Sunday, September 29, 2013

17 years and counting...

It was another beautiful fall day. The trees were plump with ripe leaves, my very favorite mixture of colors covered the mountain behind the beautiful Orthodox church that day. The sun was shining in the clear blue sky. As the frost from the morning thawed everything dripped with a heavy dew. But I didn't notice any of that.

Because today was my wedding day.

I was nineteen. I was naïve. I was bashful. I was self doubting. I was ready to dedicate the rest of my life to my friend of five years who claimed to love me. Was this the "right" decision? That remained to be seen...

He was a gangly "geek" if you will. Geeky in most things like most geeks are...computers, Star Trek, Star Wars, Church theology, politics, etc. He was my opposite, if you will. He was also not at all like my father and not at all the type of person I had imagined marrying some day. But was that a bad thing? I was an Alaskan girl, after all, the state is full of robust hunter like men in all of their manly glory. Was I "supposed" to marry someone like my father? Someone less geeky perhaps? Someone less zealous in life? Someone less intent on having silly old me for themselves?? I really couldn't decide, you see, I hadn't "fallen in love" with him.

He certainly had with me. He had some compelling arguments and had great wit and humor that he used to try and convince me. I had to rely on my gut as my guide. His arguments did convince me that he would never leave me. His arguments convinced me that he loved me and that loving a wife is a husband's job. He convinced me that he had a great career, that he was awesome at what he did and that he would be a great provider so that I could be a mother (my life's dream was to be a stay-at-home-mom).

But, what if?

My indecision caused him great stress (not to mention my own stress). He was patient with me and didn't push me. I wanted to cancel the wedding and he said that was fine. My friend asked me, "do you love him?!" and I had to say yes, but I didn't think I really meant it. But the thing that really stuck in my craw was "Well, what if I let him go?  He runs off and eventually finds himself another woman?" No, that just wouldn't do. I was jealous of him before I ever thought I loved him and before he was mine.

That jealousy caused me to commit to him. I realized that if nothing else, even if I never had those warm fuzzy "in love" feelings that he would love me, take care of me and, if nothing else, be my friend. My gut and my head won the argument against my "heart" because it didn't know what the heck it was doing.

Seventeen years later I am here to report.

I realized those fuzzy feelings are typically feelings of lust. I have lusted my husband on and off for 17 years. Other men too. I tell him about those feelings as he tells me about his. We don't get upset or hurt by it for some reason...many other friends think we're crazy to talk about our "crushes" or "dang, he's hot" sort of things with each other. I don't know why we do it, but we do. The feelings and crushes disappear as soon as we confess them to each other too.*

Love is something different. Love is giving of yourself, it's HARD to love, because love is actions. Constant attention to the person you're supposed to be loving. That is difficult work. I personally suck at it. I didn't realize, until this year that I've had a wall up in our marriage for 17 years. The wall of self hate. That wall has caused me to not let my guard down, not be really giving of myself. This year, I had a giant light bulb go on in my brain and it blew my mind. I have not been the same since.

"You can't truly love someone else until you love yourself."

Very simple, but very true. It his changed me. It has changed the way I see people. It has changed the way I react to people. It has changed the way I talk, treat, respect and act to those closest to me. The ones who needed me to change are beginning to see the new/real me. The one who finally sees that God loves me like His child that I am, and with that true knowledge, it will drastically change a person.

All of this to say simply this:

17 years of marriage is very hard, very good, but mostly hard. It can, however, be done. You have to LOVE, give up your own will constantly, and take a verbal beating from time to time. Conflict in marriage is not a bad thing. If you don't ever fight you won't figure anything out. If you have the capability to simply discuss with no feelings involved, more power to you. My husband is quite fiery and I have discovered I am as well. So our fights are LOUD!

After 17 years of being married to this man I am now: the mother of 6 amazing children, the owner of a self made business of 10 years that I run from my home, not self doubting, still a little bashful in person at first, probably still naïve, confident and self admittedly, awesome.

I thank my husband for most of this (not all, after all, I am awesome). Not only for sticking with me, but encouraging me to come out of my shell, to embrace some of my more insane ideas and run with them. To remind me that I am awesome and I can do great things if I put my mind to it.

The cool thing is that as time has gone on he has grown less geeky and more robust. He has even started hunting in the last five years (that's hot). I think he's very handsome and am VERY glad he's not out there with some other woman. I'm glad he's mine, all mine.

*Please note that this practice of sharing so honestly is NOT for everyone. I am confident in the knowledge that he will never leave me and that is why I don't get offended when he says such things. Most women are not this secure and so I believe this would be hurtful in many marriages, not a positive thing.


BaronessBlack said...

Lovely post!
Many Congratulations, and Many Years!

Grace said...

Well said, Anna. Well said. Love you two!

Carol G said...

That is a great write-up. I'm very glad that you have learned to love yourself and have found that as a way to love others more fully too.

Joanna {a pretty cool fat chick} said...

I love this.

Mara said...

I loved this. Thanks, Anna. You ARE awesome. This almost brought me to tears. This October I will be beginning my marriage. Whoa.