For most of my young adult life and early 20's I had this idea of what marriage was and what an ideal marriage was supposed to be. Two distinct things. Not much in common with the other except that it involved two people, united by the bond of marriage, spending their lives together. At that point the similarities ended and the roads took 90 degree turns from one another.
I believed what marriage was, in my vernacular, was a union of two people who, at one time, loved each other like crazy. But as time wore on they grew and changed. Typically this change did not involve them growing together but apart. I saw couples who had groups of friends that were separate from one another. Couples who spent little time together. Couples who bickered. Couples who could put on good face, but when apart did nothing but complain about their other half. Their marriage had become more of a management proposition and less of a relationship. I saw very little in my world to indicate that marriage was anything but this. It was worrisome.
Yet this did not stop my mind from formulating what I believed marriage ought to be. I don't know when I started to imagine this-sometime in high school I suppose. But there it was, my ideal marriage. It had two nameless, faceless individuals in this relationship. They were romantically in love from the start. But over time, this love became more-it was woven and shot through with the trials they faced, the tough times, the days that were just too much. It also was stitched by their laughter and shared jokes. Patched by common memories, experiences, interests. Made more vibrant by divergent interests they shared with the other. Grew larger with children and friends. This love could mend hurt feelings. It could be a safe harbor in a storm. It could be a warm blanket on a cold night. As the relationship aged, it looked different, but it improved, it grew, stretched, contracted, and accommodated the passage of time. There was no expectation of perfection in this marriage. Just love, comfort, and support.
I never expected to be blessed with such a relationship. I hadn't seen one like it, so how would I even know how to create one? Yet this weekend, after my husband and I were discussing the notion of the honeymoon I realized something-I do have that ideal. We are not perfect. Far from it. But I don't think either of us expect perfection from each other. I am messy. I am neurotic. I am a procrastinator. I love to start and not finish things. I can be one hot mess. But he loves me in spite of my flaws. And not only does he love me, but together we laugh so hard we cry, we still share private jokes when out at events, we hold hands, we sit smushed up against one another on the couch, and weekend mornings are spent lounging in our bed with our son cracking jokes. I am one lucky lady. I don't say it often enough.
My hope is that my stepdaughter and son are lucky enough to have a relationship as full and rich as mine is with their dad. One that isn't just about the happy days, but shows its best side during the rough patches. Not just any marriage, but the ideal marriage. Just like the one I was fortunate to find.