Maybe it’s our anniversary, maybe it’s my reaction to the book. (More on that later.) It’s probably each one and everything else.
Not as many as some, but much more than others. But here we are, still married. And this past weekend we spent two days together celebrating and enjoying each other’s company. No kids, and no house stuff to deal with, and we still had stuff to talk about. And, it was really fun.
I don’t claim to have any marriage expertise or counseling background, just my life so far. And so far I’ve learned a few things.
1. When you marry young, you grow up together. I was 23 and he was 24. We weren’t babies, but we had much life left to live. And looking back, I see how at the core we may be the same people, but a lot has changed. We’ve grown up, changed our minds about things, figured out we didn’t know it all, and made plenty of mistakes along the way. The growing pains still come and go, I think we’ve actually done a decent job of growing into the people we truly are, also aware that there is plenty more to come. When you grow up together, you need to give each other room to grow. If we aren’t flexible, we will break. When you grow, you change. (disclaimer- not sure I should even say young- it’s a life thing. No matter the age, you grow and change.
2. The glory days will end. They just will. That euphoric feeling will die and there is nothing wrong with you for that. I remember in the first days, weeks and even months that we were married, Drew would often and out of the blue say, “We are married!” It was an awe. It was new. It was exciting. And they really were. We traveled a lot, we visited family and friends several times a year. We worked, we were students, we wandered. But it just can’t stay that way and, it didn’t. The other truth is this, those first years (though euphoric at times) were also really damn hard. We were trying to figure each other out. We were surprised by each other. We fought. We made up. We fought again. Highs and lows, those were the years. And though it may seem sad that the glory ends, it’s really nice to have a more natural ebb and flow to our relationship- not as many extreme highs and low. We trade the glory for the steady. And age has told me, steady is good. Very good.
3. You will have moments where you question your life together. I remember when we were first married, Drew told me that he was given this advice… You will be attracted to other people. You will. You have to choose your spouse over and over. That was what you promised. You may find that you question if you married the right person and maybe your life isn’t flowing perfectly together at all times. Wait it out. WAIT. This is where the beauty grows. It’s amazing what happens when you stick with it. One of my biggest questions was when Drew told me several years ago that he was very unsure about his faith. It terrified me. I questioned it all. How would we raise kids together? How would we fit into the church? How would the Christian community feel about us if we didn’t believe all the same things? Well, guess what. I waited that one out- the result- VERY GOOD THINGS. Not a neat package that I had originally hoped for. It was a dismantling of both of our faiths as we once knew. The questions began to be a part of both of our lives. And, instead of feeling permanently devastated, I felt freedom. We learned to let each other discover new ways at looking at God. New ways of relating to God. Even wondering if there was a God. It’s a constant process that we have allowed each other to experience individually and together. It’s ok. It’s good. What did I learn? It may seem like the end of the world (which in my life happens so often, I think it may be me. Ok, it is me.) But you have no idea what this change in your path together may bring. Wait for it. New may be scary, but it is also exciting.
Time changes things. But, time also perfects things. And so much, so much gets better. But you have to know that I am only speaking for us. I am aware that there are factors that we have not had to deal with that could make this much more challenging. We have faced challenges- oh yes! Career crises, going back to school, miscarriage, parenting, faith issues, and more. But there has been such value in sticking it out. We understand each other so much more and when the crisis comes, panic doesn’t follow as quickly. (ok, once again, Drew is much better at this.)
I just finished The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I love Sue Monk Kidd. But in this story I struggled deeply with the main character who was going through a mid life crisis and walked away from her marriage to be with someone she just felt deep down- they belonged together. And while the book was captivating and there were many beautiful ideas in it, I couldn’t let go of my discomfort with her choices. What if we all did that? Very few marriages would last. Our feelings will change. Our circumstances with change. WE will change. But we chose this.
SO. We eloped. We made an impulsive decision when we had known each other for less than a year. But 15 years later, I can tell you I have no regrets marrying Drew. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Has it been good. YES. But I guess it comes down to this. If I had to work hard at something that was going to be a lifetime process- I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.