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我的婚姻是场网球赛

Rallying to Keep the Game Alive
我的婚姻是场网球赛

When I took up tennis, my husband was happy to play with our two children and me, as long as we didn’t have to play by the rules. As Denis repeatedly explained to us, playing by the rules placed him at an unfair disadvantage because he didn’t know the rules, and he didn’t know how to serve.

当我开始打网球时,丈夫很乐意跟两个孩子和我一起玩,只要我们不必按规则来。正如丹尼斯反复和我们解释的那样,按规则打球让他处在不公平的劣势地位,因为他不了解规则,也不知道怎样发球。

Instead of learning the rules, he wanted to play a variation of tennis he had invented with another actor while on location in a tropical country. Their game involved no serving and a complicated but curiously malleable set of rules that often appeared, to me, to change midgame and almost always to Denis’s advantage.

他不去学习规则,反而想按照他和另一个演员在某个热带国家拍外景戏时,他自己发明的一种打法。他们的比赛没有发球局,有一套复杂却又奇特的变通规则,在我看来,往往是在比赛中途改变,而且几乎总是对丹尼斯有利。

This caused some heated courtside squabbles. I’m ashamed to admit that one year we spent several days of a family vacation not speaking to each other after a game of “Denis Tennis” that I had lost “unfairly” (I repeatedly hissed at our children), until finally our son and daughter had to intervene and coerce a truce between us.

有时候,我们就在场边大吵起来。我都不好意思承认,有一年在我“不公平地”输掉一场“丹尼斯网球”比赛(我多次对着孩子们发出嘘声)后,在全家度假的几天里,我们彼此都不和对方说话,直到最后儿子和女儿不得不介入,强迫我们休战。

This was a tricky time in our marriage. Though we had found tennis late, we had found each other quite early in our adult lives, and now we were going through a rough patch, one that had lasted for years.

那是我们婚姻中一段棘手的时期。虽然我们很晚才爱上网球,却在成年后很早就爱上了彼此,如今我们正经历一段艰难时期,一段持续了多年的艰难时期。

When we met, I was 20, he 25. We were too young and inexperienced to know that people don’t change who they are, only how they play and work with others. Our basic problem was, and is, that we are almost identical — in looks, attitudes and psychological makeup. Two Leos who love children and animals, and are intensely emotional and highly sensitive and competitive with everybody, but especially with each other.

我们相遇时,我20岁,他25岁。那时的我们太年轻、缺乏经历,不懂得人们不会改变他们自身,只会改变他们与他人一起玩和工作的方式。我们的基本问题过去是、现在仍然是——我们几乎一模一样,无论是外表、态度还是心理构成。两个都喜欢孩子和动物的狮子座,感情强烈、极其敏感,会和每个人竞争,尤其是和对方。

When the children came along, we got caught up in the tallying of efforts, the scorekeeping of who was doing more for the marriage and family and who was being self-serving, unloving and disapproving. We didn’t bicker often, but when we fought, we raged.

孩子出生后,我们对付出变得斤斤计较,计算着谁为婚姻和家庭做得更多,谁表现得自私、没有爱心、总是不以为然的样子。我们不常争吵,但吵架时,我们会大发雷霆。

Eventually we began to see a marriage counselor, who, among other things, suggested that we have a regular date night. Our apathy was such that our date night was our marriage-counseling night. Afterward we sometimes went to a movie. One of the movies we saw was “March of the Penguins.”

最后,我们开始去见婚姻咨询师,他建议我们安排一个固定的约会之夜等等。我们都兴趣寡然,约会之夜于是变成了婚姻咨询之夜。后来我们有时去看电影。我们看的其中一部电影是《帝企鹅日记》(March of the Penguins)。

This movie moved us to tears because whatever battles raged between us, however ugly the other often appeared to be, we had these two very delicate fledglings that needed to be protected and carried along carefully, so carefully, because is anything more fragile than a preteenage girl or a growing, unsure boy?

这部片子让我们感动落泪,因为无论我们之间爆发了怎样的争吵,无论对方常常看上去有多么让人烦,我们有这两个非常娇弱的雏鸟需要悉心、相当悉心的呵护和照顾,因为有什么比一个才过10岁的女孩,或一个还在成长、缺乏信心的男孩更脆弱?

These great children were the reason we were in counseling, the reason we were trying to keep the family egg whole. So we worked hard at playing nice. We had regular family nights and took family vacations. And on occasion we tried to play tennis together.

这两个很棒的孩子是我们接受咨询的原因,也是我们努力保持家庭和睦的原因。所以我们努力表现得友好。我们有固定的家庭之夜和家庭度假。偶尔还尽量一起打网球。

Despite all of this, the marriage continued to flounder, and the time came when we met in our marriage counselor’s office and I said, “I think it’s over.”

