This past weekend, my wife and I celebrated our 11th anniversary. She planned the whole thing. My only responsibility was childcare for our 4-year-old son. Check. I was simply ecstatic because it wasn’t up to me to plan and execute a whirlwind weekend extravaganza designed to symbolically match my enthusiasm of another year of marriage (and not to mention character building).
This year, we were simply able to spend time together, enjoying some new and familiar things. BUT….things didn’t go as planned. It was perfect in its imperfection. Just like our marriage after 11 years.
Reflecting on our imperfect but joyous anniversary weekend, I was able to see parallel between it and our marriage. And in it, I discovered three major epiphanies about marriage that I’d like to share with you:
Marriage is for grown folk
This ain’t a game for the young minded. Choices, planning, execution, acceptance, forgiveness, communication, patience, finances, career, jobs, gas money, health insurance, kids, kids, more kids. These are grown issues. And they don’t even include the hardest skill to master—commitment. Once you realize by entering the marriage zone, your old selfish self can’t be allowed to win the war. Selfishness and service don’t reside in the same place for long. The young minded can’t see the long-term benefit of sacrifice and discipline. There’s a time and a place for everything, even the young mind. However, there comes a time when childish things need to be put away.
Hard times make the good ones even better, if you can get there
Marriages have a pulse. And they don’t stay stagnant. They bottom out and through mutual effort, gloriously rebound. It’s a game of stamina, and not everyone is cut out for it. But the valleys can hurl a couple into their highest peaks if the effort, respect and service is true.
Let’s be clear, you can’t live a lifetime with another human being and not have both good and bad years. Let me repeat that, years! But the cost of great years are terrible ones. The sooner both parties accept this, it will put them in a more powerful position in their marriage. And don’t simply expect bad days, months and years—embrace them. Because if handled properly, like an adult who truly gives a damn, then you know those bad times only mean you have a lot of good ones to look forward to.
Acceptance is the only answer at the end of the day
Marriage really comes down to two questions. One: do you accept this person as they are and everything they will be? And Two: do you accept who you are and everything you will be? If the answer is no to either one of these, you don’t need to be playing the game of marriage. Because after all the years, after all the battles and bickering, and after all the promises kept and broken, it comes down to the acceptance of another imperfect human being.
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Personally, I feel it’s why any of us seek out a spouse in the first place. It’s for the solace and security of feeling truly accepted for who we are. Especially flaws and all. And once again, this isn’t for everyone. Some people aren’t up for the challenge of personal growth. They have too many people to blame to focus on themselves.
So after 11 years, I can only hope the lessons I’ve learned are good enough to keep us going for another 11. By then, we’ll have new challenges to face, lessons to learn, laughs and tragedies to share to keep our union pushing forward. I’m up for the challenge, because I’m hoping for some terrible years to build the great ones on.
BMWK, have you had to endure rainy days in your marriage to appreciate the sunny days?