we decide to be in relationship with another ever changing human being. At times there will be distance and darkness and at other times bright fullness, but I can guarantee this, it will always be changing.

We are not constant.

Today an old friend, one who loved me well through a season when I was perhaps unworthy of such love, one who I lost touch with for many years and only recently reconnected with, celebrated 35 years of being married to her husband. I had to wonder how many dark nights and full moons has their marriage walked through?

I am blessed that the moonless days of my own marriage have all been short and quickly followed by more and more light and love, but I know quite well that there is no marriage that is exempt from those seasons of distance.

Today I find myself not wanting to take my marriage for granted. I find myself wanting to do what I can to move past this current season and move into the next. I find myself praying for my friends marriages and for my own. Praying that we too would someday celebrate 35 years of marriage and that when we do the moon would be full.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany Stedman