Old and Familiar

Y’all, I need some information on marriage.

This is one of those super-annoying posts that seems to be directed at married people, but containing questions probably best answered by single people with open eyes. :-)

What exactly do you do to get to that point where everything is old and familiar?

I read just about everything about marriage before I got married, so I know that at a certain point you are supposed to feel all cozy and comfy and fully informed about everything without ever trying. People talk about this right after they talk about the spark being gone. They say that it is so much better than anything else, even if they do miss the zing! of the early days.

They way in which people talk about this frequently sounds very sad in a sour grapesish sort of way, but the underlying concept of familiarity and comfort sounds lovely.

In some ways I suppose that I have always had this, this comfort. One of the things that stunned me about Josh was how instantly comfortable I was with him. I was not a physically affectionate person–and the entirety of our physical contact at that point was shaking hands–but I could have melted into him if only I had been able to come up with a sufficiently good explanation.

Our relationship also shows signs of familiarity in the sense of efficiency. We still have precisely the same fights as always, but it now takes us about 1/10th of the time that it used to to work through the same fights when we were dating and engaged. Now that I think about it, it is rather stupid that we don’t fight more since we’re now so good at going through everything so quickly and passionately!

Recently I have been beyond grateful that we have had the chance to understand each other well enough that we can communicate quickly and precisely in times of crisis. So I suppose that I do know Josh well in some ways.

But. But we don’t have, or at least I don’t have that old and familiar thing that everyone talks about. I am beginning to suspect that it is not simply a matter of time as some have implied. Or perhaps it is a matter of time, but the amount of time is highly variable? Or perhaps it is time, but only in the sense that time is required to undergo the experiences required to gain this worn comfort?

Of course I am not really complaining. I suppose that in some ways I need the underlying awareness of not completely knowing Josh, the nagging otherness, the alertness that comes from knowing that I don’t know. I can’t really believe that I am doing anything wrong when I am so much happier being married than any other married woman I know.

Yet. Yet I would like to know what it is that I am missing. It may not be possible to have it all, but more information is better, right?

What do you think about relationships, familiarity, contempt and comfort? Is marriage unique in this case, or just one variation of closeness that applies to all friendships? Should I just make Josh sit down and tell me everything about himself?

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6 thoughts on “Old and Familiar

  1. Michelle

    Interesting post! I’m not sure what the ol’ comfy feeling is supposed to feel like. I mean, I am very comfortable with my husband. Comfortable enough that I know I will still love him even though he chews his food much louder (with his mouth closed, too!) than he ever did before we were married. Comfortable enough that we can go days without saying much more to each other than whatever is required to keep the household running smoothly.

    But I still learn things about him on a regular basis. :)

  2. James

    Have y’all even been married 5 years yet? It’s a just bit soon for that “old and familiar”.

    We’ve been married for nearly 11 years. We’re comfortable around each other and always have been, but we still have so much to learn about each other.

    I think the key isn’t just time, but experiences. The more you experience together, the more you learn about each other. Eventually, you’ve been together long enough and experienced enough together that you just “know” each other.

    Sometimes this is a sense of resignation, that you know that your spouse’s bad habits will never get any better. But at it’s best, I believe it is a sense of acceptance—a sense that you love your spouse, warts and all, no matter what, until death do you part.

    THIS, I believe, is what is “so much better than anything else”.

  3. Rebecca

    I love James’ answer!

    I do think it is more about experiences than time, and I also think that even when you think things are “old and familiar” life can through major curve balls at you that cause you to not only question everything about your spouse, but about yourself too. And yet, for us anyway, it is those curve balls and making it through them that gives me that sense of “old and familiar.” It isn’t until after the experience though, that it feels that way, in the midst of them it can be unsettling. (Does this even make sense? Email me if not ;).) For me, it is proof of why marriage should not be undertaken lightly and is meant to be forever. It is why, despite facing challenges harder than I ever dreamed, I continue to say my marriage is the best thing I’ve ever done and continue to do.

  4. Katie

    Rae! You’re back!…or I am?? :)

    I have no advice about marriage, except to say that if you’re questioning…you’re probably on the right track.

    In my life, nothing ever feels quintessentially right. I never know with 100% certainty if what I am doing is what I’m meant to do–yada….so I’ve learned to prayerfully trust the questioning as the “right” thing….and as for the wrong? Well, flashing red lights, railroad bars lowering…you always know when something is wrong.

    My conclusion? If you’re questioning the comfortable stage? It’s on the horizon. ;)

    Single-girl logic :).

  5. Patty

    Rae,

    My Hubby and I have 28 years and I relate totally to your post. But for us the spark left because we had two different approaches to a very difficult parenting situation. We had stopped putting each other first. We became consumed by what we were dealing with and we stopped trying to learn more about each other.

    Even in 28 years there are still things to learn, new attitudes about how we live life, and views that change; if you just assume that you know everything, or that life is a stagnant constant then things will be old and familiar.

    Never assume you know what that makes you and your SO…so don’t assume in your marriage….the moment you feel the old familiar do something totally new, or revisit a place you know well with new eyes. You can’t go back but you can go forward.

  6. Nayhee

    You don’t strike me as the kind of person for whom anything will ever be “old and familiar.” In my opinion, some people may feel that way and others never will. That is not based on 10 years of marriage but 33 yrs of life experience and knowing that people experience the world differently from other people, period. Also, based on the reality that when I look at my kids, I still feel like I am seeing them for the first time, and still asking the question, “so who are you, again?” and “what are you like?”
    I don’t think that will ever stop, honestly, just like they will never stop growing and changing.

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