Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Big Seven

Today marks my 7th year of marriage.  

Whenever I read or hear that someone has been married 20 years or more my heart jumps a little.  I don't know how people do it.  I mean, I know how people do it: one day at a time, one week at a time, one month a time, one year at a time.  But it's daunting to think of such a long span of time.  And it really doesn't help that I don't personally know a couple that has been together that long or, rather, been together that long happily.  That's really scary.  Really, really scary. 

I so wish I did have that example.  I wish I did have someone who has been there, done that, to talk to.  A person who I could fully trust, who could empathize and offer sound, balanced advice.  What I find is that I have to protect and safeguard my marriage.  I have to keep things very private because people don't understand.  They don't have the experience to understand.  And they don't get that I don't want them to be on "my" side.  So I end up not talking much about issues in my marriage that are bothering me or that are problematic or that I can't see a solution to.  Except for sometimes when I post on a message board.  But that always seems . . . impersonal and you can never convey fully what the situation entails and exactly how everyone feels.  Plus, it's a whole bunch of strangers who don't know you anyway.

So on my 7th anniversary, I have to acknowledge that marriage is perhaps the most difficult thing I've ever done.  It's bittersweet.  On the one hand, we made it!  And we made it through a whole lot of nonsense and obstacles at that!  And we have a good, solid happy marriage and we still fundamentally like each other and genuinely love each other.  On the other, I get weary sometimes and wonder how to keep making it.  I struggle sometimes with the feeling that I sacrificed my 20s at the altar of marriage thinking it was an alternative, and obvious/wise choice and an investment.  But I can't always gauge the return or if there will be one.  I hope so though.  I believe so.

I'm not the happiest I could possibly be but I'm not the most miserable.  I'm pretty happy.  And I am honest with myself in saying that my marriage is not what is keeping me from being totally and completely happy.  Whatever that means (what it means to be happy and how to be happy is the subject of many a book . . . no one seems to really know the answer).

I feel fortunate to have found this book though: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I'm getting through it slowly, reading from it for five minutes daily at my altar.  I've already gained a lot of insight.  I hope more useful resources like this keep coming my way because in my heart of hearts, I want to make it to 20 years and much, much further.  


Anonymous said...

First of all, CONGRATS! Not only is 7 one of my favorite numbers (got married on 7/7/07 myself :) ) but that is an accomplishment in itself because marriage *is* hard. It's also rewarding but it requires work that no one prepared me for because, like you, I have zero examples.

I don't have any answers or advice except to say that I totally get where you're coming from and I wish you nothing but the best.

Tami said...

I just wanted to say that this is a startlingly honest and beautiful post. I wish you and yours all the best. And Happy Anniversary!

(My husband and I celebrate the big 1-0 this summer.)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on reaching this milestone.

Indeed, marriage is a hard thing. I appreciate the honesty of this post. I understand what you mean about keeping things private because people don't understand. I was thinking about how marriage advice is freely dispensed but the only people who can truly understand a marriage are the ones in it.

I'm also about to start reading The Five Love Languages. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

Blackgirlinmaine said...

Congratulations! I have only been married 13 years and with the mister 15 total. My parents were married 31 years until my mother died.

One thing I have learned is that we don't talk enough about what marriage really is about. I honestly don't think its possible to be happy all the time. I find in my marriage it ebbs and flows, there are times we are as giddy and passionate as we were 13 years ago and sometimes we are just friends.

Yet I think that is the key, you have to be friends, no matter how unromantic I may feel towards him, he is always my best friend and sounding board. I think if you can maintain that connection you will be fine.

I will also say that I am not sure it is a good thing to share with outside friends about your marriage. I think it opens you up to negative energy creeping in because as you say people want to take sides. That said there are times I need to bounce some ideas off someone and generally I resort to using my brother or my male best friend. Both who will give me a perspective as men yet men who are my friends so the issue does not become a me versus him situation.

Wishing you many more years!

Kristina Brooke said...

Congrats. You have made it through the first 7 years! It truly is a wonderful thing!

You are right- it is hard but well worth the reward.

I have been married just as long as you and I did not have the example either. Well, not in the sense that you mean. I did have an example of what NOT to do! And I learned that marriage is not what makes you happy and that happiness is something (much like a good marriage) that you must strive for on a daily basis! Choose marriage. Every day!

Anyway, beautiful post.

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