My husband and I differ when it comes to our wedding anniversary. Each year I check off the year as if in wonderment that we have arrived here. It is both with gleeful surprise and satisfaction that I can say that we've scaled another year together as husband and wife. I feel victorious. As if we entered an obstacle course race 14 years ago, and we continue to be in it, not giving up on the hurdles.
E looks at things differently. He assumes that we have gotten through another year, and he assumes that we will get through all the years that lay ahead. Why? Because, of course we will. As he says, he didn't marry me with an out clause. I love this about E. It is what I need. He is the solid oak that I can lean against. It helps during the challenging times. Even when I can't see straight, I know that he is not going to sneak out the back door.
Actually...we're not a back door couple. Ahem...We lean toward the dramatic, both being very passionate people. If there is a door to go out of, it will be the front door and the exit will not be quiet. Fortunately, we do not fight often. However, the challenge for both of us is to remember that we have two small children listening to every word we say, and...perhaps most importantly, to communicate to our children that grown-ups do argue, but it doesn't mean that we don't love each other or that we are headed for divorce.
These days, 14 years is no small feat. Especially when there is the continual journey of discovering who we are as individuals - which can redefine how we are in our relationship to each other. As I look around and see so many of my friends' marriages in crisis, I know that these issues - of balancing children, careers, financial stability, and mid-life awakenings, are all valid reasons for dividing couples. Or opportunities for growth, if you're lucky enough to be with the right person. But, growth is hard. And, messy. No one gets out clean.
My parents divorced after 17 years. I never remember them fighting. Suddenly our family exploded, and life was never the same. Perhaps there were signs, but as a young teen, I didn't see them. Now, as an adult, I can understand much more of what challenges my parents faced. I will always be sad that they divorced. Yet...I think it was the right decision for them. And the richness that my step-parents have brought to my life is full and deep.
Some marriages make it and some don't. I haven't quite gotten to the place where my husband is. That assumption that we will be together for the duration - soaring and plummeting as the cycle of marriage always does. But, I like to think that I'm closer to being a solid oak for him. Because, every marriage needs two oaks - growing separately, yet letting their branches intertwine and soar toward the sky...