Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is Marriage?

Marriage. Something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. I remember so many moons ago, when I was 16 and my best friend, who just happened to live directly across the street from me, was two years older. We would sit on the steps of her front porch or in her car during lunch time at school, and talk about our fairy tale weddings. Never in those conversations did we ever really talk about "marriage". What was marriage really? Two people, falling in love, and having a dream wedding. Instead we talked about what colors our bridesmaids would wear. Who would be our Maid-of-Honor. What kind of wedding dress we couldn't wait to try on. You know, the IMPORTANT STUFF. At least, at that age, those things were important to us. Of course, as we grew up, and my best friend, now in her 20's was finally at that stage in her life. Marriage. I was now 18 and the things we had discussed so many moon's ago, now were coming true. The dresses, the colors, who would wear what. The food, the hall, the whole nine yards. But again, never did we really discuss what MARRIAGE really was. Of course she went through the motions with the pastor from her church, before the actual ceremony was to take place. But did he really know? We never questioned or talked about the important stuff. Of course the day was beautiful. She looked amazing as always. I am also sure she was on cloud nine as I could clearly see it in her face.

I went through the motions of her being a "new bride" giving them their space that they needed but missing my friend so much. We talked when we could and she seemed happy for the most part. Still blissfully living the "dream" of marriage. But again, never did we talk about the true meaning. What did it take to keep a marriage together. What held those words to be so meaningful. Little did we know, that both of us would soon learn what Marriage really was. And sadly, some of it wasn't the best way to find out.

A year later, I left for college. She had just celebrated her first anniversary and I was living the dream in Boston. Never did I imagine I would actually fall in love the first week of school. Mind you, that was never my intent. But I did. And it was blissful. Of course, we immediately discussed the all important word, Marriage. We talked about where we would live and how many kids we would have. Our wedding and the colors. What I would wear, who we would invite. You know, the blissful things in life. Of course we were jumping the fence EXTREMELY EARLY. But we were in love and we were happy. At least, we wanted to be.

Of course, our relationship was rocky. Family involvement made things difficult. We tried hard to overcome it, but sometimes it was just too powerful. We jumped hurdle after hurdle. Not ever knowing that this someday would only make our marriage and the love we had stronger then ever. The biggest test came when we found our we were pregnant. How do we tell his parents? How do we tell our parents? What will people thing of us having a baby and not even being "Married"? Again that word. Marriage? Why was it so important? What power did it have that we didn't know about?

We went through the motions of being pregnant and telling family. It was long, it was trying and definitely the worse time in both of our lives. The encouragement and support wasn't always there. The lack of understanding on some parties made it hard to be excited and happy. I tried hard to keep my spirits up and my excitement of finally being a mom on the front burner of my mind. I wanted her dad to be just as much a part of her life as I was when she was growing inside me. He was wonderful, but scared. Of course we both were. We decided before she was born not to make things official by getting married. Many reasons brought us to this decision. Both of us were still in college, lack of either of us having a full time job, and benefits as far as health insurance was better if we weren't married. We wanted too, trust me. But in the end, God really gave us so many reasons why we needed to just be patient and let things happen when they were right. At the time though, we didn't know this. And the struggle of being a mom and not married was very hard on me. The whispers, the stares, of course the different last names. It just sucked.

We lived on auto pilot for many years. Going through the motions of life. Though life brought more then its fair share of downs for us. Fighting with family, the loss of Jason's mom. Then a short time later the diagnosis and the loss of our daughter Anabelle. And lets not forget the time she spend in the NICU. The stress alone from unwilling doctors who wanted to help her. The anger of keeping her alive even with the diagnosis of T18. The stressful period of having her at home. It was a lot of emotions, anger, and sadness. Almost more then I ever thought we could bear together as a couple. Even the anger toward me from family that I must have done something wrong when I was pregnant to have her die. The disappointment I felt that I couldn't do anything about it. The anguish that Jason had loosing two very important people in his life in less then a year. The sadness Olivia was feeling loosing her sister and not understanding completely what was going on. It just all really sucked. But we moved forward. From the time we had met until the time of Anabelle's death we had been together for more then 4 years. We had gone through bitter battles between myself and his family on many occasions. The loss of loved ones, the arguments between the two of us. So many battle scares played on our hearts. Yet, we were still together.

And then, the unthinkable happened. Of course, Jason and I were still unmarried during this time. It was about 3 weeks after Anabelle has lost her life to T18. My birthday. I was turning 25. Honestly, I wasn't even excited about this milestone. I was still raw with emotions, reeling with the loss of the past year. Gearing up for Jason's mom's 1st anniversary not being with us on earth. I was just depleted. But my wonderful husband had other plans. He, in all of his love for me, surprised our family and our closest friends with not only a surprise 25th birthday party, but a wedding. A marriage. A life of togetherness forever. He planned everything. Not in years, or months or weeks. But 24 hours. It was wonderful, romantic, exciting, and bittersweet all rolled into one. I asked myself this: "Was this what marriage was truly all about?"

As I look back on the last 10+ years we have been together. I find myself still trying to answer this question. Even though I will never know the true meaning, I believe I have a better understanding.

Marriage is not about the dress you wear, the colors you have at your wedding, who you have asked to be your Maid-of-Honor or even your bridesmaids. Marriage is not about how much you spend, the hall you have your wedding at, or who takes your pictures. Marriage is not about the food you serve, the people you try to impress or the flowers you carry. Marriage is not about who you go to for pre-marriage counseling or who tells you the little tid bits of a "forever" happy life together.

In the end, marriage for me is about listening to the person you love. Holding a relationship together through all the bad, the hurt and the ugly. Fighting until the problems you have are solved. Never going to bed angry or resentful. Respecting the others beliefs and feelings. Being an equal partner to each other. This could be as simple as house chores, taking care of children, or even filling the car with gas. Marriage is being there for one another when someone is sick. Washing the floors on your hands and knees, and fighting over who is right when it comes to building a playground.

We have learned so much about each other in the last 10 years. But even still, I am almost positive there is so much more I don't know about my husband. I am tell others who are about to be married to skip the marriage counseling and come to our house for a day. We could teach you so much more about relationships and life then someone who has never been married could teach you. I am not saying that talking to them is a horrible idea, I am just saying, marriage is more then just loving God and respecting each other through him. There is so much more to that.

Marriage to me is loving my husband every moment that I breath and continuing to learn about the love we have for each other and our growing family.

I love you sweetie, very much. Thank you for making our "marriage" a happy, healthy and continuous learning experience for me every moment of everyday. Because a marriage that you haven't learned something from, isn't really a marriage to me.

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