Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Last Eight Years

April 12, 2008, was a lovely, sunny day in New England. Well, actually, the early part of the morning was a bit overcast. You could see some brightness through the clouds as my mom and I climbed into a black stretch limo in front of the house I'd grown up in. We pulled up in front of a picturesque brick church on top of a hill, and just as we went inside the sun burst through the clouds. You could practically hear the angels singing.

It was a perfect day for a wedding: not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, not too bright. Not that anything short of a tornado would have bothered me; it was my wedding day, and there was enough sunshine in my heart to brighten up the darkest day.

One of the advantages of getting married older is that many of your friends have been married for a number of years and can give you good, practical advice - not only about the wedding, but about the marriage. One of the best pieces of wedding advice I got was to consciously take moments throughout the day to mentally step back and look around. Look at the faces of the family and friends around and share their joy. Take a good look at the flowers on the altar, the wedding cake, your groom in his formalwear, your bridesmaids dancing with their shoes off, your mom and your mother-in-law chatting with their faces close together. I have a lot of wonderfully clear memories of my wedding day because of that advice.

But by far the more important advice was regarding the marriage. One of the best pieces of marriage advice I got was that it's okay to not like each other sometimes. That may seem like rather odd advice, but if you understand that liking and loving are two very different things, it makes sense. Loving someone is a choice; it affects how you treat them, how you speak to them, how you relate to them. Liking someone is a feeling of the moment; it is affected by your own moods, circumstances beyond your control, and external events. If you love someone, you treat them with respect even when you're angry or frustrated with them. It protects you from saying something you don't mean, something you'll regret, in the heat of the moment. It guards your heart and your mouth from making stupid, hurtful mistakes. It guides your behavior.

And it gets easier with practice. I've learned how to weather those moments of not liking my husband, even when I love him dearly. And I suspect he finds his moments of not liking me a bit easier to take after these eight years. Because we've both learned to trust the underlying love and respect. We know that these small clouds will blow away and the brilliant sunshine behind them will break through. Because the sunshine is always there, even when we can't see it for a moment.

So I look forward to the next eight years together, and the next eighteen, and the next eighty. I know my love will continue to grow, even as my moments of dislike grow fewer and further between. I can manage any situation, as long as my love is beside me, sharing this wonderful, wacky, wild ride called Life!



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