On marriage, on Valentine's Day.
Every year Valentine's Day is only two weeks after our wedding anniversary. Needless to say, these weeks are a time I think a lot about the marriage I am in and the man I love.
In only four years we have had many adventures together. I moved across the Atlantic - twice. My husband deployed to Afghanistan. And then again. And then again. There was traveling - a lot of it. We went through the struggles of infertility, our own IVF journey and 9 months of wonderful pregnancy. I birthed our first child with my love right next to me, holding me, the whole entire time.
I don't look at our marriage thinking "oh, we've only been married for four years", but rather with amazement about how many things can happen in a short few years and how wonderful it is to know, that we've successfully stepped over the pebbles and rocks that were thrown in our path. I'm proud of our accomplishments and certain of my love, yet, I'm not necessarily an optimist when it comes to marriage.
(Maybe) five years ago I had the very romantic notion, that you meet the man of your dreams, you wed, and then you live happily together and never separate, until, well - death. Older, wiser and actually somewhat marriage experienced I have a more realistic outlook. I have seen happy couples, with nothing obvious going against them, crumble under their own idea of freedom, perfection and image of what life should be like. Friends divorced completely unexpectedly. Marriages, that for decades have been seemingly calm and quiet like the surface of a summer lake all of a sudden crashed under a wave of deceit. Nothing, but particularly marriages, are never just black and white. There are so many shades of grey (no pun intended) behind every married couples doors. If I have learned one thing, it is that you don't know what is going on in a marriage, unless you are in it and even then you might be clueless.
Me and my husband were especially brave even tying the knot. Statistically speaking. 50% of all marriages in the U. S. end in divorce, or at least close to that. With two cultural backgrounds, two different languages and two completely different upbringings our chances for divorce are predicted to be even higher. Couples in the military (oh hey, that's us!) are divorcing more often. Also, couples that tie the knot before the age of twenty five do. Scary, as we were right on that edge. It is also said, that strongly religious marriages do better. Again, we are totally out of luck on this one. These are some really frightening odds.
I have two married sisters and my husband has two married brothers. According to these numbers, at least two of these couples will split up over time. I'd rather not think about it.
So, excuse me, if my outlook is rather pessimistic. I don't think however, that it is a disadvantage. Matter of factly, I believe, my scepticism is my secret marriage strategy. The moment you feel completely safe in your union, you are practically half way down to the courthouse. I believe, that only if you are aware of the impeding dangers, you will takes measures to prevent them.
I'm complicated. Easily stressed out, bad tempered, over emotional, easily and entirely absorbed by my creative projects, absolutely impatient. Trust me, I try to treat my marriage ever so tenderly. Some days I'm very successful with that, some days not so much.
Also, I need to be more forgiving when it comes to my partner. He is my friend and confidant, lover, bread winner, financial advisor, sous-chef, foot warmer and so many more things, all in one living soul. That is a lot of pressure.
He is also the father to my daughter. Mmm - parenthood! Surely, the most wonderful thing we ever hoped to experience one day, but definitely an adjustment for every marriage. If you are married with kids and don't agree, then I am fairly certain you are still in denial. We spent the last year of our marriage in constant state of fatigue. Truman, tired from his job. Me, tired from tending to baby all day. Both of us, tired from all the sleepless nights. Tired people, are not generally as nice as awake people. Let's leave it at that.
Before baby, couples have the luxury to channel all their love and attention around one another. Then, a large percentage of your emotional capacity goes to that wee being, that is so helpless and beautiful. This is were you have to remember, that your partner has needs too. We live away from family and so we can count our "dates" as a couple last year, on one hand. While in year one of Smilla's life, I was happy with that, as I am admittingly quite the attached mother hen; I definitely want to find a great babysitter now and have more outings for just the two of us. I mean, we still haven't seen the new DiCaprio movie and it is driving us nuts!
Today, herds of couples will flock to the movies, a countless numbers of roses will be given out all over the world, and tons of chocolates will be eaten. Single folk, will team up for "we don't care" parties, or hide under their blankets in misery. Critics of Valentine's will say that it is an uber love fest made big by corporations like Hallmark and that it shouldn't take a specific day to celebrate one's love for one another. True. Other's claim, that in the stress of day to day life we sometimes forget to honor our loved ones and that's why it is nice to have a whole day to dedicate to romantic notions, cheesy dates and the stuff for butterflies. Also true, really.
That brings me right back to the subject of marriage. The truth is, some days the butterflies are not around. Some days the communication is off. Some days the connection is just not there. And I think that is completely ok.
In the end of the day the beauty of marriage is the foundation of deep love, trust and respect for one another and that is why even on the days you want to wring each other's necks you don't actually do it. After all, life might just be total shit without each other.
So here it is then:
Marriage, not always a piece of cake. But a very sweet thing nonetheless.
What are your thoughts on marriage this Valentine's Day and in general? I would love to hear more. Write to me or comment below!
Also, if you are in the market for a real nice read on marriage I suggest you pick this one up.
Go on now and spend a lovely day with your man.