Hills and Valleys


In my 18 year relationship, 14 of those married, I’ve learned a thing or two about marriage. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that marriage is all about hills and valleys.  Sometimes you are on top of a hill…the air is fresh, the scenery is splendid, and you can see far into the distance. It is like you can see clearly for eternity. Other times you are in a valley…the air is full of smog, the scenery is a bit drab, and there are those darn mountain walls blocking your view of the distance. You can only see the immediate obstacle of climbing that mountain all the way to the top. Then, there are the times when you are in between…climbing up out of the valley. It is a steep grade. Your traction isn’t that great. You might even slip back down. But, you keep climbing.


Those valleys are the tough terrain of a marriage. Valleys are journeys that can last for weeks, months, years or even decades. That’s where a lot of marriages hang up their hiking boots…in the valley. They just get tired of climbing back out. They’ve seen the insides of that same valley so many times that they can’t bear to visit it again. The sheer thought is exhausting!


I have yet to hear of a marriage that calls it quits on top of a hill…when everything looks splendid and smells so fresh and sweet. Couples don’t say, “Whew! We made it to the top! It’s been all worth it…but let’s call it quits!” Once you make it out of a valley you feel renewed and refreshed. Your love is rekindled.


I’d like to say that we don’t visit the valley much…but, we do. Even after half of our lives together we still fall into the valley. Sometimes it takes longer than others to climb back out. Sometimes we are in that valley with our tents and sleeping bags intending to be a while. Sometimes it is just a day trip and we just pack a lunch.


We try to enjoy the scenery on the way back to the top of the hill. It can be a very long hike. It’s nice to get the binoculars out and see into the distance… what we are treading towards. The remembrance of our goal is nice.  


It can be tiring, in that instance, we just sit down and rest. There is no marathon back up to the top. We aren’t racing anyone. It is a journey at our own pace. It is a journey meant for two.


Most of the time we enjoy the company… The talking passes the time, the communication of feelings makes the pain of traveling go away, the “I’m sorry” statements cure the hunger and thirst, and the hand holding balances our steps.

Maybe someday our visits to the valley will lessen or at least their durations will. Until then, we trek along hand-in-hand together. Sometimes we pull out old postcards from our journeys and reminisce about where we’ve been before and where we are now. 

What I’ve noticed is that the hike back-up from the valley becomes familiar. We recognize this stone or that ravine. Like an obstacle course, we can navigate around those instead of going through or over them. At the end of the journey we realize what we are made of. Our love has a story to tell.

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