I seriously cannot believe that it has been that long. Cliche or not, the past seven years have flown by (or crawled by in some instances). I swear, it was honestly yesterday that I was saying yes to marry Graham (we don't say "I do" in the marriage ceremony in the LDS temple).
I remember bawling my eyes out yet also listening to my stomach growl embarrassingly loud during the 3 PM (? is it weird I don't remember the actual time we got married) sealing ceremony.
I remember my panic and anxiety attacks pre-engagement.
I remember our first kiss in a church parking lot after seeing Spiderman 3 with friends.
I remember our first real date during the Cinco de Mayo festival on the Portland waterfront.
I remember saying I love you for the first time under the stars on the Oregon Coast.
And so many other moments in the meantime.. But I'm not going to go through all of the high- and low-lights of the almost eight years we've been together. I'm here to talk about what I've learned and felt.
Seven years is really not that much time in the long-term perspective, but in a 30-something's life span, it sure seems like a lot, especially considering that I got through college and grad school in the same amount of time.. And I changed and learned a lot during that time of my life. Although I gained a substantial amount of knowledge during my college years, I still lacked understanding of relationships and love. Marriage is one of the best teachers and motivators of change for personal lives (as long as you're willing to learn and change).
Graham has taught me, intentionally or not, about the power of forgiveness in personal relationships. Sure, there may be instances in which a personal relationship should be ended when offense has been given, but forgiveness can be utilized even in situations where irreparable harm has been done. Forgiveness has been given to us by God to truly free us from entanglements and resentments. When exercised to its full potential, we can move on, be free again to love others, and not be weighed down by our past. I never considered myself to be a particularly forgiving person, as I clearly remember when people have hurt my feelings or did wrong against me. But, after all I've been through, I feel like I can forgive people of their trespasses, little and big. Someone called me a "saint" for getting back together with Graham, but I don't even come close to meeting that description (HA). Marriage is fraught with interpersonal conflict, hurtful things done/said, and little annoying things that build up into big frustrations. By holding on to old hurts, pains, and resentments, it can cloud your view of your spouse and forever taint anything good or new they ever do. If you're always looking at your spouse with poop-colored glasses, you'll just forever be dissatisfied. Nothing your spouse will say or do will ever be right. Without regular acts of forgiveness, true love within a marriage is not possible.
Graham has taught me about honest, true love, and what that means as a married person. It does not mean that we will be blissfully happy and walking on clouds every day/month/year of our life. It doesn't mean that we will always be able to make each other happy. Sometimes, our relationship will feel more like work than love (or more work than fun). I don't get butterflies when my husband enters the room (I saw someone post that and I kind of rolled my eyes a little). Sometimes I want to wring his neck for doing something stupid. But, you know what actually makes me happiest and makes me love him the most? Serving my husband.. Doing something nice for him that he doesn't expect. Doing something for him that he truly appreciates. Giving him space to enjoy the things he loves (i.e. sports), no matter how much they annoy me. True love to me is when Graham wakes up early to start my car outside in the cold every morning.. without me ever asking. Love is feeling like home when I'm with him, no matter where we are. Of all the guys I've ever been with, I've never wanted to be with someone so much.. All day. Every day.
Graham has taught me how to be honest, in a hard way, I guess. I needed to learn how to be truthful to myself and to others about my feelings and intentions. It wasn't only with his issues, but mine as well. I am not a saint, nor will I ever be. I am trying every day to be a better person, and to be true to who I am and who I could be. When you're married, you can no longer hide your flaws and only put your best face forward. Your spouse can see everything about you--your weaknesses, frailties, your strengths, your kindness, your mean streak. And yet, they still choose to love you even though you are just a human. Honesty is being you, the whole, imperfect yet still lovable you.
Graham has to taught me to be kind, and not just to your spouse. I never knew anybody like Graham that could be so nice to other people and yet still be able to understand my sarcasm. He has the empathy that a kind person has, and yet still can tease people. He offers to help people all of the time. He is nice even when I don't think he should be. He is such a good example to me of someone trying to be Christlike and loving to others. I was definitely not blessed with that trait, but I'm glad I married someone who did. His inherent kindness has even tempered my sarcasm and cynicism, something I never thought possible (me--the sassy teenage girl who once bragged she could make fun of any one at any time).
Anyways, marriage is slowly helping me become a better person by learning to forgive, be honest, and to truly love others. It's been a learning process, with some major growing pains for sure. At times, I've seriously questioned if he really was the right one to marry, especially considering the trials we've been through. And really, now that it's been done, why does it matter if it was the right decision or not? I've made the commitment to God, to Graham, and to my family, and now I need to live with my choices, for better or for worse. I'm not unhappy with my choice..in fact, right now, I am pretty damn happy with my choice. I couldn't have picked someone better for me. He loves me, and I see it whenever I look into his eyes. And because he has loved me, I will never be the same. (Oh boy, this is now teetering on the edge of being totally corny. Now busting out Celine Dion: I'm everything I am because you loved me.)
Here's to another anniversary and many more..