I didn't grow up dreaming of my wedding day, so there were no preconceived ideas of what my love story would look like. Marriage was something that most people chose to embark on at a time in their lives when they wanted to build equity, and by that I mean have babies. People got married once they had achieved great jobs, expensive furniture, and ran out of things to do on a Friday night. That all turned out not to be true. I wasn't going to be one of those ladies who marries an executive in her early 30's with a destination wedding, and the merging of padded bank accounts. I was going to be the nineteen year old that calls her parents six months after leaving home with the news that I was marrying my twenty year old boyfriend...'You remember, that guy we had dinner with when you visited me? Brown hair...tattoos...Dad? Hello?'
Although I realize that it doesn't matter what order things happen in, I liked that we got engaged and married without a shot gun. Most people assume that a nineteen year old gets married after seven months of dating because she's got a surprise on the way. We were just in love, and I was proud of that. I was really into our whirlwind story of romance on the high seas, forbidden courtships, and grand gestures. I was also incredibly naive, immature, and lacked the skills necessary to be successful in marriage. I'm pretty sure the Sailor would offer up a "ditto" if he were sitting here. It didn't take long before we experienced, and survived, lying, cheating, financial dishonesty, and a number of other hurdles. Our sweet story of young love looked more like a soon-to-be statistic.
When people asked about our history, and they often did, what was I supposed to say? I'd either have to omit a chunk of years, lie, or be very vague. Vague works until I have a cocktail. Literally, one cocktail and I think we're friends and will tell you anything you want to know. Social gatherings and new friendships aside, I wanted to feel good about my marriage again. Where we're at now is great, and I'm proud of our relationship dynamic, but what about the road that lead us here? How do I reconcile that?
I had to learn to respect what we had gone through and stop looking at it as a failure. I needed see it as a victory, not just because we made it, but also because we own our many mistakes along the way. I had to stop comparing it to other people's. Our story isn't a Hallmark card anymore-- it's a worn out Bible. The pages are tattered and there are notes in the margins. It's been carried everywhere, dropped, slammed, and thrown around. But we're still reading it. We're still committed and we have a better understanding of it now. The way I would've described our love story two years ago is very different from how I'd tell it today. I imagine my perspective will continue to change as we continue our life together. With every good day we add to the books, the bad ones seem less significant. They feel more like lessons we needed to learn to be as good together as we are now.
It's like this family picture: what the hell is going on here? Hot mess express. Still totally proud of what we built.
Image credit : Jessica Archelolo
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