Marriage: The highs, the lows and the space between

February 20, 2013

in Family, Special Occasions, Things that matter

Last week, shortly before our 12th anniversary, Ed and I were watching a movie. I can’t even remember what movie it was – I’m not the best at paying attention to movies. I’m usually working on my laptop.

And in the movie, the main character was nervous because he was planning to ask his girlfriend’s father for permission to propose.

“Why didn’t I ask your dad?” Ed asked.

I looked at him like I generally do when he forgets rather pertinent information. Usually, it works against him that I have the memory of an elephant. In this case, he really did want to know.

“Because he would have said no,” I responded.

“Oh, yes, that’s right,” he said.

And that’s the truth. My dad would have said no. I was 19 when I met Ed. I was 19 when we first told each other we loved each other. I was still 19 when he first suggested we should get married. He was 27.

When the marriage talk got serious – right around my 20th birthday – Ed asked me whether he should seek out my dad’s permission. I immediately said no without thought. Of course he shouldn’t. It’s one thing to just be engaged and announce it. It’s another to ask for permission, be denied, get engaged and then deal with that issue.

At the time, I remember being slightly upset, knowing that my parents would be very opposed to me marrying the person I loved. The right person for me.

Who cares how old I am?! Who cares how old he is?! I love him and I know it’s right!

Once we were engaged, just two months after my 20th birthday, they accepted it – mostly quietly when I was around, likely very vocally to one another when I was not –  and eight months after we got engaged, my parents hosted a beautiful wedding that Ed and I will always remember fondly. Our marriage began in a gorgeous place with an amazing party surrounded by hundreds of people who mattered to us.

Now that I’m a mom, I understand. If either of my children came to me at 19 or 20, not even halfway through their sophomore year of college, and told me they were marrying a 28-year-old, I’m not certain I’d react with grace.

But I really did know. I did. Maybe that’s what all 20-year-olds who get married too young say. They know. And then three-quarters turn out to be mistaken.

I did know, though. I wasn’t mistaken. We weren’t mistaken. I finished college. I went to law school. We moved near my family. Ed finished his MBA. I experienced what I wanted to experience. I knew I’d do these things.

I also knew I wasn’t a typical 20-year-old. I’d lived a lot of life up to that point. I’d dealt with a lot that most kids don’t have to deal with. I grew up years and years ahead of my time. And when I know, I know. And I knew.

Twelve years later, I still know.

I just know a lot more.

I know more about what marriage is.

It’s not just the highlight reel. It’s not strictly the amazing moments. Those matter – they matter so much.

The moment you become parents. The incredible vacations. Sharing news that seems too good to be true. Watching your children accomplish things you are certain no other child could accomplish – even though most have or will. The parties in Vegas. The trips around the world.

But marriage is more than the best. It’s also the worst. It’s the hard parts. The lows.

It’s the brokenness of crying when the pain of thinking the baby you’ve never met, but you love desperately, isn’t coming home is too much to hide any longer.

It’s the vulnerability of lying in a heap of sickness on the bathroom floor, knowing you need to go the hospital, but begging for just a little more time in case it gets better.

It’s the fear of the unknown when you decide together it’s time for a huge life change that brings with it no certainty.

It’s the support you give and receive when you’re not sure how much longer you can wait for that call from the pediatric neurologist.

It’s the grace you extend or ask for when ugly things are said that nobody means, but that come out when anger replaces thinking.

And it’s the space between. It’s the mundane or ordinary. It’s the walks to the park, the family movie nights, the days at Disneyland. It’s the time after the kids are in bed when you both put away work and just talk.

Marriage is all of it. It’s the sum of the parts. It’s a commitment to savor the highs, ride out the lows and appreciate with everything you have the space between.

Top image credit: Andrewmalone

 

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Jaime February 20, 2013 at 6:27 am

“It’s the grace you extend or ask for when ugly things are said that nobody means, but that come out when anger replaces thinking.” — beautifully said.

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Laura February 20, 2013 at 9:33 am

Thank you so much, Jaime.

