Monday, August 4, 2014
Five years of Marriage
A few weeks ago my husband and I celebrated our five year anniversary. When I measure the time in years it doesn’t seem like that much has passed. If I measured it in months, weeks or minutes it might seem a lot longer. What I remember of our time being married however, isn’t the days themselves it’s the way we’ve filled them. We’ve traveled across the world from Thailand to ride elephants to snorkel with sting rays in Belize. We’ve rented, we’ve bought and we’ve sold houses and acquired and thrown away belongings in-between. We’ve had a cat die and adopted a new one, quit jobs and started new ones. Our friends have come and gone and we’ve gained almost as much as we’ve lost over the past years. We had a daughter named Charlotte and it changed everything from how early we go to bed to how we spend our weekends. Life is the same as it ever was and yet different. Everything and nothing has changed in the same time.
I was asked to write a blog on what makes a marriage last five years. I thought on this for a few weeks. I’m not perfect so my marriage will never be and I believe marriage is a choice you make every day. When I thought about my marriage and my husband and about the reoccurring theme that’s popped up in my life lately the only word that comes to mind is patience.
Patience, to me, is the key to a sustainable relationship.
The same weekend of our anniversary a few friends and I went back to hike Mt. of the Holy Cross. It was a 14er I had previously written about not being able to summit due to weather and time constraints. One of my hiking companions was attempting this as her first 14er and it was not an easy beginner climb for her. None of the 14ers are easy mountains to hike but this one was 12 miles roundtrip in length, had swarms of mosquitos everywhere and 5,600 feet of elevation gain. Her struggle became my struggle as I guided her to the top and back down. It’s hard to watch someone have difficulty with something that has become so second nature to yourself. I feel the same way when I have beginners in my yoga class. I want them to enjoy the asanas and the message and the feeling they get from pushing themselves beyond what they think is their limit. Yet beginners require patience from me and from themselves in order to continue to learn and grow. It’s a relationship of trust and understanding. There’s a lot of give and take to teaching anyone a skill that you are still mastering yourself. I can tell you that the three of us hiking learned a lot about patience that day and how it extends beyond yourself and to those around you. There were times when I am sure we all wanted to give up on ourselves and each other but we never considered that an option. You can’t just quit hiking a mountain because it gets hard especially once you’re so far into it that turning around isn’t really any better an option than marching ahead. To cultivate patience in a situation that challenges every fiber of your being is to allow the ego to step aside and lead with your heart.
My friends and I ultimately summited Mt. of the Holy Cross that Saturday much in the same way my husband and I reached our five year milestone. There was struggle, there was excitement, and there was hard word and ultimately reward for continuing on the path. Patience for each other as we walked the same path together yet experiencing different emotions along the way. When I reach the summit of a mountain it’s reaching a goal and a milestone for me and I’m temporarily happy yet I know the journey isn’t over yet. There are still many more mountains to climb and much more to learn along the way. Patience is what allows me to continue to bring new people to the wilderness and open their eyes to the beauty of the mountains and it’s what’s reinforced the journey that is marriage.
Ultimately Chad is my ideal partner on and off the mountain. There are times when he’s ahead and he has to have the patience to wait for me to catch up and there are times when I’m in the lead. There have been obstacles in the path and both of us have gotten the other lost thinking the direction we were headed was best. Sometimes on our journey we’ve taken breaks when the struggle proves to be too much; other times we move so quickly we barely take in the outside world. Unfortunately in marriage there is no map of where you are supposed to go or any reports on how the terrain will be along the way. It’s mostly, what we call in mountain speak – bush wacking which is a fancy name for creating your own path when there is none. Patience is how we survive when we think we are otherwise lost. Chad and I don’t need to see any people on our path to know we’re heading the way that’s right for us because in the end that is all that really matters. Like any companion we have our share of arguments as well as times of love. We cheer each other on and we know when to give tough love. Chad is the partner who keeps me safe while allowing me to find my own way. There’s a freedom that comes with being patient with one another. You surrender the ego and to the journey and really just hope for the best that all this effort will eventually lead you to where you want to be.
Ultimately a good marriage is like a good hiking partner (and if you are lucky like me they are one in the same). It’s a relationship with someone you trust, someone you can spend large amounts of time alone with and someone who pushes you to be the best version of yourself. Marriage is sometimes letting the other person take the lead even if they aren’t the expert and allowing them to struggle and grow alongside you. Just when you think the journey is over you find out it’s really just beginning and there are many more adventures and experiences you have yet to discover. Marriage isn’t for everyone…after all some people enjoy walking the path alone. Yet I can say from my experience its far better knowing someone is waiting ahead for me, than wandering the forest alone.