Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reflections on Ten Years of Marriage

Us, Ten Years Later

This is marriage

I think it's fitting that we ended our ten year anniversary trip with a wedding.  Actually, the wedding is the whole reason we chose New Zealand and Australia as the destinations for our vacation.  We've spent three and a half weeks traveling, exploring, and cramming as many adventures as possible into our time Down Under.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

Two weeks of our time here were spent cruising on Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas.  Ten years ago we went on our first cruise for our honeymoon.  There were noticeable differences between that first cruise together and this one, and I'm not referring to the ship or the ports we visited.  I'm talking about us.

Bay of Islands New Zealand

On our honeymoon we spent almost every second together.  We politely listened to what each other wanted to do and took turns choosing the day's activities.  We talked and laughed nonstop, because we still had so much to learn about each other.  We were perfectly content lounging side by side next to the pool and doing nothing at all except being with one another.  It was the beginning of the rest of our lives, and the journey was barely getting started.

Fast forward to our tenth anniversary cruise.  There was no need to have a polite conversation about who took which side of the bed.  Instead of waiting to hear what each other wanted to do, we excitedly read about the ship's offerings and announced what we planned to do.  We went our separate ways on the ship for hours at a time, because we have different interests.  We aren't as careful with our words as we used to be.  We say what is on our minds. 

There's a comfort that comes with ten years.  Our guards are down.  We aren't worried what the other person might think.  We can simply

Ovation of the Seas

The first morning of our first cruise Mike woke me up at four in the morning - I'm not even kidding - and asked what I wanted to do.  Before even thinking about that question I wanted another four hours of sleep.  By now we have a routine.  Mike quietly leaves the room as soon as the gym is open, leaving me to sleep in peacefully.  He returns with a flat white in hand and quietly sets it on my nightstand before opening the curtains and letting a little sunlight inside.

I think it's fair to say that we've spend more time alone on this trip than we have in the past nine years.  We had four children within our first five years of being married.  With little ones climbing on us or running underfoot, businesses to run, commitments to honor, and day to day life to keep up with time alone isn't plentiful, as you can imagine.  Our time alone provided plenty of opportunities to rediscover what makes each other tick and to reconnect.

Hiking the Blue Mountains, Australia

This is Marriage

I'm not the person Mike married ten years ago, and he isn't the same person I married.  We've changed.  We've been stretched and molded.  We've grown together and individually, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.  Our life is nothing like what we planned in those early days of engagement.  It's not always easy or fun or exciting, but as we watched my cousin and his new bride gaze into each other's eyes our hands met and squeezed together.  The promise of forever is every bit as exhilarating now as it was on our own wedding day, not because we have some fairy tale romance but because we choose to love and honor one another.  We are ten years older, ten years more experienced, ten years wiser (hopefully), ten years more exhausted, ten years more comfortable, and ten years more invested in one another.  This is marriage.  All of it.  From walking down the aisle bright eyed and in love to being exhausted at three in morning when the baby just won't fall back to sleep to burnt dinners to the stress of buying a house together to frustrations to celebrations and everything in between.  All of it.  And I wouldn't change a thing.

North Island, New Zealand

And now, I can't wait to get home and hug my boys.  

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