So my husband and I celebrated our 6th year anniversary at the end of August. So for a whole two months I've been thinking about this post. I was going to write something along the lines of "Six Thoughts On Our Six Years of Marriage" to go along with the 5 thoughts I did last year. I tried to think of 6 new insightful thoughts but when I came down to it, I drew a blank. Who am I kidding? I'm still learning and relearning the 5 that I wrote about last year. I do have one thought though. As I reminisce and ruminate upon the last 6 years of marriage there is one thing that I've come to realize.
Marriage is the sum of many parts.
Looking back to my pre-marriage days, I realize so much of how I perceived marriage was shaped by songs, movies, and TV. Now when I watch dramas, rom coms, and Korean dramas, don't get me wrong I still love all of the above, but now that I've been married for 6 years, I can't help but snicker a bit on how love is portrayed. In the media, love is always depicted as something that takes over you, something that you cannot control. It's the driving force of love that leads people to abandon reason and do crazy things i.e. fall in love with someone your family detests, leave a life of comfort and luxury, be willing to face unbelievable hardship to be with that person etc. Once they are together and married, the story ends. I remember wondering before I got married, "What does the story look like afterwards? If love is a force that overtakes you and causes you to sacrifice your needs and desires for the happiness of the other person, what happens when all that emotion, passion, and that driving force runs out? Is love enough to carry you through a lifetime together?" Now that I have been married for six years, which I think is still just the tip of the iceberg in the grander scheme of things, I can't help but think my idea of love has completely changed.
What makes a marriage is the sum of countless decisions ranging from the significant to the menial and the mundane. It's many moments of choosing to love at the end of the night when all you want to do is pass out, choosing to forgive when he/she forgets to throw out their cola can (him) or refill the toilet paper (me), choosing not to yell when there's socks on the floor, choosing to respect your spouse's decision and support him/her even though you disagree, choosing to say what you want to say (but not the way you said it in your head) and choosing to let him have a night off (me), or let her sleep in, while you take the brunt of the morning routine (him), you choose to love that person in this way, day in and day out. Now, I know there are things that are beyond one's control that can affect a marriage. I'm not saying that ball is always in your court, everyone's situation is different, but in my experience I realize there is a lot of room to choose. And choosing one way vs another over time, changes the dynamic, scope, depth and strength of a marriage. And it's that choice or commitment on a moment to moment, to a day to day basis that perpetuates and fuels love.
Love becomes an outcome instead of a motivator.
I remember before I was married I would find people saying things like "I love my wife/husband more than when we were first married!" It puzzled me as to how that would be the case. They might as well have been Calculus experts explaining Fubini's theorem, I accept it as true, but have absolutely no idea as to how ... After 6 years of married though, I understand.
If anything happened to my husband on the eve of our marriage would I be able to move on? It would be incredibly painful but over time I think I would have been able to. At the time, I had my own identity and I knew who I was apart from him. Over the years however, we've shared so much of ourselves, so many experiences, slowly it's hard to know an identity apart from being his wife and sharing a life with him. I would have scoffed at the idea before I was married thinking, "I'll always know who I am apart from being someone's wife." but over time I can see how that can be hard and as time passes, love is not just something that fuels the marriage. Over time in receiving that person's love, in the form of daily choices, that in turn perpetuates love.
Before marriage, much of my love was based on his attributes, everything from the tangible to the visceral qualities, that I couldn't quite pin point, but all the more drew me to him. Now, though I still love the many aspects of his personality and his character, so much of my love for him is perpetuated by the daily love I receive. Love starts to take a different form, from emotions to passions to a quiet force that blurs the lines between where you start and where he begins, where that person ends up making, shaping, and forming so much of you, where you can't imagine a world apart from your other half. And it's that love, in the form of daily choices, daily decisions in a commitment to love, the melding and shaping of identities, that trumps all the love you could have ever felt on your the wedding day. It's the sum of the many parts of the marriage that fuels and perpetuates the love from your nuptials till death do you part.
So that's what I'm realizing at year 6.. maybe next year I'll have 7 insightful novel ideas on the matter, but for now I'm learning and chewing on this fact.