Victoria Lin Peterson-Hilleque
Finding the Unfamiliar in the Familiar
And I still like him after 22 years of marriage.
I love this man with a depth and particularity I never imagined when I married him as a 23 year old. He is my partner of more than 22 years. I have lived with him longer than anyone else. I have spent more time with him than anyone. Fought with him more than anyone. Eaten with him, traveled with him, adored and hated him more than anyone in the entire world.
I have a low threshold for tolerating familiar things. In other words, I demand a lot of change and variety in my life, as long as I am in control of it. (As a control freak, I don’t like change imposed by others, as a general rule.) I get bored fast and brush off people and things I think I’ve figured out. My husband has supported and loved me through my many shifting moods, patterns, ideas, and plans (including more careers and hairstyles than either of us care to recall). However, in my marriage I have witnessed over and over the beauty of discovering unfamiliarity within the familiar. I suspect, at least for me, believing in that is essential to cultivating our love. It requires a discipline on my part that I respect more in theory than I practice. Looking for the unfamiliar in the familiar is a practice I desperately need.
I will never know and understand my husband completely. Just as I cannot ever know and understand myself completely. No matter how long we are together, I want to remember there will always be aspects of him worth exploring. He holds mysteriousness within him that I may never find if I don’t keep looking for it, expecting it. It is easier to remember this with friends, who seem less familiar because I don’t live with them, eat with them, sleep with them, and bicker with them on a moment to moment basis.
Just as I am always changing, so is my partner. Just as we continually change as individuals, we also change as a couple. No one knows where this awareness will take us — what adventures we might have within the deceptively familiar frame of our partnership. This requires a vigilant attention, a mindfulness, I want to practice forever. This is my path.