They Do Exist.

What No One Told Me: Choosing Marriage Every Day

Editor’s Note: I adore Heir to Blair. She has written for us before on “We Don’t Fight” and “Keeping Romance Alive” – and I love the way she meets life with strength, joy, and a matter-of-fact perspective. The wisdom found in this post of hers is beyond value. Read it and hold onto it. Oh, and also. Have you entered to win the giveaway yet?  – Lauren

For five years, my husband & I have built a home & family.  We started off fresh-faced & innocent, two 23-year-olds facing a world of possibilities.  We settled into a small apartment, then quickly upgraded to owning our home.  We adopted a rescue dog & brought home a beautiful blonde boy.  It has been five years of love, triumphs, heartbreaks, & those life-altering decisions that shape an entire future.  It has been easy at times; it has been tough at others.

I grew up as many young girls did in the 1990’s, watching first-class Rose fall impossibly in love with third-class Jack.  I watched classics with my mother & heard Ali MacGraw utter “Love means never having to say you’re sorry!” I read Jane Austen in public & snuck romance novels under my bed – tales of fate & kismet.  I grew up with fables of soul mates –  find “the one” & marriage fades perfectly into the sunset because it is destiny.  That soul mates are always in love, always wiling to selflessly sacrifice & that every year will be a confetti-filled chapter in happily ever after.

It certainly felt like destiny in those moments when my eyes locked  his at the end of a long aisle, a white dress cascading & flouncing at my feet.

But truthfully, marriage is a decision that we make every day.

While I want to say that I wish someone had told me that marriage is a decision, I am thankful to admit that one person did whisper that secret the summer my future husband slipped a diamond on that fourth finger.  “Marriage is a decision to make every day,” my aunt wisely counseled.  “Every morning, you wake up & roll over & decide to love that person, no matter what comes.  Some days it is easy.  Other days it is work.  But the important thing is to make the decision.”

During the first year of our marriage, we struggled deciding where to live – he wanted to move “home” to the friends & countryside that he missed; I craved to stay in the city with a job I loved.  Many tears were shed at night while we discussed the options & many times, we fell  asleep still unsettled.  But each morning, we rose with the decision to make our life together work despite our opposite stances.  & this decision gave us hope that we would eventually meet a compromise. (We did.)

The year we were pregnant, love came easily.  As I lost our first pregnancy, we held each other close in comfort.  He held my hand while I slept off the pain; I assured him that we would be parents some day.  Months later, we laid in bed with happy hearts as our second baby kicked from inside my belly.  We laughed through a maternity photo shoot & I will never forget the adoration on his face when he handed me our son for the very first time.  Love was seamless, easy, & comfortable.  The decision to stay married was a second-nature that rarely crossed our conscious minds.

Last year, my husband decided to honor the vow “in sickness & in health” as he stood by me through a hospital stay & hours of therapy.  My mental health took a toll on our marriage & threw more responsibilities on him; I am sure there were moments where he thought “I didn’t sign up for this!” yet he decided to love me in my darkness, to pray with me & stay strong.  This summer, we will celebrate our fifth anniversary with the joy that comes from making it into the light together.

These days, we have fallen back into a comfortable pattern of the unconscious decision as we support each other through job changes & teach our toddler to blow bubbles on the back porch.  We talk of future plans to grow our family more, to move once again, to begin saving for a trip across the ocean.  For now, these dreams & hopes are easy, but I know that the path to reach them together will be marked.

But we’re ready to make that decision.  Every day..

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15 Responses

  1. Just wanted to pop in & say thanks for the way-too-flattering intro, Lauren! You are a doll.

    Also, wanted to clarify that sometimes it's a smarter choice to walk away from a marriage. If it's draining your soul, separating you from God, abusive…there are so many situations.

    & that sometimes, the decision is stripped from us by a dick of a partner. I hope to never belittle the fact that sometimes, it's not our choice.e

    I just meant that sometimes when the going gets rough, marriage is far past destiny & fate & more into making the choice to see it through the best you can.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:00 am

  2. I just have to say "hee hee" to that second sentence in your comment above. Yes, marriage is a choice every stinking day. But if your dick of a partner fails to make that choice, then you put your big girl pants on and walk away.

    I love you and love this post!

    May 31, 2011 at 11:24 am

  3. kaleighsomers

    I am loving all these nuggets of advice and insight with the "what no one told me" series. But this is so true and one of my favorites. I think I'm terrified of marrying someone who doesn't know this going into it. A man who maybe really does love me at the beginning because it's perfect and wonderful and just what he wants, but what about when it gets to that "I didn't sign up for this" part that you mentioned? I hope everyone is as lucky as you and your husband. I really do. Nobody is 100% perfect and unchanging and we cannot anticipate what will crop up in our lives. Maybe we should all be reminded of that before we get married.

    May 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm

  4. kks

    tears reading this, for so many reasons — the mental health struggle you battled (something all too familiar to me, yet as a single person) and him steadfast as he stood by you in your darkest hours, the reality of the vagaries of marriage in light of the pack of lies Hollywood and romance novels sold us on what marriage will be like, bravely navigating the uncharted and devastating territory of a miscarriage…
    Your courage to acknowledge very real struggles in an open forum is beyond admirable. Thank you for painting a realistic picture for us single ladies of what marriage is about – I hope I have the chance to apply it one day when I get married.

    June 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm

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