13 years ago I quietly married Chaz in the back of an Old Time Photo Studio in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Romantic, huh? Eloping is as romantic as you make it out to be. Planning a wedding ceremony and reception was proving difficult with our conflicting work schedules. I was also realizing how much I didn’t want to be the center of attention for a night. I’m not big on having the spotlight on me. Besides, that was just a wedding. It’s the marriage that really matters.
I was watching Mona Lisa Smile recently and was just dumbstruck. Yes, I watched it before, but for some reason it really hit me. In the not so distant past, most women really did aspire to nothing more than getting married and starting a family. It was expected of them. Their lot in life. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about.
Even as a young adult I was not preoccupied with thoughts of getting married. Much to Grandpa’s relief. He wanted to make sure I graduated from college before disrupting my education by getting married. I sat through many lectures from him on the importance of staying away from “boys.” I can’t blame him. He just wanted to be able to brag about me graduating from college. I did get involved with boys (face it, all you men at that age are still just boys) in college. I dated here and there. And yes, I had a thought or two about what ifs. They were just thoughts though.
My independent and assertive spirit kept many guys at arms length. I was a conundrum for them and they had no idea what to do with or about me. I was always comfortable in my singleness. I did not need to have a significant other. I proudly went out to eat or to movies by myself. My thought was, if I could not be comfortable with myself, by myself, then I could never be with someone else day in and day out.
Chaz and I had many discussions about marriage before he even proposed. My parents had a tendency towards violent fights when I was young. As I got older, it was more passive aggressive, but was still loud. And tense. Chaz’s parents are divorced. We both agreed that if we did get married it would a No Returns, No Refunds, No Exchanges Policy.
Marriage takes work. You don’t just have a wedding and you get Happily Ever After. You have to give and take. Compromise even on the stuff you don’t want to compromise on. You have to make some sacrifices in order to get what you desire later on. Happily Ever After comes in the process of marriage and the journey you embark on together through life.
Are we happy all the time? No. We are all susceptible to emotions that come naturally to us. There are times when the other is hurting and we hurt, too, because there is nothing we can do to comfort in the midst of pain. We have our arguments. We don’t fight. Well, there were those times when I was really sick and didn’t realize my mood swings were courtesy of my malfunctioning thyroid. I don’t count those though. Purely situational and I once again have control of my anger. The no fighting was another conscious decision we made. We both accept that we have different opinions on things and that we can find a balance that will give us a win-win most of the time.
If I had to do it all over again, I would still say “I do” in the back of that Old Time Photo Studio. Weddings can be showy and a great reason to party. They just aren’t me. But the marriage, that can last a lifetime if you let it.
Happy Anniversary, my Crazy Love.