Well, D and I have passed the first major checkpoint in our marriage: the first wedding anniversary. One year down. Hopefully many more to go!
All I can say is…uffda. We learned a lot.
We dealt with a lot of loss this year – pets, jobs, cars. We were able to deal with them all and get through them all because really, in the grand scheme of things, couples go through much worse. But there were still quite a few times when we wondered if the maiden voyage out on the marriage wagon was supposed to be this bumpy…
We spent much of our anniversary day meandering around the countryside taking in the beautiful array of fall colors that are peaking on the trees. We indulged in a laid back brunch at our favorite Sunday establishment, Ella Marie’s, then wandered over to a local pumpkin patch and wound our way through their corn maze. Our plan was to head back to town to make our dinner reservation at the restaurant we had gotten engaged at. We thought it would make the start of a nice tradition.
And then the car started leaking/burning oil. A lot.
So we hightailed it back home before my irrational thinking had enough time to convince me that the car was going to start on fire. Poor D set to work right away trying to fix our good-buy-not-so-good-buy of a Jeep so he had a vehicle to get to work the next day. There went dinner plans.
I sheepishly realized that, a year ago, I may have spent the rest of the night sulking and mulling over our misfortune. But in marriage, you
start need to learn to be flexible and make do when need be. So I secretly ordered a pizza, ran into town to pick it up, and set up a candlelit living room picnic dinner for two (though I would have had D at pizza). We had decided to save any notes that we wrote each other over the course of the year (good, bad, and in between), and thought it would be neat to pull them out at our first anniversary and read through them again, so we did, along with letters we had written each other that day. It was kind of fun and quite a mind opener really, to see what we had focused on, how we had chosen to handle different arguments we had had, and in what way and how often we expressed our gratitude and love to each other.
One of the biggest take home points I learned about marriage this year: being “in love” is not going to be enough to have a good and successful marriage. One of my favorite quotes (well, it’s a set of lyrics actually) that help keep me grounded when things get a little rough is from the song Something that We Do, co-written and sung by Clint Black.
“Love’s not just something that we’re in, it’s something that we do”
A lot of people say that marriage has to be worked at every single day, and this is absolutely right. Love is obviously the key ingredient, however, commitment is the glue that holds it all together. Commitment to compromise, commitment to say “I’m sorry”, commitment to work out arguments, commitment to take the bad along with the good, commitment to be both a cheerleader and a shoulder to cry on, commitment to be faithful to your person. It doesn’t matter how compatible you are with your significant other on paper or reality, whether you are two peas in a pod or a ying and a yang, whether your spouse is your soul mate or your best friend. If you can’t be fully, all-in committed – even on the days when life is tearing you in twenty different directions – your marriage will crumble. It may be all at once or bit by bit, but it will not withstand the chaos of the world that is beating against it.
Of course, the act of staying committed can be hard work; it’s not always fun and it can be quite grueling some days. But at the end of it all will stand a beautiful partnership. And this can be one of the most rewarding things in life.
As we start onto year two, I look to focus on being a better partner and friend to my husband, to be more selfless for him, and to make sure he hears words of affection and affirmation more than words of criticism or anger. I don’t expect we’ll get any more of a free pass this year than we did last year, but at least we now have some practice runs under our belt. And we’re still in this together.