A guest post from Gemma Hartley...
I was sixteen when I met my husband — though I didn’t know it then. At the time it was all fun and games and a little bit of self-gratifying drama. Sneaking off campus during lunch breaks, making out at house parties, and always talking about “someday.”
It was hard, fast, clumsy falling in love.
Then it was college and moving into a tiny apartment of our own where one night he said “let’s get married,” and we drove down to the store and bought some sparkling cider because we were too young to drink. It was a haze of dresses and flowers and photos cut from bridal magazines that eventually turned into a walk down a small church aisle – into our life together.
And I’d heard it was supposed to be hard or tenuous, this whole marriage thing, but it wasn’t at all. Not yet. Not for us. And secretly, I would think to myself, not ever.
I couldn’t imagine a day when every word would grate my nerves, when I would seethe over small things left undone, when those socks flung on the living room floor after a long day would seem malicious. I couldn’t imagine I would ever feel unappreciated or unloved in the slightest. I couldn’t imagine being too drained to make love or too tired to talk or too exhausted to be kind.
I had imagined all these ways our lives would change as we grew up, but never stopped to think about how we would change over the years – and how hard that would be.
Falling in love is the easy part. Buying the dress, planning the party, saying the vows – it’s your own little fairytale come to life. Starting your life together is all excitement and big plans and self-indulgent dreams.
Where you are a few years down the road, when parenting and life changes hit you hard and you’re shifting skins into the next versions of yourselves and trying hard to keep those promises you made to each other when everything was rose-colored and wonderful, that’s the hard part.
This, right here, is the hard part.
Because there is nothing like becoming parents to test the bounds of your love for each other. When you bring another life into the world it comes at the cost of your hearts and your patience. The late nights and middle of the nights and early mornings when all you want to do is lie face down in covers and have your partner take over. The score-keeping of dirty diapers and chores and meals cooked that we try not to keep track of, but we do anyway.
This, right here, is when we choose to stay in love. When marriage becomes more work than we bargained love would take, and though we are weary we say “yes, I still do.” When we realize where we once fit so snug, we’re now growing and stretching the seams to their breaking point – we pull out our sewing kit instead of the waste bin. This is when we fight for our love, even if, in some moments, we lose sight of it.
Because our love is worth it.
And this love is worth more.
SHARE: How old were you when you got married? Have you gone through a rough patch?