尽管如此,我们的婚姻仍然是在艰难维持,然后时候到了:我们在婚姻咨询师的办公室见面时,我说,“我觉得已经完了。”

“That’s it,” Denis agreed.

“是的,”丹尼斯同意了。

When we left, it felt as if we were floating, we were so calm. We had stormed out of those doors and stomped down those steps in such rages before, but now Denis held the door for me, and I thanked him. When we got to the street, it was snowing. I had boots with heels, and the sidewalks were icy. I couldn’t walk on the icy sidewalks with those heels, so I asked if I could hold his arm, if he could walk me home.

我们离开时,感觉就像在漂浮,我们是如此的平静。我们曾经气冲冲地冲出那些门,气鼓鼓地踏下那些台阶,但现在丹尼斯为我扶着门,我跟他道了谢。走到街上时,外面正在下雪。我穿着带跟的靴子,人行道上结了冰。我没法穿着那双高跟鞋在结冰的人行道上行走,便问能不能挽着他的胳膊,他能不能陪我走回家。

“Sure,” he said. He didn’t care.

“当然,”他说。他不在乎。

Neither did I. I just needed something to hold on to so I wouldn’t slip and fall. I clung to his arm, and we bent our bodies into the wind.

我也是。我只是需要一些东西来支撑,让自己不至于滑倒。我紧紧抓住他的胳膊,我们一起迎着风弯着身子。

“The thing is,” he said as we walked, “I’m tired and hungry.”

“问题是,”我们边走他边说,“我又累又饿。”

“Let’s get something to eat,” I said.

“我们去吃点东西吧,”我说。

We went to the restaurant across from our building, a little neighborhood place where the waiters know our names and the chef knows how we like our burgers. We sat in a booth in the back. Denis ordered soup.

我们去了自家楼对面的餐厅,那是个街坊小馆,里面的服务员知道我们的名字,厨师知道我们喜欢什么样的汉堡。我们在靠里的一个卡位坐下。丹尼斯点了汤。

It was all over, there was nothing to lose, so I decided to serve up my final grievances, the things I felt he needed to know to fully understand that he was the cause of our marriage’s untimely end. I reminded him, in a resigned tone, of the time he did this, the time he did that.

那时一切都已结束,没有什么可以失去的,所以我决定说出我最后的不满,那是我觉得他需要知道的事情,以便充分理解是他导致了我们婚姻的过早结束。我用一种无怨无悔的语气提醒他,有一次他做了这么件事,还有一次他做了那么件事。

These were the wretched rags of resentment so bitter and old, so petty, that I had been too ashamed even to mention them in therapy, so now I balled them up and tossed them onto Denis’s court.

这是些怨恨的破衣烂衫,那么尖刻而陈旧,那么琐碎,我在治疗的时候甚至羞于启齿,这会儿我便把它们揉成一团,扔到丹尼斯那边的球场上。

Denis just ate his soup. When he was finished, he wiped his chin with his napkin. We were both so calm it was as if the island of Manhattan had been gassed with some kind of Valium vapor.

丹尼斯喝了汤,喝完用餐巾擦了擦下巴。我们都很平静,就好像曼哈顿岛被什么镇静剂喷雾包围了一样。

I guess there was no emotion left, it was all over, and we both experienced this finality as a surprising relief. We were like the penguin couple in “March of the Penguins” that accidentally dropped and broke their egg. They looked at the egg for a time, and then they parted ways, because penguins don’t mate for life. They court each other, commit each other’s voice to memory, produce an egg, devote themselves to its care, and when it dies, or matures, the parents part company.

我想我已经没有什么情绪了,一切都结束了,我们都把这个结局当做一种惊人的解脱。我们就像《帝企鹅日记》里的那对企鹅夫妇,它们不小心把蛋掉到地上摔碎了,看了一会儿企鹅蛋,然后就分头而去,因为企鹅夫妇不是相伴终生的。它们向对方求爱,把对方的声音牢记于心,生下一只蛋,全身心地照料它,当它死去或长大后,父母便分道扬镳。

This was how we had come to view our marriage, as a penguin marriage, a partnership devoted to raising children. We had hoped to stick it out until they left the nest, but now it looked as if that would be impossible. So we were just having a last look.

这就是我们对我们的婚姻的看法,企鹅婚姻,一种致力于抚养孩子的伙伴关系。我们原本希望能坚持到他们离开巢穴,但现在看来似乎不可能了。所以我们只是最后看了一眼。

Denis carefully refolded his napkin, and then said: “I’m sorry. If I could change those things I would, but I can’t. They’re in the past. But, I’m sorry.”

丹尼斯小心翼翼地叠好餐巾,然后说:“对不起。如果我能改变这一切,我愿意,但我做不到。一切都过去了。但是,我很抱歉。”

I had expected him to cry foul, to react the way he did when I said a questionable tennis shot of his was out. But he just said he was sorry. And I believed him. He had no reason to make up that kind of thing now.

