Today, Alan and I hit our 16th year mark in our marriage! We consider it a milestone! 🙂
I’m still a bit jet lagged from Switzerland, so I woke up at 5am this morning. In the past, when we were still co-sleeping with Bridgette, there would be many mornings where I would wake up early and just stare at her angelic sleeping face next to mine, watching the steady rhythm of her breathing and feeling like the luckiest person in the world to be her mama. This morning, at 5am, I found myself staring into Alan’s sleeping face, and while I can’t quite describe his face as angelic like our baby daughter, I felt a surge of overwhelming love and gratitude for this man whom I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with 16 years ago.
Having been a Wedding Planner for so many years, I have seen my fair share of couples fretting about the details of their wedding leading up to the Big Day. The importance of the day is magnified, as it was for myself 16 years ago, as if any small mishap at the wedding would somehow destroy the marriage ahead. If I could go back in time and comfort my younger, 25 year old self, I would say that getting to the altar is actually the easiest part. The real work starts once the honeymoon is over, when we are faced with the realities of having to live out our vow commitments to one another.
Marriage is such a roller coaster ride, especially the first 10 years. Learning to live with someone else and doing life with them day in and day out is anything but easy. Add on the stress of parenthood, career changes, moves, family dynamics, and there are honestly days when it may feel easier to just call it quits. I think what has sustained our marriage all these years though, is our shared goal of wanting a marriage that is beyond just a marriage certificate and a ring. Alan and I both sincerely wanted a marriage that can grow stronger year by year, that can weather through the toughest storms, and that can bring both of us immense joy. This type of marriage does not come easily, we quickly found out in our first year as husband and wife. It’s much easier to sweep problems under the carpet, to have a wandering eye and heart to compensate what’s missing in our marriage, or to find a scapegoat. But, we decided very early on that a happy, healthy, lifelong marriage is worth the investment of our time and efforts, and I think it is this core belief that has helped our relationship remain steadfast even through the hardest times.
It’s easy to be fixated on what a person is lacking, especially when it affects you personally. What I’ve learned, though, is that we can nag and argue all we want, but changing another person is nearly impossible. We can only shift our own perspectives, and choose to focus on the good of the other person, while offering a lot of grace to them. I can choose to be frustrated with Alan every time he forgets his wallet and keys, or I can choose to remind him before we leave the house. I can choose to be upset that he is on his phone during dinner time, or I can choose to appreciate how he still genuinely thanks me every night for cooking. I can choose to be worried about his time on the race track with his motorcycle, or I can choose to admire his passion for this sport. I can choose to resent his long working hours, or I can choose to be grateful for how hard he works for our family, and how he still remembers to kiss me good bye every single morning. I think this realization has brought me a lot more joy in our every day life, because it helps me to recognize all that I have to be grateful for. Obviously though, I am still human and I have not perfected this state of mind every single minute yet, but we’re all a work-in-progress, so I will just have to keep working at it!
With each wedding anniversary, it’s fun to reflect on our journey together and laugh about some of the trivial things we fought about. And with each passing year, we learn to love and support each other in new ways. I am grateful for the many ways that our relationship has evolved, and feel assured that while the road ahead may continue to have roadblocks, our commitment to our marriage can help us through all hardships.
Today, as Bridgette watched me get ready for my date night with Alan, she says to me, “Mommy, I hope to marry someone who will love me the way daddy loves you.” And to that, let me just say…thank you Alan, for modeling to our daughter and to me what unconditional, selfless, grace-filled love is like, every single day.