Wedding Graduates Return: Kimberly on Quiet Times

Wedding Graduate Returns posts are among my favorite posts that we do. Seeing how married life has developed for each of you is such a joy and such an education. And today, Kimberly reminds me that some of the most important parts of my relationship are the quietest parts, the parts in between the big things. She reminds me that the golden moments are not the rushing around, not the goal setting and goal achieving, but the sitting quietly together. And it makes sense, because Kimberly is the woman who, two days before her wedding, decided that she wasn’t going to stress about anything that wasn’t done. Instead, she “just gave it up to Jesus. I mean, WWJD, anyway? He wouldn’t stress about anyone handing out some program fans, I’ll bet you that much.” So of course this lady knows a thing or two about how to relish the calmer moments. Now, Kimberly.

This year marks the third anniversary of our marriage, and things look far different than what we’ve been used to over the past three years. Truth is, we’re pretty boring these days. Okay, yes, we spent nine weeks in South America earlier this year (which was amazing), but now that we’re back home, we’ve settled with our residency (!!!), we’re both employed (!!!), we can come and go as we please (!!!) and are—gasp—happy in our home. We have multiple types of insurance, for goodness’ sake. We’re thinking about maybe buying a house, possibly, someday. We’re thinking about maybe growing our family, possibly, someday. But for right now? Shhhhhhhh. Do you hear that? It’s quiet. Things are still.

The past decade or so, for many of us, has been a time of Big Things. Graduation has played into that theme, college, postgrad… getting out into the world on our own, defining what we want out of our baby (and not-so-baby) careers, struggling financially, learning how to protect ourselves in times of emergency, and, often, marriage. It’s so common now to have to live apart from our partners, to move between states for our partners, to move between countries with and without our partners, to deal with visas and immigration issues because of our partners (and deal with the terrifying what-ifs about whether all of the applications will be rejected). We’ve blogged and/or read blogs about the Big Things, we’ve agonized over the Big Things, we’ve made friends and bonded over the Big Things, but I’ve found that somehow, over time, the Big Things have just become things.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t underestimate the Big Things—I think they often make us put our breasts to the wall, so to speak. We often end up stronger and better off for getting through them. Nor do I think that Himself and I are done with the Big Things, not by a long shot. There was a bit of a frenzy in my head recently about not having these Big Things looming over us, because for so long, they defined our life together. We tend to think of life as being about these Big Things and the quiet moments as just filler for the times in between the important milestones. If a Big Thing isn’t happening, it must mean that nothing at all is happening, right? What’s there to talk about? What’s there to say? Truth is, it’s the “filler” that puts the Big Things in context; it’s the day-to-day “filler” that makes the stress of the Big Things bearable.

In spite of being quiet and still here, things aren’t stagnant. We still struggle with boundaries sometimes, and we continue to surprise each other—not always in good ways. Sitting on the other side of many of those struggles and surprises, though, it’s pretty amazing to see how the wheels just keep on turnin’. Can I tell you how proud I am of myself for learning how to fight effectively, and watching Himself learn how to communicate with me calmly, even when he’s angry? Of continually seeking out solutions to make our lives—and therefore, our life together—better? Of being a fixed point and support beam for our friends who are also in relationships, whether they are thriving or failing? It’s incredibly satisfying and fulfilling, and when people talk of “growing” within a relationship, I think, “Oooooohhhh, this is the growing of which they speak!” We’ve shared a lot in this space about the good years and bad years of marriage. I’m not ashamed to say that this, the year of thirty, is shaping up to be a damn good year; another strong support for the frame on which our marriage rests, one more year to hold us up when a bad year comes along, threatening to tear it all away.

So we’re good. We’re happy. I’ve got tomato plants and gardenias and a napping cat and a satisfied husband and a content soul.

Himself told me once that he wanted to live a quiet life with me. At the time, I think I smirked and made some smart-ass comment because, really? He’s not exactly the “quiet life” kind of guy. But whaddya know, I was wrong. Right now, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Photo by: Our Brazilian friend Bruna, while on the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

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  • Moe

    Awesome. I envy your quiet life and can’t wait for things to settle down. :)

  • I’m looking forward to some “filler” myself! We just moved from DC to Florida, get married in December, then will move somewhere in February, hopefully overseas (my fiance is in the Navy). I’ll be 35 when we get married, so babies will have to be sooner than later. But I’m hoping we can get some quiet filler in there somewhere. Sounds lovely.

