Marriage one year in
John and I have been married a year come Sunday, July 3rd. I’ve spent the last week reflecting on our year of marriage, trying to pinpoint the shift that it brought in, but I find drawing a line dividing our relationship before and after marriage to be basically impossible. The truth is we were already married for years. And I can see that clearly now.
If anything, the lack of marriage was far more palpable than the presence of it. Like so many other couples it seems, we reached that point where one of us was ready to be married (me) while the other was still happily living exactly where we were. I come from a family with a terrible track record for marriage, while John’s parents are the very picture of a beautiful and real partnership, still going strong after more than 35 years. I always thought I was the one that had to come around, and once I did, he’d be there with a ring. He wasn’t. And that was hard.
When we finally did get married on our 11th anniversary it didn’t feel particularly momentous – it just felt like the world being righted. The word ‘husband’ sounded strange coming out of my mouth, but it finally felt like the right title. We had earned ‘husband’ and ‘wife.’
Getting married did not change our relationship, but it did change our family. I’ve learned that while relationships are private, marriage is a community act. Bringing together our family and friends to celebrate our life together was incredibly important. Being the relatively quiet and unassuming people that we are, we would have been quite happy to wed with little fanfare, but we knew that a wedding was important exactly because we are so quiet and unassuming. Our relationship needed windows.* We needed to let people be a part of our union.
The other day I was reading an article about a couple learning the sex of their as-yet-unborn child and my mind drifted to when that might be me. I’m pretty lukewarm to the idea of having children, but I knew that if we did, I would really be wishing for a girl. Growing up an only child with a single mom, I’ve always had a very special bond with my mom and I couldn’t picture anything other than a mother-daughter relationship. But seeing as I have very little control over such things, I let my mind wander to what it might be like to have a boy. And then my heart did an unexpected fluttery thing. Suddenly the idea of a little blond, mischievous John (he used to be seriously blond) in my life melted my heart. My completely child-proof heart. So there’s that.
Maybe marriage has changed me more than I know.
And with that I wish you all a beautiful long weekend (well at least in Canada and the US, which will be celebrating their birthdays on July 1st and Jul 4th, respectively). We are off bright and early tomorrow to revel in the glories of the West Coast!
*Elizabeth Gilbert in Committed provides a great analogy of the importance of ‘walls and windows’ within marriage – the walls are the barriers of trust which guard your intimate secrets, while the windows are the necessary gaps through which you interact with family and friends.