Which leads me to my next thing. I want to hear about marriage. What is marriage like, for you? What does it mean? How does it change? What do you do to tend to it?
What is marriage like for me? It's awesome. In the 8.5 years that Brian and I have been married, I have never once regretted my choice. I love that I know Brian well enough to know what he would say or how he would respond to almost every situaton. I love having someone who knows me well enough to put my needs before his. (I have had to spell some things out pretty clearly, though. It's only been within the last 6 months that Brian has really learned the lesson that if I'm stressed out or upset, I need touch. Just touch me! He should have learned that a long time ago! haha!) I love the silly-stupid late night conversations we have as we're laying in our dark room falling asleep. I love looking at his face, playing with his hair, massaging his back and knowing that he's mine. I love that he chose me.
It hasn't always been easy; we had a rough patch about 5 years ago because of some personal struggles we had that affected the relationship. It was hard. But neither of us were willing to even think about throwing in the towel. And our relationship is all the better because of it. In fact, it's super strong right now. I'm in a position of not being able to much and EVERYTHING is falling on Brian. I watch him go to work every day and then come home and clean the house and prep the produce and do the laundry and then, after all that is done and he sits down to take a break, he pulls MY legs onto his lap so he can massage my calves and feet. He does it all with a smile and every time I tearfully apologize, he tells me that it's ok and he's happy to do it and he's genuine when he says it. It took 3.5 previous pregnancies for him to get here, but I'm glad for the strength we gained through our trials to get here. I know we'll have rough patches again; every marriage does. But I know that we can make it through them, too.
What does it mean to me? Everything. I believe in eternal marriage and knowing that Brian will be by my side forever is the most comforting thought on this earth.
How does it change? It changes in all sorts of ways. New jobs, moving, kids, personal growth, etc. all change how your marriage is. The great thing is that it's adaptable, as long as you're willing to work together as a team to figure it out. I've had to learn how to be clear to Brian with what my needs are in a way that he understands. I can't expect him to read my mind and we've had to come together to adapt to speak in each other's languages.
Love has been different for us over the years, but all of it is enriching and fulfilling if we let it be. (Sometimes we've each been to prideful to let it fulfill us for a time.)
What do I do to tend to it? I love this quote:
"If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by." -F. Burton Howard
We both try to serve each other. Sometimes, it's focused more on one of us. Right now, it's all focused on my. When we were preparing for Hong Kong, it was all focused on Brian. I think it's ok that marriage is not always 50/50. I don't think you don't learn to give selflessly if you never have to give more and you never see your spouse giving more to you. It helps that we're both willing to make sacrifices for each other.
Other things we do: We read scripture and pray together every night. (We've only missed 2 nights in our whole marriage, even being separated by oceans and no cell phone signals.) I think that doing something together as a daily ritual is a great way to come together each day and reset.
We make our marriage the most important relationship in our lives. We love our children and give them our all, but our relationship with each other is more important. If we focus on having a strong relationship with each other, parenting is easier. We're allies in parenting. Our children grow up with an example-relationship that is based on love and respect of each other. I think it's one of the most important gifts I can give to my children; the gift of a great relationship with their father.
Kelly, I've watched your relationship with David through pweb and facebook and I have to say, I don't know that I've ever had more confidence in people that I've seen entering marriage. You guys have taken great care of your relationship and of each other. I think you're going to have one of the best marriages ever.
Ok, I've rambled a lot and since I have a headache, I'm not going to go edit, so please forgive clarity issues.