Happy 10 Year Anniversary!

I’m posting this entry, which has been in my head for the past 6 months (and also which Daniel has approved), as a tribute to love. For those of you who know the extent of the circumstances that Daniel and I faced in our marriage 3 years ago, you can attest to the fact that it was only self-sacrificing love and forgiveness (which is a form of love) that saved us.

I’m posting this for those of you who beat yourselves up over failed relationships. I’m posting not to make you jealous that mine has survived, but to say I grieve with you and am certainly more able to understand that people change, sometimes doing things you would never expect them to do. I hope you will never define yourself by a failed relationship, but live in the hope that there is something better for you.

I’m posting this for the singles and the couples who haven’t experienced rough times in their relationships. Believe me – they will come. This is NORMAL. My MIL told me before I got married that I would wake up some day and not want to be married to Daniel. If I remember correctly, she said it would happen, not it might happen. Take heart when it happens. You will survive too.

Most importantly, I’m posting this as a thank you to my husband who crawled with me through thin and thick and thicker to get where we are today. You are indeed my best friend.

 

Dear Daniel,

Happy 10 Year Anniversary! I love you! I can honestly say I love you and I appreciate you exponentially more today than I did 10 years ago. The next thought that comes to mind is – “It’s been the best of times. It’s been the worst of times” – to paraphrase Dickens. I’m just being honest – you and I both know it, probably like many spouses in marriages that have survived a decade. We’ve had some extraordinary highs over the past 10 years as well as some overwhelming lows. It’s true many of the lows didn’t originate from our marriage, per say; however, we also know some of them did.

Had I known our marriage’s journey after its start on August 10, 2002 – the day that lawfully bound us together, we both know I would have run… far, far away before I ever said “I do.”

I’m simple… cautious… conservative… predictable. Life with you has tested my limits in all of these areas – sometimes because that’s just life and sometimes because of us. I knowingly think about the engaged couple I heard about on fb that found a bottle of gorilla glue sitting beside their marriage license a few days before their wedding. The license issued by the state for a nominal fee; the glue was a “gift” from the groom’s parents. The married parents knowing from experience the things they could not impart to their offspring and soon-to-be offspring-in-law, mostly because you have to experience it before you’ll understand it.

“Marriage is hard work” we were told over and over before we tied the knot. I’m not one to shy away from hard work, so it didn’t bother me. “Bring it on – I can work hard, especially beside this man that I love,” I thought. But what we weren’t told – or maybe what we couldn’t understand – was that it’s a different kind of work than any we had experienced before. One that is totally self-sacrificing at times and ALL consuming – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Marriage isn’t 50/50 as I originally thought it to be; it’s 100/?. You give 100% of yourself even if you feel your spouse isn’t giving 100% because the only person you can control is you. It’s the type of work that requires you to give and give and give – sometimes without seeing any benefits. A kind of work that requires you to forgive, even when you’ve been truly wronged and can be totally justified in “staying wronged,” demanding justice and looking for payback. A kind of work that at times makes you agree whole-heartedly with the apostle Paul that it is better to remain single than to get married. I know we’ve both felt these things over the years, and neither of us is without blame for turmoil we have caused the other or words we have spoken rashly, damaging each other to the core.

But all that work HAS!! been worth it. We certainly have had many wonderful times too – chuckling over the kids’ cute antics, having some friendly competition at the Village Greens, or  riding in the car with sun roof open while we’re holding hands, feeling like we’re 19 all over again – not to mention experiencing our kids coming into this world. (Oh… and that awful stomach virus night years ago when we spent 8hours passing each other on the way to hug the throne. You lost 5lbs, and I lost 7lbs coupled with passing out and falling facefirst into our cast iron tub. We laugh about it now… even though I’m still not exactly sure how we survived that night.) I don’t want to share those moments with anyone else. I dare say these past few months have been some of the sweetest we’ve ever known together. I know that our work has brought us closer in ways I can’t begin to describe. I’ve wondered if we would be as close as we are now without all the work we invested in “us.” I know that my heart still melts when you take my hand or tell me you think I’m pretty. I look forward to you coming home after work or having dinner with just you – as seldom as that happens. But most importantly, I know that through having my limits stretched I have learned volumes about love. Not the sexy, heart-thrilling love I thought made a marriage good, but the kind of love that says “I’ll stick by you when the going gets tough… really tough… more-than-you-think-you-can-bear tough.”  Having been where we once were – not even sure what it meant to “love” each other anymore and thinking there wasn’t any. way. possible. to make “us” work another day longer, words cannot describe how much more hearing “I love you” means to me now than it did 10 years ago.

Yes, marriage is HARD! work. I believe it now; and if I ever forget it, you can always remind me of the year after Ian was born when my weight dropped to middle school range because of our marital stress and its very near collaspe. But it is also wonderful and fulfilling. I thank you for working hard for me and with me and for teaching me so many things. I am so thankful to have you by my side – my best friend, my lover, my partner. I look forward to many, many more years of sticking by you – and having fun! May we laugh often together, my love.

Happy Anniversary!
Love, Always and Forever,

Natalie

 

 

Just had to put this pic in because it is the only digital picture we have of our wedding. Times have changed even in 10 years.