A decade (or even shorter) ago, I didn’t put much faith in marriage. I couldn’t blame me. At that time, all of my family members who had ever been married had also been divorced, often several times each. I didn’t have anyone to look up to. I had no example that marriage can really work. And, as a teen, I was rebellious enough to not understand what a piece of paper meant. I’d been in love a few times by the time I decided you didn’t need to get married. It didn’t mean anything more than if you were seriously committed to dating. I certainly never saw myself marrying.
And then I met a boy. I fell in love with that boy and, for the first time in my life, experienced happiness the way princesses do in fairy tales. Despite the fact that my every experience screamed that true love doesn’t exist and it’s useless being romantic, I found myself becoming romantic and believing in true love. When that boy proposed, I said yes, like I knew I would. I had known for some time because the idea that I wanted to spend my life with that boy had snuck up on me and planted itself firmly. I had hope.
As I re-evaluate my marriage, and face the idea that I may not be married “until death do us part” (even though, those words were not in our vows), it’s hard to hold on to that hope. Divorce is, if not entirely a start over, at least dramatically life altering. My husband and I share a home, possessions and pets. We share insurance and cell phone plans. While all those things are material and I can ultimately rebuild, they only signify the fact that we share a life together. All the material things serve to represent the emotional things we have come to share: love, trust, confidences, strengths, weaknesses and deepest, darkest secrets. Not to mention the sheer amount of time we have dedicated to one another.
The fall seems so much further, now. Being married has changed my perception about marriage. It’s not just a piece of paper and divorce is not just breaking up. In fact, I’m not sure if I can think of anything more appalling at this moment than the idea of divorce. If the idea of divorce is appalling, the idea of no longer being married to my husband is heart stopping. Perhaps the reason marriage has transformed in my mind, is simple because I do love him so much that, while I may not always remember it, I cannot imagine not spending every day of the rest of my life married to him.
Perhaps if I had remembered that all along, we would not be where we are now and I could simply be celebrating marriage and love and commitment. Instead, I am contemplating my life without those things and nothing could be more difficult.