21 years…I have been married for 21 years. That is longer than I was not married. I have had my husband’s surname longer than I had my own. My eldest child is now older than I was when I got married. 21 years.
I was a bright eyed 19 year old when I got married. Gavin and I had been dating for more than two years and I really believed that I was ready. I believed that I knew what I was getting into. Then I fell pregnant.
Yep, honeymoon baby. One month of wedded bliss and then nine months of morning sickness followed by months of sleepless nights and post-natal depression. Our early years of marriage were not easy, but we survived 🙂
Looking back over all the years is bittersweet. We had some really wonderful times but we have also had some really low points. We were broke, living pay check to pay check surrounded by second hand everything (not the cool retro/vintage jag that everyone is on now) and struggled to merge two single lives into one while raising a baby.
Marriage is full of compromise, as cliche as that may sound. Two individuals with their own likes and dislikes, their own preferences and their own opinions suddenly need to share the same space with someone else. It is easy to fall into the trap of one becoming the giver and the other the taker. This is not a great recipe for wedded bliss. Eventually the giver gets sick of giving and the taker loses respect for the giver. For a marriage to be happy, both parties need to be happy, both parties need to win sometimes and both need to lose sometimes and both need to retain part of their individuality.
We all know someone who has been totally swallowed by their partner. They stop hanging out with their own friends, they stop doing the things that they like and their whole life revolves around the one person. This isn’t healthy…for either of them. To have a healthy, happy marriage you need to retain yourself even as you learn to compromise. It’s a tricky balancing act, but when you get it right, it is worth it.
For me, the most important thing in my marriage was the decision I made that there was no option to walk away. Please understand that I am not talking about when there is abuse in a relationship. What I am talking about is not allowing yourself to view your marriage as something that can be undone when it gets too hard. Sometimes we have to make changes to ourselves so that our lives fit together and this is hard. Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of times when I have thought it was too hard and it would be easier to walk away, but I knew that that wasn’t an option. It wasn’t easy and I often believed Gavin would be better off without me, but I gritted my teeth and put my shoulder to the wheel and made the changes I needed to make…and I am a better person for it.
I think that that is one of the best things to come out of my marriage, that I have become a better person. Gavin often says that we grew up together in our marriage and it is true. We were very young and we have grown together as we have grown older. We are both better people, we have both compromised, we have both won sometimes and we have both lost sometimes. We are not perfect, we are still having to compromise (especially since we run a business together) but it has become easier.
I can’t imagine my life without Gavin in it. He is my rock, he is my best friend. He has put up with a lot because of me and my baggage and without him I wouldn’t be who I am. So, Happy Anniversary baby…I love you xxx