In life we make plans, grand, beautiful and wonderful plans. Sometimes our plans knock the socks of those who hear our plans or who watch us as we are carrying out those plans. Then, all of a sudden, something goes wrong, our plans get messed up and we are left lost and wondering what to do. This book reminded me of marriage and the ups and downs of married life. When my husband and I decided to marry about 25 years ago, I told him what I wanted.
Janeane: We are getting married and we are going to live happily ever after.
Darren: What if we don’t?
Janeane: There is no what if, we are getting married and we are going to live happily ever after. That is it.
Over the course of our married life, we have had ups and downs. The church girl in me, says that we have had peaks and valley experiences. We married when I was 23 (for one whole month) and he was 28 (for one whole day). We built a life together. We purchased a home, graduated from college, law school and grad school. We had children, and saw one of those children go from kindergarten to her freshman year at one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. We had grand plans and looking from the beginning of the marriage to this very day, by all measures, we have succeeded.
At the same time, there have been some hard times, some horribly hard times. For many years we struggled with infertility. I cannot count all the horrible things that people who were family or claimed to be friends said to use as we tried without success to become parents. Later after the birth of two children, we lost a child due to miscarriage. Having had the experience, I truly understand why events like the loss of a child destroys marriages. Almost two years ago, two of my daughters and I were struck and almost killed by a hit and run driver with a history of drunk driving. Almost losing a child in that way is another stress factor that causes some marriages to fail. But, we remembered the plan – get married and live happily ever after.
We dealt with my husband losing two parents, a beloved grandmother as well as aunts and uncles. Those deaths may have been foreseeable, but we did not have a plan for how to deal with them. When these deaths occurred, they knocked us back, caused us distress, made us cry and wonder how we would go on and find happy days again. Once again, it was easy to see how situations like these could cause a marriage to fail. But, we remembered the plan – get married and live happily ever after.
Still later we dealt with illnesses, heart disease and extreme diabetes that landed my husband in the ICU unit for a week and out of work for two months. There is nothing like seeing your spouse lying in a hospital room and not knowing if he will live or die. When you have been married 24 years, have 4 children at home and never imagined life without your spouse, it is a horrible thing to spend a week in the ICU unit of a hospital. But, we remembered the plan – get married and live happily ever after.
[Tweet “Make plans and stick to them, but to succeed, be life water and adapt.”]
The story about those who lost their lives in Trapped Under the Sea and those who survived reminds me of our marriage story. Most things start with a plan. After all, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So, everything starts with a plan. Then life happens. This means other people get involved. Situations that were never imagined happen. Stuff goes wrong, so very wrong. Then what matters is a person’s ability to stick to the plan and adapt as necessary. My husband always says he strives to be like water. (An appropriate analogy in light of the story about the Boston Harbor.) He says that water moves, adapts and changes to fit the circumstances. Water can almost disappear as steam or it can be rock hard as ice. Water can fill in blanks and can create crevices. Water is strong, water is powerful and water survives.
My marriage has been that way, ups and downs, from steam to water to ice to water. Through it all we have succeeded, we have remembered the plan – get married and live happily ever after.