What Marriage Means

Marriage is often portrayed as the end of the journey: the final goal of the heroine in fairy stories, Jane Austen, Bridget Jones (or any number of ‘chick flicks’). For the hero, it’s the end of the road in another way: the end of fun, passion, and freedom. For me, however, the meaning of marriage can be summed up in the utterance of those 3 magic words. The thrill of hearing the phrase ‘I love you’ fall from his lips for the first time was nothing to the deep satisfaction of hearing this: ‘you were right’, for those words were a true gift, delivered at some personal cost. I would even go so far as to say they meant more than a thousand ‘I love you’s.

Without both of us having said those words at some point, we would never have got married. It was amazing, really, how long it took him to figure out that I am always right (ha ha, just kidding, of course. I have been wrong on at least 2 occasions in the last 7 years…).

In the early days, we had plenty to argue about, as we attempted to mould ourselves and our two only children into a family unit. Here were two very stubborn, very determined people, who had spent the last few years dominating the home environment, now suddenly being expected to give way to the other; to compromise, negotiate, share…It was a terrible shock to both of us. The children often had to split us up.

After I had decamped to my parents’ house, following one particularly intractable difference of opinion, the children said ‘We think you need seperate rooms. We have a room to go to when we are getting on each other’s nerves, but you have to share a room.’

We tried again. We gave each other more space, we discussed our differences of opinion, parenting style, routines. We said those words (‘sorry’, ‘you were right’, ‘ok, my child isn’t perfect’). We turned our stubborn natures from fighting one another to the business of making the relationship last. Our wedding day was testimony to the fact that we had stuck it out.  There had been tears and tantrums, but now I was wearing a tiara. We were a family in every sense of the word.

It was like the end of a story, the reaching of a goal.

Now, I pause at the summit of the mountain we just climbed and wonder if it is downhill from here on?

The children are now at high school, I’ve taken a full-time job. The wedding is no longer looming on the horizon, and the family is now a given, something we can all take for granted. It seems as if everyone is looking outwards, no longer pre-occupied with internal struggles at home.

Maybe this is where ‘life’ begins.


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