While sifting through my old journals, cards and letters trying to find correspondence with my oma that recently passed away, I came across the journal that contained the dating journey for Gary and I. Over the next hour, I read two years worth of messy feelings out loud to him (just the parts that related to him–I wrote a lot). He had never heard half of the vulnerable thoughts that I had and now I felt comfortable sharing them over 12 years later.
We did not have a magical love at first sight meeting or an easy courtship. I did, however, state within one week of dating him (the first time) that we would get married and I had never said that before. Through the dating and break ups, we had to really work through what was important and what we wanted out of our relationship. Fortunately, once we had both figured out that we truly did want to spend our lives together, we put more effort into it and have continued to be intentional about our commitment. To be honest, in the beginning our marriage was "easy" even with the loss of my mom, buying a new home and having a newborn. We didn't have the stereotypical rough first year or two that I had heard about. Maybe this marriage thing would be much easier than we thought?
We were not immune to the hardship of marriage as it has not been smooth sailing. We have had several rough years of the eleven and many days and weeks since then. In that time (mostly around year eight) we could have just existed together and co-parented. We could have been roommates and teammates. But that was just "fine" and I'm not comfortable with fine for long. As Shauna Niequiest says in Present Over Perfect: "Brave is being intentional about taking your marriage from "fine" to "can't live without you." Because fine is not fine at all. Fine is like a mesh sieve, enough space for all the important things to slip through, and all you're left with is to-do lists and resentments (pg. 126). Did you hear that part about the sieve? About what you are left with?
It takes work every single day to make our marriage a good one. I appreciate how much we have each grown in our knowledge and understanding of each other, our relationship, and parenting. There are times where we disagree and I really do not want to spend an hour or more working through it–especially at the end of a long day, but it's worth it because every time we end up closer after going through the hard part of being angry, vulnerable and gracious.
I can only imagine the growth that is still ahead of us but I know that it's worth it. I want him to continue to be a priority and I want to enjoy being with him. Gary has shared some of his thoughts here and I'm curious what our advice would be in 10 more years from now! For now, we continue to spend quality time together and work on all that good communication stuff–especially in the midst of a busy season.
I'd encourage you to consider where your relationship is at on the "fine" to "can't live without you" scale; it's worth the effort! Thoughts?