Some time ago, my husband and I were grocery shopping, when we noticed an elderly couple in front of us. They were bantering the way only a couple of 40ish years of marriage could - she talked a lot, and he quietly trailed behind her, pushing their cart. As we got to the checkout, we watched them unload their items. He dropped a can, but instead of picking it up, he cleverly - as my husband called it - kicked it under the cart so it would roll to her and she would have to pick it up. Head down, a mischievous smile spread across his lips as she scolded him, naturally. We died in a muffled fit of laughter behind them.
"Is that marriage? Is that our end goal? Will that be us in 30 years? Are we even gonna last that long?" Our exchanged glances silently asked each other. We looked into our own cart to find our "some pulp" orange juice. I hate pulp, he loves it, so every week we get the "some pulp" carton. He asked once when we'd ever get the "lots of pulp" OJ - I passive aggressively said, 'When we get divorced. So it's a catch 22.'
Speaking from my all of two years of experience, I can already see what seasoned married couples warned us of. Marriage is one of the most difficult yet rewarding things any two people can undertake. It is a true labour of love.
When you're dating, you're head over heels infatuated and on a high akin to being on drugs. You don't know any better, and maybe you need that buffer to make the leap into the unknown. But once you're in the thick of it, things change. And not necessarily for the worse, but undoubtedly, the dynamic of the relationship changes.
The love transforms from the honeymoon phase into something else - let's call it mutual respect. You learn to compromise, to change your expectations, to accept your partner for who they are. You learn the value of differing perspectives, you learn to complement each others' energy, to be strong when the other needs to be weak.
Just for fun, hurdles will be placed in your way like a Mario Kart banana peel - kids, debt, parents, sickness, job loss, mid-life crises. You'll discuss boring, sometimes uncomfortable topics like household chores, schedules, and finances. You'll face the unromantic parts of life together, and you may fight, but eventually come together like a transformer to get through whatever obstacles stand in your way.
Marriage is possibly the hardest thing I've ever done. The biggest misconception is that it comes naturally - it doesn't. It takes work. It takes re-setting on almost a daily basis. It takes deep breaths, patience, and communication. It takes laughter and letting go. When you think about it, over time marriage has transformed from a business proposition to a societal expectation. It's a paradox really: 'tie yourself to me forever, and let's grow together.' Well, it's difficult enough to grow alone, as we need space to achieve that. So, if you can intertwine yourself with someone you love, function in rhythmic sync with, take on life with, and indeed happily grow together as partners as well as individuals, you're one of the lucky ones.