I’m going to write a serious post. I know this is not particularly common for me, but I promise the world is not ending. I just got an idea that happens to be less stream of consciousness than my other ones and I wanted to share it.
Today is Will’s 27th birthday and today I was once again confronted with the idea that he is not “The One”. I’m not saying that I want to divorce him, in fact I love him more and more each day as we grow closer together in our marriage and our adventures abroad. However, I don’t think Will is “The One”. I don’t think this because I don’t believe that there is such thing as the one person you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Will agrees.
This morning, after I gave Will some birthday snuggles and drank a cup of coffee, I read this article. It speaks to this idea better than I probably could, but at some points it sounds like it was written by my own hand. The article is instigated by the announcement that Nicholas Sparks and his wife are getting divorced and that this fact is going to ruin the romantic lives of millions of girls/women across the world. A sort of “if the god of romance can’t make it work, how will my relationship ever have a chance?”
Frankly, I would like to give women a little more credit than that. I don’t think that we are all simpering idiots that bumble around aimlessly trying to find our “soul mates” and then upon finding this person believe that we will never have to work at the relationship anymore because they were “meant to be with this person”. Nobody really believes that. Or do they?
I must admit, Will sort of felt like my soul mate from the very beginning of our friendship. We just got each other and laughed at the same things and could challenge each other and be honest with each other from the very beginnings. And even when we started dating, we had such great communication skills. We were so willing to approach the hard topics. If we were hurt by something the other said, we would address it. If we came to an impasse, we would struggle through it together (even if we ended up not agreeing). It did seem easy at first. However, as the relationship made the change from “we like each other” to “we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together”, something about that communication became harder. Suddenly there were bumps on the road that didn’t appear to be there before. The soul mate illusion started to fade.
And then we got married.
Granted, our marriage journey has not exactly been typical. Will had just graduated from graduate school. We were both in the process of moving into a temporary space, so we had to decide what we would need for the next two months and what we should immediately put into storage. We were dealing with all the millions of problems that come with moving to foreign countries. We had to pack….which presented all sorts of problems. We had to do legally things and make arrangements for our car and our stuff and our jobs and I had to get re-approved for ordination, since I hadn’t gotten a call in 3 years. That meant re-writing an approval essay and finding time to get interviewed. Then there was the leave-taking with families scattered across the country in 5 states (Fortunately, two of our family members had moved into states with other family members, so we could cut it down from 7 to 5). It was a bit overwhelming in ways that many other people don’t get to experience. This all amped up the normal stress of beginning a life together.
We ran headfirst into the realization that marriage is HARD!
It’s not like we didn’t know it was going to be hard. When we were doing pre-marital counseling, the person who analyzed our Prepare and Enrich quiz told us that we had some of the highest stress indicators and levels, but the lowest “reality distortion” levels she had ever seen. But going into marriage with your eyes open doesn’t make it less hard. I promise, it doesn’t. Yet, we should all be going into our marriages with our eyes open to at least some of the difficulties of what it takes to commit to another person.
We choose to make our other, our “one”.
It is a choice, not an appointment from on high.
Yesterday Will and I went to see “The Best of Me”, the newest installment of Nicholas Sparks on the big screen. We like chick flicks. They are generally cute and always filled with angst. And with Nicholas Sparks, there is always the element of extreme tragedy that simultaneously pulls you in and makes you want to punch Nicholas Sparks in the face. What makes us want to mutilate the author? He inevitably breaks up true love with death or disease.
True love is supposed to last forever!
This is the disturbing piece of the stories of love that pop-culture tells us. Cinemas and romance novels make it sound and look so easy. People who are meant to be together stay together, against all odds and outside forces. Right?!
I don’t believe that there are any two people that are destined to be together forever. Our love stories are not written in the stars. We cannot rely on the fates to keep us in our marriages or blame our failings in our relationships on the “I guess we were just not meant to be” mindset. When we make a commitment to marry someone, we should not be blindly walking into the pop-culture worldview that we were brought together by destiny so nothing can tear us apart. It is fantastical view more than just about anything else that punches holes in our real life marriages. We do not live in a fairy tale.
When we marry another, we are making a conscious choice everyday to love and cherish, protect and preserve, be honest and be authentic, to and with this person. This greeting from our own wedding is a good reminder to me, “Katie and Will have come here freely so that their loving relationship may become a permanent union. The essence of this commitment is to join with another person as lover, companion and friend.”
There is no such thing as “The One”, but when we openly and freely bind ourselves to another person, we make that person “Our One”. And we, as two individuals also become one entity. And I think that is so much more beautiful and freeing than the feeling of being required to be with someone else because they were made for you in eternity.
Will could have been another person. But he’s not. Will is my one because I chose to enter into this union with him and I will fight to keep him as my other half.
I choose to love you.