Relationship Authors Get Real With The Nest: An Essay by Susie Orman Schnall

Susie Orman Schnall wrote On Grace
For the next 6 days, The Nest is hosting a series of essays about real life marriage with different female authors, with today's by Susie Orman Schnall.

For the next six days, The Nest is hosting a series of essays about real life marriage by female authors who primarily write about love and marriage in their fiction titles. These authors who write about fictional marriage are ready to dish out the truth on real relationships through a series of personal essays, showing their incredible insight into relationships they've acquired through the creation of their characters.

Our fifth essay comes from author Susie Orman Schnall, whose debut novel, On Grace (SparkPress 2014), explores modern marriage, fidelity, friendship and finding yourself. Her upcoming novel The Balance Project: A Novel (SparkPress 2015) explores the issues of having it all and work-life balance and is based on her interview series about balance.

Make sure to join our #WritersGetReal Twitter chat tonight from 10pm-11pm EST by following us at @TheNest. Susie will be taking over our Twitter to answer all of your questions about her essay, writing process and real life relationships!

“Marriage — On The Other Side"

In nine months I will celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. Back when I counted my anniversaries on one hand, I thought married couples in their second decade of anniversaries — besides being terribly old — must really know something about marriage. I know something about some things: how to make truly delicious chocolate-chip banana bread, how to paddleboard, how to sing every Bryan Adams and Cat Stevens song (I am terribly old). But something about marriage?

My husband proposed on one knee with a diamond solitaire set in platinum during the appetizer course at a fancy New York City restaurant when I was 23 and he was 24. There was no question I would say yes. We had met when I was a college sophomore and he was a junior. We kissed before we even had a first date — something not as common then as it is now — and I asked him on that first date. So much for not chasing boys.

We were together — dating, engaged, married — for 11 years B.C. (Before Children). It's easy to designate those early years as the honeymoon phase. Those days of holding hands while we walked through a sunlit Central Park gazing into each other's eyes. Those days of Sunday mimosa brunches, long runs and New York Times section swapping. Those days of closing the door while you used the toilet.

Those days were great. Our entire lives were ahead of us. We were the lucky ones. We had found “the one." That feeling of being in love was so salient. Like being wet or being hungry. I felt it completely in every cell of my body.

But as we got older, as our children changed the nature of our lives, as we became the adults we had been preparing ourselves to become, our love changed as well. When I was on the cusp of that change, it was scary. And unwelcome. Where did the butterflies go? Why are we not making love every night? Why am I not as interested in that hobby of his that I was never interested in but that I used to do anyway?

When I finally emerged on the other side of the passage, though, I realized that the honeymoon phase — while exciting and meaningful and necessary and toe-curling — was preparation. And now, only now, I feel like an adult with a mature marriage. And again I feel lucky. Lucky that I, unlike so many I know, have a marriage that lasted.

This is what my marriage looks like today: We have three young boys filling our weekends, our homes and our hearts. We have a lifetime of memories in our minds and in the photo albums lining our bookshelves of trips taken, parties thrown, milestones reached, babies born and the individual moments that meant almost nothing when they happened but mean absolutely everything now. We have history and understanding and mad skills in the communication department. We have the comfort in knowing a fight won't doom us.

There are times when I worry that maybe I don't love my husband anymore. But, when I analyze those feelings I realize that's because I don't love my husband like I used to. I don't love my husband the way they make love look in the movies. And I don't love my husband by the more-popular definition of love that society ascribes to: hearts and burning arrows, intense making-out instead of watching the movie, reservations on Valentine's Day.

I love him like two people love each other when they've loved each other for almost 25 years. And though that's different from new love and it won't cause me to lose my appetite, match my bra to my underwear on a daily basis or present my husband with silk boxers on Feburary 14, it will cause me to realize something true and fundamental.

That mature love is different than new love. And that's not a bad thing. In fact, it might even be better.

We have years and years ahead of us. Years to learn what love looks like and acts like when our children no longer need us like they do now, when we once again have time to walk through Central Park and finish the Sunday paper without interruption, when we are tired and wrinkled and sick. And I imagine love will feel entirely different at that point.

But while we have today, this moment in time, this opportunity to love each other in a way that feels like a warm beach at sunset, I will enjoy this love that looks like contentment, commitment, comfort and companionship. This love that looks like a 20th wedding anniversary.

— by Susie Orman Schnall, @susieschnall

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