“I didn’t fall in love with you. I walked into love with you. With my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate & destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we’d choose anyway. And I’d choose you. In a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality. I’d find you…and I’d choose YOU.”Kiersten White, “The Chaos of Stars”
20 years ago, I came face to face with the man that would change my life.
Prior to meeting him, I never believed in “love at first sight”, as this is something of fairy tales. But on that day, and in that moment, my life flashed before my eyes and, as I was standing there, looking into his, this incredible wave of emotion washed over me and the craziest thought echoed throughout my mind:
This was completely absurd, of course, considering my current situation and course in life. However, the Universe set something in motion that day and, a year later, under a completely different set of circumstances, I (again) found myself face to face with this man… and, this time, the story of “US” truly began.
I’d like to say that the rest is history and that we lived “happily ever after”, but that’s just not reality in any story line or lifetime. “For better or worse, in good times and in bad.” are words written into wedding vows for a reason. So, no – it has not been all sunshine and rainbows. Lord knows we’ve had our share of dark days, hard times, disappointments and tears… but what’s meant to be will always find a way, and so we’ve weathered all of our “storms” together, building a life and love as strong (and as stubborn) as we both are.
Recently, someone asked me what the secret is to such a happy marriage and, while I am definitely no expert, I know what works for us:
Go ahead and laugh, but it’s actually quite true. You have got to be able to have fun with your partner, as well as respect them enough to never degrade or demean them when you are angry or upset. Not to mention all the “other stuff”, … like honesty, respect, tenderness and forgiveness, as well as, a willingness to share in all the boring and mundane responsibilities that come along with building a life.
One particularly unconventional “tradition” we have invented for ourselves over the years is that every year, on our anniversary, we discuss the previous year (or years) and ask each other: ARE YOU TRULY HAPPY?
You see, marriage is all about give and take. Some years one partner may be called upon to give so much more than they take, and this can become exhausting. When one person needs more than the other, it can be easy to overlook or ignore the needs of the giver. No matter what happens though, it is so important to make sure your partner feels seen, heard, valued, understood and appreciated. And if, at any point in the marriage union, these mutual feelings have changed… well, we believe it’s better to have loved and lost than to continue on, living in a loveless relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, we meant every word when we took those vows. And we mean it when we said “forever” – but neither of us are naive to the trials and tribulations of Life. We both know, all too well, how things can change over time. We’ve both seen it happen and I, myself, experienced it firsthand at a very young age – having been married at 18, and divorced by the time I was 25.
Just like the old saying begins: “If you truly love someone, set them free…” – if ever we are no longer happy together, we have agreed that it’s better to simply let each other go, rather than to stay together and allow our hearts to rot.
Lucky for us though, again, we both agree. After discussing the highs and lows of our most crazy past year, I asked him if he’s still happy…
He said YES! …and I, most definitely, still “DO”!
“Love isn’t only love, sweetheart.
It’s hard work, and trust, and tears, with even a few glimpses of devastation. But at the end of each day, if you can still look at the person at your side and can’t imagine anyone else you’d rather have there, the pain and heartache and the ups and downs of love are worth it.”Nicole Williams