My husband and I are celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary this week. We will be doing so in the time honoured tradition of any parents spending a rare night away from their small people, by crashing out at about 9:00pm in our hotel room.
Although 10 years of our lives together have been as man and wife, we have been together for nearly 22 years. I was just approaching my 15th birthday when I asked this boy in the year above me that I had a bit of a crush on, if he would ‘go out with me’.
I practiced my signature with his name as my surname when I was 15 years old because, well, I was a girl and I was 15 years old, and that’s what 15 year old girls do. But I had no idea that his name would become mine. I didn’t know then that he was ‘the one’.
Our relationship evolved over time. We changed as individuals over time. I went from a school girl, to a student, to a young woman trying to forge a career and ‘get ahead’. In that time we became car owners, and then home owners with financial responsibilities. We became parents. Then we did it again and three became four. So many huge life changes (and hairstyles – mainly his) mean that I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that I am not the girl that he first fell in love with. I don’t have posters of Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix on my bedroom wall anymore.
Any one of those changes could have de-railed our relationship. It hasn’t all been plain sailing. What relationship is? But there is a lot of truth in cliches; what doesn’t break you, makes you.
We have both spent our relationship changing and adapting to the different people we have become. Figuring out those compromises when you first move in together. The habits you can live with, and those you can’t.
We have yet to find a movie at the cinema that we both really want to see. I think there are probably two bands that we agree make great music. I don’t think we’ve ever read the same book. He comes alive in a crowd, I disappear. He finds farting hilarious, I don’t. For us, it is true that ‘opposites attract’.
Is my husband the father to my children that I though he would be? No. But then I am not the mother that I thought I would be. We all have pre-conceived ideas about parenting before the small people arrive and turn our world upside down with a huge dose of reality and sleep deprivation. There’s times we come together and high five each other for our fantastic team work as parents. There’s times we argue because we are not ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’. But I have a whole new appreciation for him and our little world we created together. When I see him with his arms full of our giggling boys and his love for them, it chokes me every time. It binds me closer to him.
We are not lucky. We put time and effort into our marriage. We have highs and lows, we see each other at our best and worst. He witnessed a monumental PMT induced emotional breakdown in the middle of B&Q, because they didn’t have the exact shade of cream paint that I wanted. And he stuck around!
Neither one of us knows what the future holds. Friends break up and it rocks your world. If it happened to them it could happen to us. Our wedding album is a sorry story of failed relationships and break ups. We are no different to our friends. But I have to hold onto the fact that this is the man I chose to grow old with. And he chose me. That’s what makes me lucky, that I am the one he wants to spend his life with.
There are times I’m not sure where I end and he begins. We’ve been together so long that sometimes I doubt whether my thoughts are my own or his. His smile, the one that is just for me, lights me up from the inside. When he wraps his arms around me I feel safe. In an unfamiliar place and a crowded room, his face is home.
You can’t change the little things. He will never wipe the crumbs from the chopping board, and he will always be the last to be ready. I will always drive him mad by twisting the seat-belt and leaving the landing light on. But hopefully our love will continue to change and grow with all the challenges that life throws at us.
The 15 year old boy I once had a crush on, is now a man. My husband, and the father to our children. I love him more now than ever before.
I am not a relationship expert. I’m not sure what makes one. Someone who has read lots of books and studied psychology? Someone who has been in a lot of relationships? Or someone like me, who has only ever had one serious relationship? Each I’m sure would have different advice. Every relationship is different. But my advice, for what it’s worth, is to embrace the changes. If you stay the same, chances are that you’ll be left on your own. You don’t change for someone, but with them.
Oh, and don’t sweat the small stuff!
To my Mr K. You rock. x
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