Our fourteenth year of marriage has been better than our eleventh. I’m pretty sure our ninth wasn’t great, but can’t remember completely. The early ones are hard to recall, but I’m pretty sure our second was superb. The fourth was one of the worst, but it marks the beginning of something that was enduring and likely helped us survive year eleven. The eight and tenth were incredible. All this to say, marriage has its ups and downs.
As much as I would like to say that are happiest years were the best in our marriage (they were the ones filled with the most joy and fun), I think the hardest ones proved to be those that cemented our bond and reminded me that I don’t care to walk this life with anybody else by my side.
When we attended pre-marriage counseling, the pastor asked us who was the net giver in the relationship and who was the net taker? We immediately and independently agreed that he was the net giver and I was the net taker. The pastor explained that in marriage, it is never equally divided. Ironically, when we polled our friends about who they thought played each role, it was unanimous in the opposite direction. From the outside, I can see why they believed that to be true, but the inner-workings of our marriage told a different story.
I’m not even a little ashamed to admit that I’m the net taker. My husband is my cornerstone. He is the one that I go to with everything that is on my mind. I give him credit for the solid foundation of our marriage in that he makes me feel secure. Sturdiness isn’t romantic, but it is durable and lasting, like our marriage. He builds me up and helps me be the best version of myself.
The reason I’m not ashamed of being the taker, is that I’m pretty accepting of taking what comes my way. I draw the line at 20 magazines a month (and saving them… my goodness, people, the saving), which lasted less than one year of our marriage, but I’ve taken on a lot to support him in his dreams. After 15 complete professional sports season, I maintain that a husband who loves his job is the best thing for a marriage. This was a key learning in the fourth year of our marriage. We both found ourselves working for companies that were up for sale and uncertain of what the future held. It was the first time I uttered the words, “We will figure this out (financially), but it is most important that you are doing something that makes you happy.”
It was in our fourth year, that we learned marriages have seasons. That year was a very cold winter. Daily darkness came early and stayed late, while the light was fleeting and sometimes the sun didn’t shine for days. It is the times you endure and search the cellar of your soul to find what was put away for a future day as a reminder and taste of what was once fresh and new. You think about what brought you together in the first place, because that is what gets you through each day. A sustenance of sorts.
Thankfully spring follows the winter. It is a time of hope and anticipation. Our springs have been spent dreaming of the future together and sharing a vision. Spring keeps things in perspective, because you know you have a half-century to go and soggy washcloths on the kitchen sink that begin to smell of mildew really don’t matter all that much (unless one is feeling cranky.) Spring is for incubating babies and nurturing new beginnings.
Summer is where we spent most of our first years. Sunny, wild, and carefree. It is the season where I’m warmed by the gratitude for all that we have together. A time when I’m most likely to say that we were lucky to find each other, because summer is easy. I truth, I know that we are lucky and have worked hard staying true to the mutual respect that we share and finding compromise in all that we do. Summer is lying in hammocks and taking lazy afternoon naps on vacation. It is contentment in each other. The season is cut short by having small children, but still comes in small spurts. Maybe it evolves into something different, but still summery.
Fall is the season of putting things by. It’s the time when you argue about things that matter. You spend your energy guarding against the cold that threatens to seep in the cracks of your home by resolving the unresolved. For me, it is a time of lowering my expectations. Reminding myself that no marriage or person is perfect and my desire for such unattainable goals makes me an ungrateful nightmare to be around. It is a season marked by maintenance and preparation… labor and tears.
Today we celebrate… being better than before, beauty that bloomed from our marriage, survival of the darkness, forgiveness of hurts, triumphs of accomplishment, and that we did it all together. It’s hard to believe we aren’t even 20% of the way to our goal of 75 years together, but we are getting close. Next year…