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Mary Fetzer February 20, 2013 at 8:17 am

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

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Laura February 20, 2013 at 9:33 am

Thank you, Mary!

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angela February 20, 2013 at 8:51 am

Sigh. Beautifully said.

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Laura February 20, 2013 at 9:52 am

Thank you, Angela!!

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Maureen February 20, 2013 at 10:12 am

So very well written, Laura. My favorite sentiment is, “It’s the grace you extend or ask for when ugly things are said that nobody means, but that come out when anger replaces thinking.” Also that concept of the space between the highs and lows… so true and so real.

I can’t wait to read your mom’s reaction to this piece!!!!! XOXOXO

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Terry February 20, 2013 at 9:04 pm

LOL, Maureen
I responded with had Ed asked I would have told him I’d think about it…..for about twenty years (because it takes about that long to really get to know someone – well). Fortunately for me, my son in law treats me very well and with respect. I hope he feels that is mutual.
Beyond that it expresses beautifully my sentiments of marriage in a very logical eloquent way – as Laura can!

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Laura February 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Thanks so much, Maureen. Your opinion means the world to me! xoxo

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Lisa Steinke February 20, 2013 at 10:36 am

I love this. Thank you for sharing.

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Laura February 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Thank YOU for reading, Lisa!!

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Margaret Rude February 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Your articles never fail to amaze me. They are wonderful, full of insight and wisdom and so much love! Your husband and children are very very lucky to have you!

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Laura February 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Thank you for saying such a kind thing abou my writing, Margaret. That means a lot. I’m just as lucky to have them. <3

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Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) February 21, 2013 at 11:34 am

Such a beautiful post about marriage! Our full-time babysitter is 21 and getting married in 2 weeks and moving away from everything and everyone she knows. I’m writing a post about it next week and I will link to this on Two Cannoli. :)

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Laura March 1, 2013 at 12:32 am

Thank you so much, Kristin! I’m going to click over to read – I’d love to hear about it.

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Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) March 1, 2013 at 6:18 am

Laura, I’m submitting my article to the Huffington Post today (I’m a featured blogger) so stand by and watch my Facebook page for it to show up – probably next week. :) http://www.facebook.com/twocannoli

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Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) March 7, 2013 at 8:36 am

Hi Laura! The HuffPost article went live today, and links to your post. Enjoy!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-shaw/is-21-too-young-to-marry_b_2789836.html

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Michelle Maffei February 21, 2013 at 11:37 am

Thank you for taking the time to share these things, and so eloquently — you have a way of writing that puts my own life in a new light.

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Laura March 1, 2013 at 12:32 am

Thank you, Michelle!!!

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rachel February 27, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Beautiful…And we have a lot in common. I’m in charge of cataloging our family’s memories, even my husband’s memories and family history starting from long before I knew him. He’s almost 7 years older than me, and we got married when I was 20. I think that much of where we end up is all the little decisions we make along the way. Peace and love to you both…

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Mrs. Howard March 3, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I relate to a million things about it, and the longer I am married – the more I come to realize that I’m happy marraige isn’t just a highlight reel. You took the words right out of my mouth!

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Liz March 14, 2013 at 9:19 am

I loved this post and how you wrapped the marriage ties around it. Beautifully written and a lot of what you said reminded me of trying to tell my grandma I wanted to get married 40 years ago.I agree when you know something you know something.

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Ashley March 22, 2013 at 11:39 am

I recently became a parent after nearly 10 years of marriage. We were engaged at 20 and 21, and married less than two years later. Like you, we “just knew.” Our parents were skeptical but it has worked this long, despite the rough patches. Because of medication I’m taking, I worried endlessly about our child’s developing brain. I worried she wouldn’t come home, but I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl. Time will tell if there were any lasting problems from the meds, but our marriage has gotten so much stronger in only 6 short weeks. It’s amazing what the connection of children can do. Thanks for this touching post.

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Sisters From Another Mister May 29, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Late to this post … but quick to tears.
beautiful xxxx

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