I’ve always loved weddings. Even as a little girl, I can remember attending weddings and feeling excitement and hope. I’ve always been a romantic; always wanting love to prevail and overcome all obstacles. As a little girl, those obstacles usually took shape in my mind as angry imaginary step-mothers, relatively harmless yet hostile kidnappers or warring kingdoms. The wedding always sat at the other side of the obstacles like a finish line. After the couple had fought valiantly for their love and conquered all of life’s difficulties they are rewarded with a wedding. In my young mind real struggles didn’t exist after arriving at the finish line/wedding. Here is where all of us married people laugh till we pee at the absurdity of my childhood illusion.
I entered my marriage with an entirely distorted view of how life might look post-wedding. I married an incredible person. Adam is kind, generous, thoughtful, fun and a constant gentleman. Our wedding was amazing. There were some beautiful similarities between this weekend’s wedding and my own, including a very young bride.
When I got married at the under-ripe age of 22, I was still unaware of which of my experiences had burrowed themselves into my heart leaving a hole. I was remarkably unaware of the pain that I carried. I didn’t know that I was a terrible communicator, completely passive aggressive and a bit manipulative. I didn’t know that I was broken inside and that marriage wouldn’t fill my emptiness. I was blissfully oblivious.
Our life together started out like a fairy-tale in certain ways. We traveled the world and lived in unique places. We had adventures and each other. Then, just after our first anniversary we found out I was pregnant. It was a huge surprise. My 4 year plan was reduced to 1 over night. I say “my” 4 year plan because truly it was mine. Adam was always happy with life in random without structure or plan; a constant adventurer. For me, motherhood brought with it a storm; a storm of emotions and self realizations that I didn’t understand and had no context for. All the questioning and self doubt brought me constant guilt and depression.
I’ll spare you the nail biting suspense and reveal that we didn't just survive, but we're strong. We’re not perfect nor are we beyond all our potential hurdles, but we have a real love story. Not a fairy-tale but reality, where our wedding was the mere starting line and then came the hurdles. Truthfully, there were times I was so tired and empty that I didn’t feel like fighting for us. But when I lacked the strength, Adam found it. My marriage has been a journey. I’d share it all, but I might fill up a year’s worth of posts. For now I give you the short and tidied up version.
This weekend's wedding made me realize that it’s not all romance and bliss for me anymore as I watch a stunning bride walk down the aisle. I have a sober understanding of what a meaningful marriage requires of a person; of what my precious marriage has required of me. As I look back, I can declare with certainty that the pain and struggle was all worth it for where we are today!
So as I watched that young bride, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was more grown up (on the inside) than I was. I wondered if she’d taken a deep look inside and sifted the unhealthy from the healthy in her life. I wondered if that bride and groom will travel down a road similar to ours as they “grow-up” together. Yes, all these thoughts are a bit of a wedding downer, but it's true marriage beyond a wedding.
Here's a peek into my healed up marriage plus kids: this weekend my husband and I stepped out onto the dance floor and got exactly 30 seconds and 2 kisses into our own romantic moment before being interrupted by our 2 youngest daughters. Two became four. It wasn't ideal but it was fun. Sometimes Adam and I have lovely pieces of time to ourselves, but for the most part our romance has had to evolve. It’s taken the shape of long kisses stolen in the midst of dish washing as kids play loudly around us. I love feeling noticed by my husband in the midst of our chaos. It's in these moments when our daughter Sofia will shout, “family kiss!”, which means that instead a normal 2 person kiss we must now try to squeeze our whole family’s worth of lips into a circular kiss so that no one is left out. The number of people included in our romantic moments has changed a bit. No, there are no extra adults, just little people looking to share in our love.