July 21, 2007.
Tomorrow is our five year anniversary. Most people place a huge sense of importance upon the milestone anniversaries; typically those that occur in increments of five and ten. I won't tell you that this day isn't important, but I will say this: it's no more important than all the others. I believe it's more productive to focus on what you've done with your time, rather than celebrating how long you have endured something. Anyone can stick something out for years---but it doesn't necessarily make it a success.
I love that this day is an opportunity to look back on a really wonderful moment in time. A day of happiness and beginnings--it's our day. But every other day needs to be our day, too. I think it's very easy to forget about your marriage or relationship and the work involved in making it successful. The longer you are married the easier it is to forget about the work.
The flip side of being married for five years and not having children is the opportunity to focus solely on our relationship. We have no distractions, no other people in our family that are pulling us in other directions. It's a strange thing--because it's one part not our choice and one part completely of our own making. I'm not saying people with children can't have a great marriage, it's just...different. I often hear people say that they love their significant other more once they have children together. I don't know what that feels like, but I do know the greatest bond that exists in our relationship will always be the one that was forged over the fires of our inability to have children.
Things have turned out differently than we planned in 2007, but that's just life. Life was a hell of a lot simpler back then. But five years ago, I wanted the same thing I want today: to be happy. Perhaps my life isn't exactly what I imagined five years ago, but it's mine. It's ours. I wouldn't trade it for an easier one. I wouldn't go back and rewrite anything. I'd ask for the same hand to be dealt to us. Honestly, is life fair for anyone?
We are traditional people, but I love that our life has taken a very nontraditional turn. We have worked to embrace it. We never stop making the most of it. I think life is entirely too short to follow every last one of the rules laid out for you when you were a child. Happiness is what you make of it, and sometimes you have to find that part of yourself by going through something terrible. And sometimes you survive it by making your own rules as you go.
We didn't place a timeline on children when we recently decided we weren't ready to adopt a child. Sometimes, I think it may never happen--other times, I wonder if I will look back and regret that decision. I don't feel strongly either way; I'm really happy just existing in this place right now, exactly as it is.
It's difficult to predict how I will feel about being childless in 15 years, mostly because there was no possible way I could have predicted I'd ever be in this predicament in the first place. But from where I stand today, it's really not all that horrible to live without this one thing we have been denied. It is what it is.
Maybe God made us this way for a reason, I tell myself when things are quiet and my mind drifts into a place I like to call What If Territory. Ever been there? Sure, it seems like a nice place to visit. But you don't want to live there, trust me. I can't help but think: didn't the universe know something nine years ago when two people were brought together who couldn't possibly have children even if they lived together in the Twilight Zone? Don't they say God has a great sense of humor?
The bottom line is that we've spent the last 5 years fighting every last battle together--and I sincerely believe that's what marriage is about. It's hard work, and anyone who tells you it's not is lying to you. Or, in denial. It's worthwhile work, but it is work. Like everything else, anything worth having always involves hard work.
These have been both the most difficult and most wonderful 5 years of my life. I believe those things go hand in hand: the good with the bad. It makes you more appreciative. More humble. Just a bit more patient. And honestly, it makes for a pretty amazing life.
The one thing I know for sure is this: things really do get better with time.