This week's What Marriage Means to Me post comes from another blogger I met during the SITS Girls' Blogging Challenge. Emma blogs at LLM Calling, and is our first contributor from the UK, as well as the longest-married so far, at 13 years. She tells us about how each chapter of her marriage has brought new lessons about what marriage really means.
~~~Mike and I have been married for thirteen years, mostly happily. Over that time our marriage has changed a lot and it's in those changes that I find what our marriage means to me.
We met at university, were friends first and then realised (with the help of our friends) that we could be something more. We spent a year travelling between our two Masters' universities at weekends before finding jobs close together, moving into a flat and then getting married. We rubbed along well with our friends, jobs, travel and lots of chill out time together. The first lesson about marriage was as early as this: love needs compromise; we compromised on where we'd live and what jobs we took.
After five years or so in our normal routine we decided to try for a family. The journey was long and emotional and took us to the edge of our coping abilities. At times we were emotionally miles apart and yet we somehow held together by respecting each other's needs; something only possible because we knew each other so well. There is lesson number two; to give each other time to process grief and loss and lean on other people rather than just ourselves. We learned a lot about each other then and how we processed emotions and dealt with stress. We learned why we loved each other and it was the deep friendship.
We were lucky; eventually we held a child in our arms and so another chapter started. Suddenly my career was unimportant; I was a mother and that trumped everything. He was the sole breadwinner and was no longer the number one in my life. It was the happiest of times and yet the biggest challenge on our marriage; we were a threesome suddenly. So lesson three was the acceptance of change; people change over time, relationships change, marriages have to change. What matters in a marriage is the willingness to keep trying and working on it.
If that wasn't enough I realised I was being called into church ministry, an unpaid career with a Boss my husband didn't believe in. It never occurred to me that this would be a problem. He had built a successful career and continued to be my rock, as ever. Looking back I can't believe my selfishness, but he says I'm wrong to think like that. Lesson number four: Never take your spouse for granted even when you know you can. Marriage means leaning on each other, but it's a two-way street.
Thirteen years have seen us changing from students to graduates to professional engineers to parents and now to a manager and a minister. We've laughed and travelled and learned and grieved and loved together. We couldn't be more different than we were when we met, but we love each other in those changes.
What does marriage mean to me?
It means wanting to see the one you love be happy and helping them achieve that. I thank my lucky stars that my husband is so great at that; I promise to keep trying harder.
~~~Emma is a mum, wife, licensed lay minister, babyloss counsellor and blogger at http://llmcalling.blogspot.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Pinterest as emmuk74.