When I was newly engaged, I had these couple-friends who had been married for five years. I remember thinking five years was so long. In fact, for Valentine's that year, we had actually tried to organize a Newlyweds Game, but it never came to anything. I was kind of glad too, because I thought people who'd been married for five years were totally not newlyweds.
And I was also glad it never happened, because Scott was in Scotland, and so we wouldn't have gotten to play.
Then before I knew it, WE had been married for five years. We had two children by then, but I by then I kind of realized 'Whoa, five years is NOT a long time.'
It's been four more years since then, and in those four years, I've seen so many marriages fall apart or crack up, and so many marriages stick together, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
And that's where I got really stumped. How can marriages that stick together actually be a bad thing? Surely anyone who stays in a marriage through the bad stuff is doing a really great job?
Oh, the innocence of being raised in a totally Christian home where 'bad' stuff in marriage is like, disagreeing about stuff. Things like abuse and adultery seemed like things that happen only every once in a while.
My, what I have learned in the past several years...
This week, on Wednesday, Scott and I celebrated our nine-year-anniversary. We are just getting re-established here in America, so going out on a fancy anniversary weekend just wasn't on the cards. So on the night of our anniversary, I hosted a Pampered Chef party, and Scott played ping-pong with the neighbors.
Romantic, isn't it?
That's not to say the romance is gone though; not even at all. In fact, I started writing several posts several times this week about how happy Scott and I are even to this day, and how much I love him more now than I ever loved him before and how he still makes me feel safe and secure and beautiful... but something kept stopping me.
I realized it was something like sensitivity.
You see, there are a lot of posts out there by people who love and love and love their spouses, and that's awesome! Because there are a lot out there about how people DON'T love their spouses any more and about how marriage is a failing institution, and all that. There is a lot of negativity about marriage, so yay for the people who speak out about its successes!
But you see, I know too many people who are currently going through NOT so good marriages, and I suddenly felt that bragging about mine might come across as insensitive. Maybe not, maybe it would be an encouragement to someone. But I couldn't help feeling like it wasn't the right thing to do, not right now.
I might be wrong. Maybe I need to add to that collection of Happy Marriage Web Literature, because I certainly am happy, even if working and playing ping-pong on our anniversary night doesn't imply it. It's just that, I've learned that marriage isn't what I thought it was when I was young and naive.
It's not something everyone can stay in.
It's not something everyone SHOULD stay in.
I struggled with this so much from a religious standpoint... after all the Bible says DON'T GET DIVORCED so DON'T GET DIVORCED, right? But when you start to see marriages in real life, ones that are broken from deep down in the inside, how can a strict one-size-fits-all rule apply?
I think that can be answered religiously too. We are in a fallen world that has broken something that was intended to be good. The Gold Standard of 'Til Death Do Us Part' has been tarnished by just how fallen this world is. Physical and emotional abuse, manipulation, cheating - the big ones - and certainly 'smaller' things that are harder to put your finger on, can scratch and tear from the outside or can eat away from the inside something that is supposed to be good and beautiful and can destroy it beyond repair. That's the reality of it. The sad, painful, non-churchy reality of it.
Scott and I say the only reason we are still in love is because of a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. We still have a long way to go. Nine years, though it's actually longer than a lot of relationships last, isn't a very long time. We have a lot more work ahead of us, and need a lot more luck to go along with it. I can tell you how much we love each other and enjoy each other and laugh together, and it would all be true. Yet it would be glossing over the fact that it has taken - and will continue to take - a lot of self-sacrifice, a lot of tears, a lot of giving up of our own wants, and a lot of self-reflection to get us where we currently are. We have to work at this love thing... and we are lucky that we still click, and that we don't have any psychological issues that could come between us, like violence or depression.
I recognize this is probably a real downer of a 'Happy Anniversary, Honey!' post. I just feel like it should be said that sometimes life doesn't work out the way you plan. You can put in all the hard work, but sometimes, what's missing is luck. And that's not your fault. I know this isn't the 'right' answer, but in my heart, I think it needs to be acknowledged.
(But since I'd be remiss if I didn't say SOMETHING to build my good man up, I'll end with a positive note - Scott, you are still my world, my rock, my best friend, my handsome stud and an incredible pain in the ass. Here's to a gazillion more years, darling! I love you.)