You've heard the cliche phrases like "ball and chain" that refer to marital relationships in a derogatory way, as if marriage is the end of the excitement and fulfillment that comes at the beginning of a relationship. And sadly, there are unhealthy marriages everywhere, but I'm tired of hearing people talk about their marriages negatively. I want to celebrate the fact that I got to choose the person I wanted to marry freely, that I get to love him and create a life with him until death.
I can't talk about why I love being married without talking about my husband, Stephen. He is a light to everyone he meets. His eyes truly carry otherworldly joy. He is a Renaissance man in his own rite. Though we are very similar in the way we see the world, and we are inspired by similar things, our differences complement each other. He's the go-getter, try-anything, do-everything, mega leader. He knows how to motivate me without pushing me too far. He is the most understanding, generous, forgiving person that I have ever met. And I am relatively stubborn, over-analytical, and a perfectionist, so his work is cut out for him as we live our lives as a team.
And that's just it: we are a team. From day one of our relationship, we have been living every moment of our marriage as a cohesive duo. My strengths complement his weaknesses and vice versa. And on the days that we are brooding messes, we have to have humble accountability, listen, and encourage each other out of the funk. It's not always easy, and neither of us are perfect at it. We have the rest of our lives to work at perfecting the art of a completely balanced relationship, but the work we do on a daily basis is helping us both crack through our hard shells of habit, and grow into our most authentic selves.
There was one big implosion we dealt with about 2 years ago, and the thing that got us through it was our belief that we our relationship is more important to us than "being right" or having the last word. We had to reign everything in, re-analyze our communication, and gather some new communication tools. We read a lot. We talked a lot. We fought a lot. But we got through it. I know that most couples who are weary of marriage fear that. And I want to tell you that you have to promise each other you'll never give up, no matter what happens; whether you've been together 5 months or 50 years.
There was a wonderful family we met through the Air Force, years back. They had about 10 years on us, 3 kids, and a lot of wisdom. I'll never forget one evening while we were there for dinner. The Mrs. and I were cooking and prepping in the kitchen, and she stopped. She looked at me and said, "Nicole, you have to know that one day this is going to get hard. My husband and I were so naive when we first got married; we never could imagine arguing or feeling like things were broken, but we promised each other that if that ever happened, we would get the help we needed. And wouldn't you know, years later things got so bad we thought about divorce; and because of that promise we sought help. It saved our marriage. It saved our lives." I nodded, so naive myself, not able to imagine a fight (or series of fights) so big that it would make me even think the word divorce, so that night when we got home I told Stephen the whole story. We promised that night that we would get the help we needed, if we needed it. That was some of the best marriage advice I have ever received, and it helped not only get through the rough spot, but it made us better and more connected than we have ever been before.
Here's the thing, married couples are guaranteed to screw up, to say things that hurt, to make mistakes, and to go through low points just like anything else, but that happens while dating too. When you're married to the one you love, no matter how what the difficulty is, you have a lifelong partner to navigate with. My marriage has been the greatest blessing in my life, and with marriage came more blessings that I could never have imagined, like having our daughter, and so much more. Every time I see an old couple holding hands my heart compresses a bit, and my chest feels heavy with appreciation for their devotion. How beautiful to create a life together, fight, grow, and see the world with your best friend and lover? Growing old with someone is a privilege, and I thank God every day for giving me unconditional love not only from an incredible man, but from our little girl.
Are you married? Why do you love about it, and what has been difficult? I feel like we can all relate. I always love to see your comments and notes; they make my day.