My husband and I are celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary today and if I could give any advice to a couple just starting out it would be simply this.
Marriage is hard and you need to work at it, always”.
I love my husband deeply but my goodness at times I could have easily walked away from our marriage. I write ‘easily’ because at times walking away would really have been the easiest option.
I do pray that no other couple ever has to face what we have in our 21 years. The loss of our children nearly destroyed us and we had to make a conscious decision to work through our pain and grief together. To find a place where we could internalise and externalise our heartache. I use the term “conscious decision” because that’s actually what it had to be. We had to consciously think of each other when we we could barely deal with ourselves. It would have been so easy to allow ourselves to be consumed by our pain and to be honest it was blooming exhausting to find the strength to acknowledge each other’s.
21 years is a long time and both of us are far from the people we were at the beginning. We have grown in so many ways and often in different ones. We have again had to work on ‘us’ not to get lost in our separate interests or lives. To celebrate our individualities whilst working and enjoying our common interests. We are so different! . From when we first met we seemed like chalk and cheese but Alan allows me to be who I really am. He has encouraged me to develop and grow. I truly believe my marriage saved me, but that’s a whole other story. I admire him greatly and I love him deeply but our marriage does still need work.
One of the first learning curves we had to face was learning our style of love. If you have heard of the “love languages” concept you will know that we all express love in different ways. Some use words, some enjoy time together, others like to do jobs to show their love, whilst others give gifts.
I am a wordy person but words are not my love language I just loved spending time with Alan and could never really understand why he wanted to be apart (clingy much). I just enjoyed his company, his opinions and his attention. The fact that he worked so many hours made the time together special. Alan on the other hand is a doer, he would want to show his love in DIY, cleaning the house anything that he thought would make my life as a Mom easier. We used to and still do clash a lot over this but we have found a place that works for both of us.
And that’s what marriage is “A place for both of you”.
A place where two separates become whole.
But I do truly wish someone had told me 21 years ago that marriage doesn’t come easy. That two individuals even those madly in love aren’t always going to agree on things. Aren’t always going to enjoy the same things or want the same things. How marriage needs to be a dance of giving and taking. Of mutual respect and of trying to see another’s point of view.
It’s a work in progress but a wonderful, exciting, rewarding one.
Thank you Alan for the last 21 years and here’s too many more.
Our work in progress.