  • Thanks for sharing your reflections on this interesting topic. I’ve also been thinking about how maybe during the “filler” times, a lot can be quietly going on, under the surface. The solidifying of some of the “big” changes, but also other changes that are hard to notice when you’re in the middle of them….like when you don’t see your niece or nephew for a while, and then you are shocked by how much they’ve changed and grown since the last time you saw them?

    Kind of like the day-to-day little things set the tone for a life… And then there’s the idea that it is the quality of the silence on either side of a sound that gives meaning and context to the sound….

  • marbella

    I have been thinking this a lot recently too, thanks for articulating it so well! We are about to move to AZ from DC after 10 years oh the big things, and I can’t wait for some of the quiet times :-)

  • Rose

    Oh goodness – I can’t wait for that point. I’m so glad to hear that it DOES happen.

  • Yes, thanks for this. The Big Things need a lot of discussion and support, but let’s also sing praises for the little and medium things. My husband and I had a lot of Big Things in our first four years (graduations, new jobs, family deaths, family divorces, a deployment, and of course a wedding). Now, I’m so grateful for the relative calm we have. I don’t know what I’d do without our veggie garden, bike rides, dog walks, and Pizza Night. :)

  • Hi Kim! Your post really resonated with me. After a busy first half of the year trying to Make Things Happen, B and I are inhabiting this quiet space you speak of. It’s quite nice. And you are right, quiet doesn’t equal stagnation. I like to think we are reveling in the space in between. :)

  • One More Sara

    aaah exactly!!! I think I’m just going to send people this post when they wonder why my partner and I aren’t “doing anything” (even though we still have a lot to get done in the next few years). The first two years of our relationship were filled with airplanes, an international move (and the immigration and emotional stuff to go along with it), language barriers, and oh yeah, a BABY. The past year and a half of quiet time has really functioned as just a space to let these Big Decisions rest (like a nice steak) and really emotionally process What The Hell Just Happened.

    • Emotional processing time for What the Hell Just Happened is so important. My husband and I have had so many big upheavals in the last year, and right now we’re doing a whole lot of nothing. Which actually means just taking time to let all the big things settle and get comfortable with the changes our lives have taken. Everything doesn’t have to happen on the fast track.

  • Taylor B

    Thank you for celebrating and honoring this part of healthy relationships! We recently took a backpacking trip, just the two of us, and declared it wedding-talk-free. The trip was incredible, we were ecstatically happy and relaxed, and had such a wonderful time just being together. After grad school and money worries and two graduations and a proposal, our pace has been swift the last few years. The space to enjoy each other gave me memories I will always cherish. And what I realized is just what you said – “Look at us!” I can hardly recognize the boy he was when we met, who retreated into himself when hurt or angry, and held himself separate from me for years. I cringe when I remember the girl I was nearly eight years ago. Look at us now! So safe with one another, so confident, so loving.

    Thank you for reminding me of these beautiful facts of my own life and partnership. So happy to hear of your anniversary, enjoy!

  • Curly Haired Husband and I have experienced sooo much change this past year alone, and as we approach our 4th year of marriage, it’s just a little dismaying, I guess, to say, Shit – look what we’ve done. Somedays, I’m proud. Other days, I’m so exhausted I want to weep. Each day, one or both of us looks at the other and says, “We’re OK. We are fine and we have accomplished a lot today.”

    We’ve set aside one day out of the week as Sabbath for us… sometimes we stick to it. Other times, I’m on call and get called in or we get wrapped up in more complicated homesteading issues than we should on our day off together. I guess that’s our quiet time.

    • Kara

      Sabbath. Yes, we need to designate a day each week as such. We get there most weeks, but it generally happens accidentally.

  • Marina

    Oh so awesome. I’ve made an early New Years resolution for 2013 to have a boring year. No Life Changing Events. No additions (or subtractions, hopefully!) to the family. No moving. No new schools. No job changes. I’m a very goal-oriented person, but I’m ready for a year of boring, status quo, same ol’ same ol’. Because I love our status quo and I want to settle in to appreciating it.