The above photo is dated 1997 and taken by my husband John. It is a picture of the two of us as young budding 16 or 17 year olds. We have been together for 18 years now… save you the trouble of the math on that one we have been together since the spring of 8th grade. We met and have been crazy about each other ever since.
Noting that- it doesn’t mean we were never interested in others before we were married, but we just never pursued other relationships very far at all. We aren’t perfect- some people have said to me— “Well you two must never fight.” Ha! Relationships take work and an effort from both people. We’ve had our ups and downs.. our struggles to find balance between us and the balance is hard to find. The balance is even harder as parents and then again those who fell in love so young.
It is hard enough growing up attempting to define yourself much less stay with another person and accept their change and growth. In that growth and change, you will have differences and things will be different than before… it is impossible for either of us to remain the person we met in 8th grade… or as high school kids… or as college kids… we became before we married. It’s about balance while accepting changes in the one you love. John called me one night during college. It was snowing and he was standing outside of the architectural college he hoped he could get into and an epiphany hit him. That is not what he wanted to do. He wanted to do theater and he wasn’t sure why he had pursued this to begin with… He called me to see if it was okay with me, because he knew that would change our goals a great deal. I’m still a little offended he called me, because it really wasn’t up to me. He chose theater and that’s what he did with success and passion.
If you have ever been in our home you have undoubtably noticed this odd art work in our home. This is where we folded 1001 cranes for our wedding. We had read that if a couple could fold 1001 cranes in Japanese tradition- they would be able to do anything together. I say often in jest that I concluded from the project that if we are to get anything accomplished that required great detail, concentration, determination, and organization- together that it would be me doing a good 90% of the work. I didn’t fold all of the cranes by myself, but I really did fold most of them. Honestly, that’s okay and that’s how most things work around here. As far as lists, cleaning inside the home, organizing, vacation planning, school/lessons for the kids… etc. John pays the bills- Thank God! and mows the grass, cooks a few nights week, and many other things. John is a great father and gives me a breather most evenings bathing the children and putting them to bed after I have spent the majority of the day with little people. By the time he gets home I desire to be the laissez-fiare parent. This is a balance we still struggle with weekly…. okay daily.
John and I have very different friendships. He has no one he “feels” particularly close with in the sense that if he were struggling he could just pick up the phone and talk candidly besides his father and myself. He has lots of play friends though where he has a good time with them… silly things like play tag football or go sing karaoke, but he is often there for other friends that need a shoulder to lean on… and he listens.. he’s a great listener. I have several female friends that at the drop of a hat would listen, chat, pick me up and give me a ride, shop with me, act entirely stupid with me… or even watch my kids in a pinch. They are all great organizers and would have to have several drinks before we hit the karaoke mic. My friends and John’s friends don’t mesh well all the time. So I have to bring my more outgoing self out while with his friends as to fit in and he has to tame it down for mine, but it works for us. Not all of our friends understand our relationship and that’s okay. They don’t have to… it’s not their relationship. Friendships are probably the most important part in being an individual, but time together as well as time alone must be balanced.
Hobbies must be balanced. If you are active in hobbies that take away from your family more than a couple of evenings… yea it’s probably too much on the other person and your family. This is something we struggle with often. My hobbies are mostly in the home, but that is changing. John’s hobbies are all outside of the home.
Where do you find the time for you – both of you- if you don’t set it aside – if you both have hobbies a couple of nights a week- kids swim lessons- birthday parties- professional obligations- church responsibilities- working on the weekend—- where do you find this time. You must make it- sadly often this is where we drop the ball. Time for just the two of us is often spent with my friends, his friends or a mesh of friends. It is hard to find time for just the two us that doesn’t involve other things. We fill our schedules so full of activities- for our family- our friends- and our hobbies that we rush through the grocery store detesting it because we filled our schedule so full we don’t have enough time to do everything we need to do.
John and I were married on July 5th, 2003. Yes, we are about two weeks from our tenth wedding anniversary. Sadly, at a time where the average U.S. marriage has already ended by the 8th year…. we have made quite the accomplishment. Certainly, most of these people have not been together for 18 years either. We had very humble beginnings to our marriage… how we survived off of $1100 a month, in our first couple of years while paying student loans, rent, and other bills is beyond me. We took a very simple honeymoon to Washington, DC. We borrowed a car just to get there- the old “green bean” (our car) had died that week- and we even went camping one night because it was cheaper. We promised each other that if we made it to our tenth anniversary we would take an amazing trip. No we aren’t going to some exotic island. All we would do is burn!
So in keeping with our promise that we made to each other years ago…. we leave June 28th to embark on our anniversary trip. Yes, I might have talked it to death to some of our friends at this point! (Sorry Crystal) I’m so excited I would tell a perfect stranger about it if I got the chance. Yes, I planned most of the trip (darn those cranes). John is just as excited though, because you see, even though we are not perfect, we are balanced and we are still very much in love. We respect each other and who we have grown into and are willing to work with the persons that we will become.
Are we taking the kids? NO!!!!!!! They will be watched by some close friends and family and don’t worry I’ve got that all organized too.
This is a time for each other- making up for quality time we missed along the way. We have been truly blessed. I’m so thankful that even in moments of change and growth we only love each other more and not less.