Today I traveled across the country coming home from visiting my youngest daughter and newest grandbaby, Maggie. What a wonderful time it was to be with her and her young parents. While staying with them, I observed some very sweet reminders of what makes marriage work and what keeps it alive and sweet. Besides the joy of caring for a newborn, I was touched by the low mumble of their quiet pillow talk every night when the lights went out. I could only hear that they were talking, not what they were saying, but it made me happy. Another time, Mark came home with Jill’s favorite kind of cookie, knowing that she hadn’t been out of the house in days.
When I later opened my email, I found this poem posted by Ted Kooser, former US Poet Laureate, on his website “American Life in Poetry.” It seemed to capture the secret of keeping a strong marriage and affirmed what I had observed with Jill and Mark. I love how the comparisons in this poem are so accessible and real. The mundane things often teach us profound lessons. The words that follow are Ted Kooser’s:
“I don’t think I’ve ever sold anything that, later, I didn’t wish I had back, and I have a list of regrets as long as my arm. So this poem by Melissa Balmain really caught my attention. Balmain lives in New York State, and her most recent book is Walking in on People, from Able Muse Press.”
The afternoon we left our first apartment,
we scrubbed it down from ceiling to parquet.
Who knew the place could smell like lemon muffins?
It suddenly seemed nuts to move away.
The morning someone bought our station wagon,
it gleamed with wax and every piston purred.
That car looked like a centerfold in Hot Rod!
Too late, we saw that selling was absurd.
And then there was the freshly tuned piano
we passed along to neighbors with a wince.
We told ourselves we’d find one even better;
instead we’ve missed its timbre ever since.
So if, God help us, we are ever tempted
to ditch our marriage when it’s lost its glow,
let’s give the thing our finest spit and polish—
and, having learned our lesson, not let go.