Perhaps you’re not nearly as young as I was when I got married. I mean, I sure hope my children aren’t planning their weddings at 17! I don’t know what we were thinking. Perhaps we simply thought what every 17 year old thinks.
“I know everything.”
I honestly think that was a major part of our decision making.
Whether you’re 20 when you get married or 35 when you get engaged, your life will look different 15 years from now. Marriage can’t possibly be all butterflies in your stomach for 15 straight years. Nor are women willing to go to bed with makeup on, and wake up at midnight like Mrs. Maisel to complete our skincare routine!
Isn’t growth something we all really want? If something isn’t growing anymore, it’s stagnant, or worse. It’s dying. I think we sometimes forget that growth also means change. Change is hard. Look at the two side by side photos above. I even changed my hair part! Let me reassure you that growth is always worth sacrificing the parts of ourselves that need to pass away in order for stronger, more stable roots to take hold.
When we were 19, we drove my sister-in-law out to Cincinnati for a week long music camp. Obviously, we weren’t going to drive all the way back home. We thought we’d wait it out and see what the great state of Ohio had to offer us. Not much. Not even a hotel. We had never had this problem before. Hotels didn’t all require you show identification until 2015. I walked into each of these hotels and they took one look at me and asked for my ID. I wasn’t old enough to get a hotel room. Old enough to MARRY, but not old enough to pay for a hotel room. We hopped on over to Kentucky. Same issue. Finally we found a hotel that took pity on us and let us stay. From there on out, I stayed in the car while James got a room. Then he snuck me in the back door. Let’s all picture this in our minds for a second and think about how that made me look…
I just assumed we spoke the same language. How wrong was I?! We’ve now swapped roles. I come to James with a problem and he silently hears me out! I actually want solutions! Long gone are the years when I wanted him to listen to me and just commiserate!
Don’t doubt your abilities. Take a chance.
Sure, I studied hard, spent hours in the darkroom making prints that are currently stored in my basement, and haven’t seen the light of day in over a decade. I got amazing grades in art history as well, but I cannot now tell you when Alfred Steiglitz photographed “The Steerage.” And it doesn’t matter either. James was right when he said I should not take every critique so personally, and should instead set goals. You will fail, but it won’t destroy you. If anything, setting goals and then failing is a far better learning curve than playing it safe and succeeding. I have learned nothing from safely succeeding.
Perhaps the decision I spent the least amount of time weighing pros and cons over was the best decision I ever made. It sort of just happened to us. We decided not to give ourselves a choice of “seeing if this will work.”
Here’s a hard truth: It didn’t always work.
We had to make a choice to love each other and commit to our marriage, to work through whatever wasn’t working at the time. Love isn’t a feeling. Attraction is a feeling. Emotion is a feeling. Love is a choice. Love can certainly create feelings, but it’s first and foremost a choice.
And I tell him this all the time.
Both things. Sometimes it’s “marrying you was the best choice I ever made.” Other times it’s “I love you, but I don’t have to like you right now.” Both make him laugh.
Let’s see what the next 15 years of wisdom brings. Hopefully more pictures of the two of us…we did a pretty bad job on that in the first decade.
Picture Credit: Image #1, Pryde Brown, 2007
Featured Image & Image #2, Katelyn James, 2019