ON MY MIND: Writing a script for marriage

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

My husband and I are lucky. We like the same TV shows. The other night we were discussing how hard it must be to write a great script and then keep it exciting season after season. We decided it must be like keeping a marriage exciting. Think about it.

Before you get married, you think about what marriage will be like. You fantasize. You dream. You hope. Then you get married and whoa, baby, reality sets in. What do you do? You design a new script.

You go through years without children. Life is simple. There are just two of you to make decisions around. Then baby makes three. Whoa, baby, again! You are forced into making a new script because everything has changed.

This parenting life goes on and on, as long as you do, however, the chapters differ. There is one for having kids before they are in school. Then there is a different one for when they are in school. When they get to high school, the script brings new dimensions and dangers. When they graduate and leave home, you need another totally different plan again.

You may think that after the kids all leave that the script will be the same as before you had them. However, life is never that simple. You have both grown and changed. Some call that maturity. Some call it aging. Whatever – you are in need of a rewrite.

What to do with this new empty nest, this emptier life? Can we fill each other up again? Are we enough, just the two of us? Do we still like each other? Can we laugh together anymore? Sometimes parents have spent so much time and effort on raising the kids that they have totally let the marriage relationship fade away. This calls for some major script writing of a very creative kind.

There is a wonderful freedom that comes with this time of life. Hopefully, we have time, energy and money to pursue things we couldn’t have made happen earlier in our lives. We know what we like. We know what we don’t like. What we write now is likely one we have not thought about before. We were always too busy to even fantasize about this time of life. It seemed so very far away, yet here it is, in our face, waiting for us to live it.

If we are lucky, we get to write a grandparenting script, a retirement one, a leisure one.

As people move into a more aged state, they must again rewrite their scripts. Later in life there are all kinds of decisions on where to live, health issues, etc. Each of these requires rewrites to the plan we were working off of.

I just read an article about how TV shows want to know ahead of time when they are going to end their run. They want to plan it and plan it well. They want to creatively write their final season rather than have someone just give them a script that someone else wrote and be told to close it down.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. We need to beware. If we don’t bother to rewrite our marriage scripts as we go through this big life we have, we will still go through life. We will probably be making the journey passively, though, and reacting to what each stage of life brings to us. We will be riding through our lives in the passenger seat, rather than taking the wheel and taking charge. All along our way, we need to be able to adjust, redo, be open and flexible to our life and it’s stages. Just like a great TV show, we need to keep on writing new exciting scripts for us to live out.

This reminds me of a quote I love that I put in my first book, “Run with your Dreams”. “There are three choices in life. We can consent to how our life is. We can resent how our life is … or we can invent how our life is.” I think invention is the way to go and another way to say that is to keep writing new scripts.

I will close with a Richard Bach quote. “Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.”

 Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

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