Sunday, April 12, 2009

Love is easy. Marriage is the hard part.

My handsome husband and I just celebrated our five year wedding
anniversary. So, for the past couple weeks, I have repeatedly found
myself constantly reflecting on the many things that have brought us
here. If I ask myself, "Is it everything you thought it would be?"
then I am surprised that the answer is, "Not really."

Now, before anyone freaks out (Michael), I must state that my
conclusion is based on the fact that I was pretty unprepared for
marriage before I got married.

Oh, I'd known my husband for about two years by that point. We'd had a
lengthy engagement, and we'd gotten to know one another very well. My
husband proposed to me FOUR TIMES -- I most certainly thought
everything through that I could think of; repeatedly!

We both loved each other, had very similar values and goals in life,
but came from different enough backgrounds that our life experiences
helped to complete the other. The chemistry was pretty awesome too. ;)
Always very important!! *laughs*

No, I knew then before we made that journey together that I had fallen
in love with the best man I have ever known. That he would love me,
and take great care of me. And that he would be a good father one day.

As we knelt across the alter from one another that beautiful spring
morning I was happier than I had ever been in my whole life! I have no
idea what the guy said to us during the ceremony -- I really wish I
could remember. :-/

My wedding day and reception had its glitches. This or that didn't go
as planned. But I was so happy and entranced, that the little misshapes
just flew over my head and didn't bother me. The most important thing
was that we'd made it to the alter safe and sound. No matter what
happened next, it would all be okay... =)

... But throughout the following days and weeks after I came up for
air from the newlywed-ness of our lives, I began to ask myself a
startling question:

"So, what happens now?"

The twenty years of my life before my wedding had prepared me mainly
for just that -- the wedding. I mean, every fairytale, movie, novel,
and most Sunday School lessons had ended with "You get married, and
then Happily Ever After."

I was raised on Disney movies, I knew the drill: drama, meet, drama,
fall in love, drama, a few romantic moments, a heart-wrenching plot
twist, a bit more drama, then marriage! Yay! Cue the music and the
ending credits...

But now what?

I must admit that I was a bit irked that I didn't have much to go on
at that point. I mean, we had jobs, a little apartment, and were
making ends meet. I knew how to cook, clean, host parties, mend and
sew, and fix his tie and collar. Wasn't that the definition of a good

Well, lets just say that the "Get out of Jail Free card theory" about
life after the wedding did not pan out. I knew THAT the morning after
we got married, when I baked cinnamon rolls, bacon and eggs, and hot
chocolate for breakfast, and he came out and said he just wanted some
cold cereal. :(

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Love is easy, and Marriage is
the hard part.

When you are just dating, you only see each other at your best. You
took time to look cute. You clear your schedule. You try your best to
be fun and engaging. You still live with your parents, so you have few
bills or responsibilities. So, you get to spend most of the money you
make on going out with each other. Anyone can be fun when there aren't
major responsibilities attached.

But you don't get any of the fun parts of married life when you're
just dating, either.

With marriage comes being around each other ALL THE TIME. It only
sounds good before it happens. Suddenly you're not always cute and
witty. Now you also spend time together when you're feeling ugly and
tired. And if The Pill is now part of life, then chances are you're
hormonal and out of sorts too. No fun. Seriously.

Then there's Rent, utility bills, no parents to wake you up for work,
or clean up after you. Being an adult is a lot of work! Now that you
need to be financially responsible, there is less or no money to go out
to eat, or see a movie. You find yourselves at home all the time,
tired, bored and stressed out.

This is the point when you find out what your relationship is made of.
If you are able to not get pregnant right away, then you get to spend
time together just the two of you, and work a lot of things out. You
get to learn and mature together. You share life's struggles and
experiences together.

When babies come along you never get to sleep or spend time alone
together. And now EVERYONE is hormonal, tired and stressed out! Aaaaa!

But you also have this wonderful bundle of joy complete with
irresistibly kissable toes, and cuddly little bodies to hold close to
your heart as you rock them to sleep. Children remind you what it was
like to be a child yourself, and teach you what your parents had to
put up with as you were growing up.

With marriage comes the love, trust, comfort, stability, and safety of
being with the one who you know will watch your back, take care of
you, and bring you back to your senses when you need it.

And when you're together, everything is better then any other time.
You can feel the love and joy from head to toe, drop all defenses and
pretenses, and finally find comfort and peace. =)

If you are able to each do your part of the chores, take care of the
other's needs, be willing to pick up the slack when the other is down,
and help them back up again, then you can be good together.

You need to both be honest and try to communicate to avoid problems
before they happen. You need to constantly be compromising with one
another to reach your goals. You need to try to bring out the best
qualities in the other, and help them feel complete.

You need to be strong enough to call each other out when you mess up,
so you can patch things up before they get blown out of control. You
need to love each other more than yourself, and protect them from
worry and doubt by behaving and acting with integrity. You need to
speak up when you're having a problem so they can step in and help you
out. And you need to appreciate each other. Recognise and praise them
for their efforts, and remind them to notice yours.

Marriage is a tempering, ongoing process. Like a fine sword that must
be heated, beaten, and reheated to create the many layers necessary to
forge a strong blade. The countless experiences, both good and bad,
that you hurtle together, will temper, forge, and strengthen your
foundation as a couple. =)

I love my husband so very much! We have overcome just about every
obstacle a couple can go through in our seven years together. We
aren't wealthy, but we have a comfortable little home, we've been
paying off our debt, and we have two beautiful little children. I am
very very blessed.

So, is it all everything I thought it would be?


It is, by far, better than I had ever imagined.

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