I can’t remember exactly when I decided that getting married would be a good idea. But I do remember why. Growing up, my parents modeled a loving marriage for us kids, and over time, it seemed like a natural progression that I would want to find a soulmate of my own and have children. Don’t misunderstand, my home was what my husband (lovingly?) calls a crazy circus. Both my parents worked full-time, and they definitely struggled to find that elusive work-life balance. I remember my father rushing home on his lunch break to read Sleeping Beauty to me before rushing back to teach his afternoon classes. I rarely saw my mum before 7pm on weekdays, but she worked hard to cook special meals for us even before setting off for work everyday. They had a punishing schedule, but they worked in tandem – almost like one body, making it all happen. While there were harsh words spoken and impatient sighs as in any home, there was a mutual respect and love that blanketed it all. Now, well into their 60s, my father still tells my mother she looks beautiful every time they step out together. And my mother’s voice and demeanor soften when she speaks of him.
I wish we had more examples of such healthy marriages. Because it was this, and not the government’s financial incentives which convinced me that maintaining a happy marriage was viable. Even as I worked impossible hours, had personal dreams and goals I wanted to pursue – and the world was telling me not to put it all on hold for a man and a baby, my parents had shown me all my life that with some savvy-thinking, sacrifice and good scheduling, it would be possible to fit marriage into an already full life.
I learned a precious lesson. Marriage is not marrying the perfect spouse, or even having a conflict-free relationship but about exercising love, respect, forgiveness and patience. And above all, taking time to connect and communicate to keep the ‘spark’ alive.
Marrying relatively young at 26, the best decision we made as a couple was attending a marriage preparation course that my home church offered. In the 4 years that we spent staring moony-eyed at each other over countless cups of coffee, not once did the Husband ever mention wanting five children (FIVE!). Or that he felt a mother should stay home with the kids for the first few years at least. He was equally stunned to hear that I expected him to do the housework and grocery shopping – but nothing quite beat his expression when he heard how much I spent on grooming each month. The course was a good neutral ground to thrash out our issues and come to a compromise.
A definite upside to marrying young is that we’ve had our kids Micah and Ezra early on. These early childhood years are the most exhilarating and exhausting I’ve ever experienced, but the Husband and I agree, as we collapse in bed each night , we are glad to have the energy and spirit to run, skip, hop and crawl (don’t ask) with them.
Thank you Papa and Mummy for the life lessons! 🙂 I hope I do as good a job with my family as you did with us.
Judith Xavier is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about Family-Life issues. Together with her husband of 6 years, she spends her down-time exploring new playgrounds with her two young sons, Micah and Ezra.