Today marks nineteen years of marriage for my husband and I. Nineteen years! When I write it out it amazes me. I’ve spent almost half my life with this man. We’ve been through so much together… birth, death, pregnancy, surgeries, depression, degrees, religions, new jobs and businesses, cars, apartments, houses, moves across country and world, travel, hobbies, parenting… I could go on and on. Nineteen years worth of on and on. We’ve been companion, witness, friend and counselor to each other.
It hasn’t always been easy. I sometimes wonder how we’ve made it this far when I look back at the big struggles we’ve had along the way. Marriage is not an easy Saturday afternoon walk in the park. It’s not what the romance novels and fairy tells would lead you to believe. They end at the “happily ever after” part, but “happily ever after” is really where the work begins. Marriage takes compromise and commitment and choice. It takes patience and forgiveness and humility. Recently I heard marriage described as a “crucible for personal growth” and recognized this for truth. It is. You tie your life to a completely separate person and then you progress through the years as you both change and grow. How can you expect to NOT struggle once in a while? Could you ever expect to see completely see eye-to-eye with someone else over a period of nineteen years? I don’t think so.
This weekend I saw a wonderful performance troupe and captured the dancers on the rings and ropes. This man and woman shared an intricate and beautiful performance of a love story. They made it look graceful, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy. It was the practice and commitment they both shared that made the act seem effortless. How many hours and hours did they spend in rehearsal, for this one performance?
Marriage is like that. It’s a dance we must practice and practice with our partner. We make mistakes. We fall. We fight. We pick up where we left off and try again. And sometimes we discover we can glide effortlessly through a performance. We are in synch and beautiful to watch. There it is, the “happily ever after” part. Where things go smoothly and life is filled with joy. When we reach that, guess what? We’re not done. It’s time to learn the next dance, because we are always changing and growing.
Nineteen years worth of changing and growing. We were so young when we got married, it feels like we’ve grown up together. We’ve grown up separately, too. We are both such different people than we were on this day nineteen years ago. Life has changed us. Life together has changed us. We are who we are today, in part because of each other.
I hope we’ll be graced with nineteen more years of the real-life version of “happily ever after.” We’re just starting to get it figured out, for this dance anyway.
Happy Anniversary, Patrick.