This past Sunday marked the 12th anniversary of my marriage to my favorite person in the world. 12 years! And I'm 35, which means we've been married for our entire adult lives. Some find this commendable, while others couldn't imagine being married that young. I'm pretty much astounded that I've held someone's interest for so long. I'm not really that interesting, am I?
We got married right out of college, mostly because we were infatuated with each other, but also because of the timing. We were planning on moving to Japan to teach English as a second language, and we knew if we waited too long we'd lose touch with a lot of our friends. College creates incredibly strong bonds with people, but life directly after you graduate can be frustrating, demanding and may force you to move on in many ways. Seriously, who wants to find a real job and become and adult after you've just spent 4 years at the best summer camp, I mean learning institution, ever?
So we moved to Japan and had one of the best life experiences we've ever...experienced? Had? You get the point. I'll save the details for another post, however it is a time we cherish to this day and we hope to visit again in the future. The important part is, my new wife and I were living on our own, and in a foreign country! Talk about jumping into the deep end right away. But when you're young, fearless and taking it on together, it seems like anything is possible. Ok, it helped that there was a McDonald's right down the street. And that the menu was in English, and the people who worked there tried really hard to practice their English on us. What were we supposed to do, not talk back? Plus, McDonald's in another country is actually good. Trust me.
Moving back to the States was a challenge. We had no home, no jobs and we were in culture shock after living in a country where a large soft drink was meant for two people, not one. So we took what we could find and just started winging it. Neither of us had a clue what we wanted to do with our lives when we were in college, so that didn't really give us much direction. We were also inexperienced at living on our own, paying bills regularly and living like a married couple. Japan was kind of like a long working vacation, but now we were forced to get serious and get on with our lives.
After a few year-long stints at various companies, we settled down for a while in my wife's hometown. My wife got a job working at the same company her father was at, and I quickly jumped ship from the retail gig I had and joined her. Picture this: you wake up and see your wife, get ready for work together while griping about having to go there, drive to work together, pass each other in the building you both work in, take lunch together and complain about work, go back to work, drive home while complaining about work and then spend the rest of the night avoiding each other because you've done nothing but see each other all day! Wow that's a long sentence.
We spent lots of time together, but not necessarily "together." When the only thing you really have to bond over is how much you like or dislike a co-worker, that should send up a signal flare that things need a-fixin.' We didn't really see this, and it drove a wedge between us. So what is the most logical course of action to try and remedy a problem such as this? Therapy? Wait, I know, move to New York City!
Our life in Japan made us realize that we needed something bigger than the Midwestern lives we grew up with. 2 shopping malls and a road containing nothing but chain restaurants just wouldn't cut it. Luckily for us a good friend (and her then boyfriend) were moving out of their apartment on the UWS and they offered the lease to us. We jumped at the opportunity, packed up a U-Haul and headed East (insert Beverly Hillbillies type reference here).
But what of this divide you spoke of? Is it still dividin' like a divide does? After we got settled in NY, we took a good look at the state of our marriage and realized we needed to do something to fix things. Actually, it wasn't until we were both in solo therapy that we realized this. So off we went, getting all therapeutic up in this. And where do we stand now? Well, she's still a foot shorter than me, but our marriage is doing much, much better. We're able to recognize problems and patterns more consistently, and more importantly, talk about them! Who knew that the biggest part of being married is communication?
So what's the point? Why did I just ramble about our problems when I could have been reminiscing about all the good things we had these past 12 years. I don't know. Wait, yes I do. We're still together and stronger than we've ever been. We've done things that many people will never do in their entire lives, and we've also grown as a couple and as individuals. These past 12 years have been filled with many ups and downs. I can't say that I wouldn't want to change some things, but all those things have shaped us into who we are today. And looking back, I can't imagine spending those times with anyone other than the person whose face I wake up to every morning.