Growing up, I always knew marriage was “that” thing, where you stay with the person you love forever. You buy a house, raise some kids and wash a lot of dishes and laundry. You go camping on weekends and drink coffee together in the mornings. I knew that two people could fight, but they could also love each other forever. My parents have been incurable flirts with each other my whole life, and looking at them, I was sure I had this marriage thing all figured out. So 20 years ago, at the age of 18, I got married to my first husband.
What I didn’t know, and I mean really know, was that marriage was so much more than just love. It was also forgiveness. And letting go. And compassion, empathy, and selflessness. For 5 years, my first husband and I beat each other into the dirt, and we built our marriage on a foundation of hurt, bitterness, and even lies. So many lies, on both sides. In end when the dust settled, we divorced quietly with no lawyers, we never even met the judge. I wanted nothing from him except to move on, and he obliged.
I’m not going to say in the years that followed, “I found myself”. I’m not that deep. What happened was I worked. I made money, I made friends, I spent time with my family. I talked to God, I went to church, and I traveled. I wasn’t perfect and I didn’t live a perfect life, but I refused to carry bitterness with me.
Then, almost 10 years ago, I met this guy. He worked for a company that my company sourced from. We had corresponded by email for over a year, always professional, and I knew nothing of him except his name and his function, but then one day that changed. Our emails grew more personal, and I discovered he was a Christian like myself. Then he asked me out (a few times) and (eventually) I said yes. It was the best decision I ever made, and 8 years ago (on June 14), I traded my “yes” for “I do”.
Some people think that when you’ve been married before (he was married previously as well) that you have a greater chance for divorce a second time. In fact, when we were engaged, I was told this by at least two different people, who felt that divorced people should never remarry (I think at the time I thanked them for their opinion but assured them we knew what we were doing). I guess those people have a point, but really, don’t all couples go through those times when that decision sits on the table between them?
Since then, one of those women has come back to me to say that after watching us for 8 years, she really believes that we learned to bring only the best of ourselves into this marriage, and that’s why we work so well. I felt that was a pretty nice thing for her to say, and for me to hear!
I don’t think that being married for 8 years makes me an expert on marriage, but I can certainly be reflective – It still feels like yesterday, and yet we are so much closer, older, and believe it or not, happier!
Over these 8 years, we’ve built a home together. Adopted and raised a child together. And through all the big things, we’ve connected on micro-levels. We tell jokes to each other, and hold hands. He always opens my car door for me, and I always make sure his favourite beverages and snacks are stocked in the house. Sometimes we read the same book together, but other times he’ll just let me go on for an hour about a book I read and loved. I watch his baseball games, wash his uniforms and have hand-sewn many patches and tears over the years in his baseball pants and batting gloves; But he’s encouraged me through every one of my wild-yeast experiments in the kitchen, even the one that made the kitchen smell a little. I don’t say he’s my best friend because we’re married, I say it because he just IS.
It’s not like any marriage is easy, because life itself isn’t easy. We don’t place any expectations on each other to keep the storms away, we just know that when the storm hits, we are stronger by standing together. (Haha, that sounds like a poster!) For us, no matter how much we communicate, forgive and empathize, we will always still have to account for third-party drama, but I think everyone has that. We’ve just learned in life that you can’t feel responsible for the bitterness that others carry, some people just like to wrap themselves in it like it’s their security blanket.
I personally can’t wait to see what the next 8 years will look like, maybe even the next 40! Maybe we’ll live to be so old that we can celebrate 50 years together, that would be amazing, except for the being old part. All I know is that I’d still marry him all over again, in a heartbeat, because he’s just the best, and I don’t even want to know what life would be like without him <3.