We’re told to never give up on our dreams. Movies, television shows, quotes on Pinterest, and captions on fitness models’ pictures scream at us that we can achieve our goals and we can make our own dreams come true…if we don’t give up.
“In two weeks you’ll feel it. In four weeks you’ll see it…ect, ect.”
That’s what they say.
But, when we apply this logic to a marriage, does it still hold water? When we’ve got our hearts and our futures on the line, can we still say that it’ll get better if we just don’t give up?
My mother was married at 17 years old. Far too young to understand the gravity of her situation and decision. She gave her first husband 8 years of marriage before she gave up on the whole thing and left hin. And then when she found out she’d become pregnant with me, she walked away from the potential difficulties of being a single mother and remarried him. She gave up again…this time on herself.
I have often looked at her life and the decisions she made and wondered about these choices and their ramifications. After she’d already left her first husband for the second time and married her second husband, we talked about the effect her marriage to her first husband had on all of us.
She asked me once if I acted out so much because I was angry at her for leaving him. For giving up on their marriage, once and for all. I told her, “No.” I was angry that she didn’t give up sooner.
Sometimes giving up on a marriage is the only way to not give up on yourself and your dreams.
But, what if having a successful marriage is your dream? What then? How much do you tolerate? Where do you draw the line between too far and not far enough? I ask myself these and so many other questions because despite it all, being happily married to my partner is still my dream.
Tomorrow we are married ten years. We have given each other ten years of arguments, screaming matches, crying fits, mournful apologies, painful goodbyes, and enrapturing I-forgive-you’s. I have left them once. They have lost themselves a few times. I have thought I had it all figured out on an almost daily basis…only to be plunked down in the midst of my failure and defeat. We both think we know what’s best. We are both wrong 99% of the time.
And we have loved each other. Through infertility, mental illness, miscarriage, broken trust, mounting debt, death of loved ones, and physical ailments. We have loved each other and we have loved this life. Even when it always seems like we’re living in the “worse”, wondering when we get to the “better”.
There have been more bad days than good. There have been more tears than laughter. But, here we are. Ten years of marriage. And we refuse to give up. Just in case it gets better.
I don’t know what will happen the next ten years. I don’t know if we will eventually face some insurmountable obstacle that we’ll be completely unable to overcome and our marriage will fall apart in the wake of our struggle against it. I dont know if one day they’ll wake up and tell me they don’t love me anymore. I don’t know if I’ll wake up one day and tell them I don’t love them anymore.
But we haven’t yet. And even when it’s hard and even when it hurts, we’ve given ten years to this very hard thing that no one thought we’d be able to pull off.
So, thank you, J, for sharing ten years with me. Thank you for forgiving me when I’ve messed up. Thank you for allowing me to kick your ass and sharpen you and make you a better person. Thank you for doing all those things for me as well. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for letting me cry. Thank you for all this and more.
Because I still love you.
But, most importantly, I still like you, still believe in you, and still want to spend my future with you. And I hope that never changes. I hope neither of us ever feel like we have to give up.
Here’s to the next ten years, my love. Let’s make them the best ten yet.