I think that one of the best indicators of success in marriage is staying married, in choosing to stay married every day, every month, every year.
Marriage is so much more than it seems at the outset. It is taking on another person’s life and making it your own. It is melding their fears, aspirations, anxieties, travails, personality flaws, strengths, screw-ups, careers, tastes, preferences, foibles, health, beliefs, values, and talents with your own. It is accepting and embracing their differences on a level you had never experienced before marriage and then finding a way to work with those differences so that they are not roadblocks on your journey. Before marriage, you might know that it is work, but you don’t understand. Much like you might know that you will love your children, but you can’t possibly understand what it is like to live that love every moment of every day.
And the love between spouses, when they choose to continue to be married every day, month, and year, is like that, too. So much so that you would give your life for them, that you give your life to them every day, month, and year. You do, truly, compromise to meet their needs, much as they compromise to meet yours.
And it’s more than choosing brands of toothpaste or choosing to use separate showers (we do); it’s supporting someone else 100% even if you might do things differently if you were in that situation. It’s choosing to take on roles that you might never have imagined for yourself because the situation demands it.
It is choosing to put your needs second to the needs of the unit.
Tony and I have been a unit for six years on Saturday. I am a different person than that girl who married that guy six years ago. Tony is a different person, too. But if someone asked me today if I would marry Tony, the Tony he is right now, again on Saturday, I would wholeheartedly say yes. The decision to join our lives six years ago was not one I made lightly, and it was absolutely the right decision at the time. Recommitting myself to that marriage every day has also been, without doubt, the right decision.
And I plan to make that decision again and again for the rest of my life.
Oh, doesn’t that sound romantic? But in choosing Tony, and in choosing him as he is, right now, I am choosing to move ahead with him – it’s not so much romantic as a heavily weighed decision. I am choosing to take a swing at life’s curveballs with him. I am choosing to keep him as my partner and make whatever changes are necessary to keep our marriage intact. I love him dearly, and I am choosing to continue to grow that love, rather than try to live on the love of yesterday.
I wouldn’t mind fitting into that dress again, however.
Fortunately for me and for Tony, the work of marriage and choosing to stay married has rewards. There is the reward inherent in hard work, of being proud that we have worked through every problem and made those compromises to stay together, as well as the rewards of growing close, of having a true best friend, of knowing someone so intimately that your humor and their humor intertwine, of being companions, true companions, who can make any situation, if not good, at least tolerable. Let’s face it: life sucks sometimes, and a good marriage means that someone is always in your corner, ready to work through things with you.
And tomorrow night, we’ll celebrate our love the only way we can at this point in our lives: a brief dinner out with the baby in tow, then putting our kids to bed and watching a movie. Unless Tony has schoolwork to do for his master’s program, in which case, he’ll do that and I’ll read. Do you pity us because we aren’t having a grand anniversary night out? Don’t, please. We have built a fabulous life together with two wonderful children and an exasperating, yet lovable, dog. We are so happy right here, doing something low-key. Maybe we’ll get a bit more crazy next year when the infant has turned into a boy.
My dear Tony, thank you. Thank you for re-marrying me every single day. I love you.