Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wife Rule #41: A Perfect Ten (Part One)

As of about 11:00 AM today, it's been ten years since we were married--ten, wonderful, magical years.

More accurately, it's been ten years of really hard work, starting with never-ending, bleary-eyed studying; always accompanied by annoying alarm clocks; putting up with too-frequent separations; and since adding kids to the mix, an endless stream of runny noses and definitely more dirty diapers than we could ever have thought possible. It's been ten years of all this, with magical moments thrown in as sort of a garnish.

Not to say it hasn't been wonderful. With every mundane minute spent in tasks we'd rather not do, and with every challenge we wouldn't choose, there is a corresponding reward of sorts--even if the immediate reward is no more than the satisfaction of removing one more obstacle towards achieving our much-anticipated, though short-lived moments of peace.

We both know that the elapsed time of the restful respites is usually very small compared to the quantity of time we spend working towards them, but that only serves to make them sweeter.

Remember our Hawaii trip? It was eight years after we first willingly gave up our unfettered freedom for the promises of parenthood. With the addition of each child, and the complications to our family schedule that invariable follow as they grow, it seemed that the complexity of life was multiplying exponentially, while time and financial resources certainly weren't. But with a little (okay, a lot) of help, we made it, and it was wonderful.

Remember the difference we noticed when we first committed ourselves to weekly dates? Making the change took dedication, planning, and babysitting costs that would have made us shudder if they had been part of our newlywed budget. But the rewards are tangible. We always know that no matter how busy the week is, no matter how many evenings we spend apart, or together but just scraping by, we have the golden promise of Friday night freedom to sustain us. With a little extra exertion and help, most weeks we make it, and it has been wonderful.

And on a more frequent scale, remember that each evening if we can just get the dinner eaten, dishes done, family scriptures read, family prayers said, bodies bathed, teeth brushed, bed-time stories read, and tucking-in done, that there is that magic moment after the last goodnight kiss has been given and the last stalling tactic has been thwarted, when there is the promise of a wide-open night ahead of us--albeit usually only an hour or so before exhaustion overtakes us too. Somehow or other, every night we make it, and the relief is wonderful.

But after ten years of marriage, we have come to realize something about the times alone, whether in Hawaii, on our weekly dates, or our precious daily late-evening hour: although they approximate what our carefree life was like as newlyweds, and although they are important, neccessary, and wonderful, they are no longer what is most precious to us.

The brave pioneers that tamed so much of this country had very tough choices to make when they left their homes and comforts behind. Not much can be packed into a covered wagon or a handcart, so only those things which are necessary and most precious made it to their new homes. Anything else was eventually recognized as nothing more than extra weight, and discarded along the way.

Like them, so much of what used to be important to us has fallen by the wayside, in favor of emphasizing that which is most important. The refining passage of time has worked its miracle and changed not only our habits and routines, but our very passions and identities. I am no longer the Engineer, Artist, Writer, or Singer; I am a Husband and a Father, who happens to enjoy my work, my art, writing, and singing. You are no longer the Nurse, the Dancer, the Gardener, or the Student of Fine Literature; you are a Wife and Mother who happens to enjoy nursing, dancing, gardening, and reading.

The semantic differences may seem subtle, but they are so essential.

Our occasional longing for the simple life we once knew is satisfied by our occasional bouts of carefree time alone. But the strongest magic in our marriage that will guarantee a lifetime of enjoyment is that we have learned to love--passionately--our life together, exactly as it is, dirty diapers and all. Though the challenges come at us from every angle, and often in simultaneous doses, we no longer live for Friday night, or even our alone time tonight; we have learned to live in the present, to relish in the fullness that is available to us now, whenever now is. Daily life in our happy, busy, bustling family is truly wonderful.

I have no doubt that as our life together continues to change, we will continue to evolve with it. I can't wait to see where we end up in another ten years; I'd say these first have been a perfect ten.


Brooke said...

You are a perfect 10. Thanks for all the sweet reminders about all that is perfect about our very un-perfect life. Love you.

Amy said...

Happy Anniversary, you two! Welcome to the "happily married for 10 years" club :)

Alisa said...

I loved this title and the double meaning. Congratulations!

chelse said...


LuckyMatt said...

Thanks for the well wishes!