friendship / Marriage / Relationships

Are Differences Ever Really Irreconcilable?

Pulling into Montreal on a humid Saturday this weekend, I had the strange sensation of returning to a place that once felt like home and no longer does. Though I wasn’t born in Montreal, I lived there for important years and the city is steeped with personal history—first love, family tombstones, the vague smell of cigarette smoke and cut grass in summer. I never imagined that flying over the dusty urban sprawl into LAX would feel familiar. But life moves on and though it’s often said that people don’t change, I think our capacity to adapt is truly amazing. As the sun descended over Montreal and I tucked into dirty martinis with a few friends, I remembered how I left this city five years ago with a new relationship and an unknown future. We had obstacles, both seen and unforeseen, in front of us  and no idea whether we would end up together. Now, edging on the two-year marriage anniversary mark, I feel certain that the challenges we’ll face we’ll endure. So far we’ve covered two-years long distance, massive financial challenges, a year long stint in porn, and much, much more.

Over dinner, my friends and I discussed our new lives, the two of them are respectively at the end of a three-year relationship and the difficult beginnings of another. We ended up in a debate on the subject of irreconcilable differences. As the married gal in the group (still a rarity among my thirty-something peers), I find myself wondering more and more if such a thing exists, meaning—are the differences themselves really irreconcilable or is it the desire to work through our crap that’s lacking when differences become too much?  As my one friend (dating an aforementioned  much older gentleman) discussed whether her issues were surmountable, it seemed to me that the details were less important than the question of whether she truly wanted the relationship to work out. Despite her exhaustion and frustration with her situation (a shit storm of moving in together, finances, and melding worlds) I sensed that she did. On the flip side, while my other friend’s issues actually seemed conquerable, the difference was that he didn’t seem to want it to work out. As is often the case in these types of discussion, we wove a vodka-fueled tapestry of clichés: What if love is not enough? Maybe it shouldn’t be this hard; and Relationships are hard work. Like all clichés they provided a healthy dollop of ambivalence and a dash of the truth. It seems to me that the recipe for a lasting relationship is deep feeling backed by timing and perseverance.

I’m up north in the countryside now and the afternoon is heating up. It’s time for a kayak ride and some more family discussion on the dock of my in-law’s recent adventures on a fishing trip to Alaska. They include: a near grizzly bear attack, hypothermia, dehydration and the oversight of bringing a map. I kid you not. Given that they’re still speaking, I’m pretty sure they’ve chosen the reconcilable differences route. 

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