Monday, April 30, 2007

Just the same... but better

A gentleman I work with came by the other day and asked how married life was. I have relatively little experience in this department since I have only been married for three weeks, but I responded that everything is great. Not too long ago, Cameron and I were talking about this very thing, and I mentioned how being married didn't really feel any different than being engaged. And when we were engaged, I always said it felt the same as when we were just dating. I decided that was a good sign in our relationship. Steady. However, when I mentioned this to my co-worker, he acted quite surprised by my response almost as if he didn't believe marriage could be the same as dating. People generally call this the "honeymoon" stage of being married, and I suppose it might be too early for me to say anything. But I'm inclined to hope and believe that maintaining a steady relationship is not only hopeful but possible.

As we all know, I have not been in that many relationships, but I do have a lot of experience with relationships. There is truly something to be said about being compatible and being with the right person. It is true that relationships are work. I work at mine every day, but I don't really consider it work. If I were conscious of all the effort I was putting into it and feeling like I was never doing enough to barely make it functional, I would have to say that there is probably something amiss. I had a relationship like that. I kept working and working trying to make it work. But the reality was I couldn't "make" it work. Either it did or it didn't. And at the end of the day, it didn't and I just felt exhausted. But I resolved to try harder the next day. I did that until I found myself completely empty.

Then I started dating Cameron. It was simple and easy - not because everything just came naturally easy (even though it seemed like it did) but rather because I didn't have to "make" it work. I worked at it, I gave it everything I had, but everything I gave was given back one hundred fold, which made it possible for me to give more... and so the cycle continues. Relationships begin to disintegrate when that cycle stops, or worse, goes in reverse. There is no surer way to destroy a relationship than to allow selfishness to reign in the stead of selflessness.

Marriage is a continuation of the relationship we have already built. It isn't a new relationship, so therefore it shouldn't be that different. I still do all the same things I did when we were dating and engaged. And Cameron still does all the things he did. And so we remain steady. Surely there will be challenges and adjustments but there were challenges and adjustments all along the way. It isn't the challenges and adjustments that make relationships difficult but the way we react to them.

I have seen many people get married over the years and watched many friends plan weddings. It is easy to get caught up in the wedding and forget about the marriage that comes after. It's not hard to believe that many people become disenchanted when they have the perfect wedding only to discover that marriage is not a wedding. But it can be so much more. I had the perfect wedding. Everything came together beautifully and turned out better than I could have imagined. I didn't know what marriage would be like, but I knew it would be great because Cameron is great. We continue to say that things are the same but better. I hope we keep saying that for a long time to come.

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