Everything I’ve attempted to write about this day hasn’t felt right. Like trying to write about a person. No matter how many words you throw out there you need more. Encapsulating thirteen years of marriage into one conversation, one song, or one blog post isn’t possible. So I’m not going to try.
Mike Morrell recently posted a FB link to “Marriage and Intimate Friendship” by Dr. Bob Dick, a psychotherapist in North Carolina. I’m a sucker for a book, article, or podcast about marriage and relationships. As I read it I felt as though he were detailing the trajectory of my marriage.
We fell in love, seeing each other as though diffusers had been implanted in our eyes. Any rough edges were smooth, blemishes were unnoticed. A year later we began to see each other for what we were and had second thoughts. Other people did to. We were advised not to marry by our pastor at the time. We picked someone else to officiate the wedding after that.
But the rough edges took their toll. Each time Jenn or I tried to address some character flaw, real or perceived, we came out of the fray bloody. We burned through so much frustration and anger and cried so many tears. Something had to change. No one could live like that forever.
I don’t know when Jenn got to the point of realizing life was not turning out the way she thought it would. I remember distinctly. I was at our vet’s office in Pensacola, standing outside, while Jenn was getting what would be our fifth cat checked out by the vet. Five cats? How could this be happening? I never liked cats before we were married and now I’m herding them. I realized at that moment I would need to make a decision. Cut and run or stick around and make it work.
Dr. Dick’s post says it best:
“In the third stage of Marriage, people are often aware of deciding whether:
1. To settle for the very disappointing marriage we have,
2. To split, hoping to find that perfect partner, or
3. To do the hard emotional work of emotional intimacy – finding and changing my 50% of the responsibility for all
that’s good and all that’s not good in our relationship.”
I chose number three. Jenn did too. And thank goodness she did. Every year since then has been better than the last. This year has been the best.
It’s easy for me to talk about the hard times in our marriage now. Those battles are over. The scars have healed. Fights don’t break out any more. Intense discussions yes, but not fights. I know I’ve found the woman I want to be with for the rest of my life. If there is one area I lack creativity, it’s my marriage. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live without her. I don’t want to.
Jenn is an amazing woman. She is passionate, considerate, and loving. She understands me, listens to me, and still says she loves me several times a day. Her commitment to me and our marriage is steadfast. It’s a source of strength I draw on constantly.
The thirteenth year of our marriage began with the adoption dossier being completed. It included two weeks in China to expand our family. And it ended with confirmation of something I’ve known the entire time we’ve been married. Jenn is the most amazing mother. If there were competitions for motherhood I wouldn’t think twice about enrolling Jenn.
What are my goals going into year fourteen? Being there for Jenn as much as I can be. Putting my dishes away. Picking up after myself. Being more helpful and supportive. Exercising more patience. Finding more creative ways to express my love and appreciation for the woman of my dreams and my reality.
Jenn and I watched this video together before we went to China. The message resonates with me every time I watch it. The theme, vulnerability and wholeness, are timeless and necessary. I can say our thirteenth year together as husband and wife were full of each.