Do you remember when you dreamed of getting married one day? For me, the idea of actually being a Mrs. was so exciting! I imagined romantic dinners, having a storybook life in a storybook house, and meeting the one person who would take my breath away. And that one person -- he would look like a prince. I had him all picked out in my mind. Tall, blond with lots of wavy curls, sophisticated, dreamy. He would make a lot of money and treat me like a queen. Somehow, I imagined I would magically transform into a princess type where life is perfectly perfect every single moment. Do you hear soft music playing in the background? Yeah. Me, too.
It didn't work out quite that way. I met my future husband in college. He didn't look like I envisioned (shorter than me and going bald.) He didn't make a ton of money (he was loaded up with student loans.) But, he did make me feel pretty special, and I knew he was "the one." We got through our last two years of school and then decided to live apart for a year to get our careers started. It all came to a point where something had to give. So I gave up my first real job to move three hours East and get married. Dream fulfilled, right?
The first two weeks of our marriage were perfect -- for my husband. I made him a hot breakfast every morning, did all of the housework, had dinner on the table when he got home, and waited on his every wish. He expected me to do everything since I was his "wife." And, then I stopped. Where he pushed, I pulled. We had some arguments. It was not a fairy tale. We had a long talk about our future.
A few months into the marriage, my husband called me one morning from work and announced we were moving. So we packed everything up in our cars and a tiny U-haul. We paid our deposits and got settled into our new home. Then, he came home and announced another move. And another. And another. In fact, we moved 13 times in the first five years of our marriage. Just as soon as we would get settled and I would find a job, we were off to the next location. Once again, we sat down and had a long talk.
I truly believe marriage is an art. It is not something that just happens. It is something that has to develop. It never looks the same from one day to the next. Needs change, wants change. Not everything is good; but, not everything is bad, either. Much like a craft that an artisan has to develop over time to become truly skilled, marriage is the same way. It must be forged. It must be fed with positive actions and led in a positive direction. When it gets off course, it must be steered back. It does not always work out the way we expect it to. And, sometimes we must sit down and have those talks to get us back on track. Believe me! We have had a lot of talks in our marriage.
This month, I will celebrate my 21st wedding anniversary. My husband and I are not the same people that said our vows in a park one Saturday afternoon. We have become two very different people from the ones who said those vows. In many ways, we have grown more alike. In other ways, we have not. But, that is okay. We have grown to understand each other.
I sometimes thing back about my childhood and how I romanticized that my life would not be complete until I got married. The "act" of marriage did not make my life complete. The result of what I have done with my marriage -- the relationship I developed with my husband, my wonderful children, the adventures that have led us to this moment -- that has made me complete. And, I am always looking forward to the next adventure. Whatever that may be. Bring it!