The opening line to the piece that I just had accepted for publication in June states, "When I envisioned my future, I only saw the beauty in the imperfect lives of others’ happily ever after stories, and didn’t see the sweat, tears, and time that went into creating these lives I idolized."
I'm not usually a want what other people have kind of person, but there is one thing that they have that I want. It's not a house; it's not a car; it's not some career, promotion, or milestone; it's not some body type or image; it's not money or early retirement; it's not even to travel the whole world (even though I would LOVE that), but it's what I see when I look at my parents, both sets of my grandparents, Nate's Grandma and Grandpa Dell, some of my friends' parents or their grandparents or aunts and uncles, and neighbors from my childhood to neighbors of my adulthood. None of my friends have this yet, but like us they're working to make it their story some day too.
Fifty percent of marriages these days they say end in divorce. It's scary to think we only have a 1 in 2 chance of having something that really is part of the one thing I want above all else in life. My husband was quite the cynic of marriage; he did not buy into the lifetime commitment, two parent family structure at first. To me it's not just the sitting in our rocking chairs together at the end of our days, but it's what that commitment to each other gives to our kids. Nothing lights up my parents' faces more than having all of us together. I love how the three of us with our kids and spouses will just fill up the house on our trips home; the love that is there among a family in moments like that really is one of the greatest magical moments of life. I love, love seeing older couples I follow on social media post similar images of their grown children with their families all gathered for the weekend or holidays.
To me that's the whole journey right there. As much as I love to celebrate how far Nate and I have come in eleven years; we still have so many trials and tribulations that I'm sure will test us in the years to come. But to reach that point where you've worked together for decades creating a life, raising a family, and then to have the moments where your grown children with their families gather in your home and it's filled with laughter and joy that's the happily ever after we're all chasing. That's the moment you can say we did it. We made it.
My childhood neighbor who has been married over thirty years now shared how rough their first five years of marriage were, and I thanked her for sharing it because even more so in this social media world it's easy to think that everyone's story is easy, simple. That they don't struggle or have to work for the things they want in life too. Every marriage is work; every marriage has it's good patches and bad patches. I focus on the good in ours most of the time but it is not always the case, especially early in our relationship. We have little cousins and a few friends that will sometimes look up to us, and as great as that can make you feel I try to stress to them we have to work to make this work like everyone else. Not every day, but there's so much more to our story than I share sometimes. One day maybe I can share the whole story, but it's not just my story to tell.
We have never brought up divorce, but the most important thing is I think he believes in this (marriage) and what it can give our kids now. We are still so early in this journey. There is still so much left to be written. But more than anything else-more than a nest egg of money, more than a bigger newer house, more than some nice car, more than some body type or image, more than some advancement or recognition with my career-I want the marriage that stands the tests of a lifetime, the marriage that still stands strong to provide that safe haven for my adult children when they're just entering the early trials and struggles of adulthood and parenthood and need that reminder that magic still exists in the love that surrounds us.