Celebrating and reflecting on five years of marriage
In 2011 when we got married I did a lot of soul searching about what those wedding vows – what the act of getting married – really meant to me. When I stood at the altar, in front of Nick, and spoke my vows to him, what was I really saying? (It’s easy to get swept up in the pretty bits of wedding planning, especially when you run a wedding blog, and forget about the meaning).
Finally the phrase that kept rooting itself for me was “I promise that I will always work through things with you, no matter how tough it gets.” It was pretty scary realising that this was going to be my commitment to him, more so than the prescribed wedding vows, perhaps because I had settled on it myself. I felt like this promise came from somewhere deep inside of me and was bound to me in an inextricable way, and what it meant in real life terms was scary as hell.
This month we are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary (back in Italy, the country where we got engaged). Twelve years together, five years married, and nearly three years now as parents. I think the last two and bit years as parents have tested my marriage commitment the most. They have been the most challenging years of our lives so far, both as individuals, parents, and as husband and wife. I have had times where I cursed myself for making – what seemed at those times – an insane commitment. I have had times where I’ve shouted and yelled and wished it undone, and I’m sure, in fact I know, they weren’t the last times I will behave like that.
But through all my cursing and anger and bitterness and tears, there has been this wonderfully imperfect man (battening down the hatches to weather my emotional storms). My commitment to him, and ours to our marriage, has been strengthened by all the challenges and hardships. That commitment that rooted itself deep inside me before our wedding started out as a flawless promise, if it existed in reality it would be a beautiful scroll of paper with exquisite lettering, or carved into a piece of polished marble. Now it is tattered, worn, broken, and taped back together. If it were that scroll is would undoubtedly have had sections burnt, sellotape holding it together in multiple places, and toddler crayoning across its perfect lettering. The polished marble version would be littered with bulletholes, chunks bashed off it, and a few coarse attempts to scratch out and amend the text.
But despite all that, it is a more genuine promise and commitment than it was at the start of our marriage, more full of meaning and stories that bind us together. It is no longer just a commitment spoken out loud, but one that is sewn into the very fabric of the both of us. I understand now that it isn’t just some words to be propped on our mantle for us to glance at and simply reaffirm, it is living inside us, binding us together through the hardships (even when it had been reduced to just a thin thread), stretching and tearing, and being bandaged back together.
That is all to say that marriage is hard, but like children, transformative, if you can just open yourself up to the vulnerability of it all.
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