我原以为他会大喊犯规,就像打网球时我说他的一个争议球出界了一样。但他只是说他很抱歉。我相信他是这么想的。现在他没有理由再编造这种事了。

His calm admission inspired me to exhale my own litany of regrets and apologies. In the movies, this would have been the moment we leapt into each other’s embrace, but in real life, we ordered more food. We called the children in the apartment to see if they wanted to go to a movie. That night Denis didn’t stay in a hotel; he stayed home. The next day we all drove to the country. The family, after all that mad jostling, somehow had remained intact.

他平静的承认激起了我一连串的后悔和道歉。如果在电影里,接下来我们就应该彼此相拥了,但这是发生在现实生活里,我们只是点了更多食物。我们打电话给在家里的孩子们,问他们想不想去看电影。那天晚上丹尼斯没有住旅馆;他待在家里。第二天我们一起开车去乡下。经过了这番疯狂的争吵之后,我们的家庭不知怎么依然完好。

So things got better. We went to our counselor. We went to our movies. We worked at treating each other more fairly. And we started playing a lot of tennis, just the two of us, whenever we could. Only now we played by the rules.

所以情况变好了。我们去找咨询师。我们去看电影。我们努力让彼此更加平等。我们开始经常打网球,只有我们俩,只要有机会就打。只是现在,我们按规则打球。

Though I had many lessons under my belt, Denis is the better athlete, so almost immediately we played on more or less the same level. We improved every game. We stopped cheating. (Yes, I admit, we both used to call questionable shots out when we were backed into a corner, and we used to fudge the score if we could, both of us.)

我是学过一阵子的,但丹尼斯的身体素质更好,所以我们几乎马上就达到了旗鼓相当的水平。我们每场比赛都有进步。我们不再作弊。(是的,我承认,当我们被逼急的时候,我们都曾把争议球说成是出界,如果有机会,我们还会编造比分,两个人都会。)

Though we were still ultracompetitive, we were becoming intensely proud when the other hit an amazing shot, and we didn’t hate the winner when we lost. We still played to win, but now we could feel joy for the other. We wanted to improve, and now we wanted, were actually thrilled, to see the other get better, too.

虽然我们仍然好胜,但当对方打出精彩的一球时,我们会觉得非常自豪,输掉比赛时,我们并不憎恨胜者。我们仍然为胜利而战,但现在我们可以为对方感到高兴。我们想要取得进步,现在我们想要的是为对方的进步而兴奋雀跃。

Which brings me to our last game of that summer, the last before we packed up our son and drove him to college. We had each won a set, and now it was 5-5 in the final set. We had reserved the court for only an hour, though, and the hour was almost up. There were other players waiting. So this would have to be the final, and deciding, game of the match. But the games had been so hard won that neither of us could bear to lose the match.

我想起那年夏天的最后一场比赛,那是我们收拾行李送儿子上大学之前的最后一场比赛。我们各赢了一盘,现在,最后一盘的比分是五比五。不过,我们只预定了一个小时的球场,时间差不多到了。还有其他打球的人在等着。所以这将是决胜局。但这场比赛太艰苦了,我俩谁也不能忍受输掉的结果。

Denis was serving in this deciding game. He served carefully, not trying to ace it past me for once. It was too risky. I didn’t take advantage by slamming my return into his backhand court. What if it went out? The match would be over.

丹尼斯在这场决胜局中发球。他发球很小心,一次也没有冒险尝试直接发球得分。我没有趁机把回球打到他的反手。如果出界怎么办?比赛就要结束了。

I hit the ball into his court, and he hit it back into mine. I placed the ball in his court carefully, so carefully, and he placed it back in mine. We rallied, not with the adrenaline-pumping determination to win at all costs, but with the patience and control that came with not wanting it to be over: not the summer, not our son’s childhood, not this game, ever.

我把球打到他的半场,他又把球打回我的半场。我小心翼翼地把球打回他的半场,他又小心翼翼地把球打回我的半场。我们打了一个又一个回合,不是带着不惜一切代价赢得胜利的那种令人肾上腺素飙升的决心,而是带着不希望结束的耐心与控制:不希望夏天结束,不希望儿子的童年结束,也不希望这场比赛结束,永远。

Back and forth we sent the ball. And it occurred to me there was some sort of grace in my husband’s form, and I felt it in mine, too, as we both worked to keep the game alive just a little longer, by trying to find each other’s sweet spot, by playing, for once, to the other’s advantage.

我们来回击球。我觉得丈夫的击球姿态有些优雅了,我觉得我也有些优雅了。这一次,我们都努力让比赛多持续一段时间,通过让对方发挥优势,找到彼此的最佳感觉。
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