Ours is a walking marriage. After thirteen years, my husband and I have figured out the secret to a happy marriage: walking. We walk to see how far we can get. Some days yield more steps than others. It’s our exercise as we work toward our twelve thousand steps each day (okay, more like ten thousand). It’s our financial planning time—every financial decision we’ve made was either decided or at least discussed on our walks. It’s our meal-planning time as we walk up to the grocery store, through which we learned a tactical lesson: fewer purchases mean lighter bags for the return trip. It’s our time for political discussions and given our political polarity it gives me an out as I can just walk, or stomp away, when his comments become too partisan. Yes, we’ve fought on our walks and we’ve made up equally as much. And it’s our method of coping with the isolation of the pandemic.
On these walks, we’ve confessed our weaknesses and bolstered each other up against them. We’ve bemoaned our aches and pains and encouraged each other past them. We’ve discussed the sad state of our sidewalks and the rude or distracted drivers. We’ve remarked on the wide, blue sky and the scant acorns waiting for us to walk directly beneath before dropping. We’ve inhaled the scent of honeysuckles and of not-so-pleasant geese droppings.
These walks are invigorating and as essential to my writing life as it is to our marriage. We sometimes reach a comfortable silence. It’s my thinking time when I’m solving a character issue or a plot point or working on the questions of life. Why are we here? Does God love us? Why do people have to suffer? Once, when I imagined my husband pondering the same, I asked him what he was thinking. His response was less existential. “I was just wondering what the $6Million Dollar Man would be worth in today’s dollars?” I laughed for several blocks.
There is another couple we often see out on our walks. We’ve named them Harold and Marge. My husband gets a kick out of the fact that Marge is always outwalking Harold. “She done it again, left poor Harold in the dust,” according to my husband. And then we worry whenever we see Harold walking alone.
When I ask him to dream with me a bit about what life might still have in store for us, he’ll describe how he would love to drive his truck in the wrong direction down Church Street in Manassas at three A.M. on any given Saturday just to see how far he could get. Or take that same truck up the embankment on Grant Ave under the railroad overpass. Again, just to see how far he could get. (Look, I didn’t say my husband was sane!)
On the weekends, we extend our walks and find our way into Old Town where we admire the architecture and debate landscaping decisions and choose which house we’d snatch up should it ever come on the market. We stop for coffee or for trinkets or for conversation.
Ours is a walking marriage. This is our time together. It’s our thing. As we amble on, we are both silently aware of how grateful we are for each other, our blessings, our laughs, our annoyances, our quirks, our ability to just walk together, and the privilege of sharing this life together—just to see how far we can get.