Today, June 11th, is my 11th wedding anniversary. Wendell's working late shift today, so we went to breakfast instead of dinner. As we sat, we mused over the past 11 years. We joked how the restaurant where we got engaged is now a law office. Our first apartment is now a parking lot and our second apartment was transformed from student family housing to single housing despite the miniature playgrounds that dot the grounds surrounding the complex.
"If you could go back, not know what you know today, would you want to?" I asked Wendell. I already knew my answer. He paused and thought, longer than I expected.
"No," he finally responded. "I wouldn't want to."
"Me either." I feel almost as strongly about not wanting to relive my 20's as I do about not wanting to relive my teens. Those were tough times. I'm so much more sure of myself now.
As we drove away after breakfast, I joked, "Here's to five good years."
Either Wendell is going deaf or he just chose to ignore me. But I have to admit, those first 6 years were...brutal. Sometimes it amazes me that we made it through. We had so many challenges so early in our marriage, but perhaps everyone does.
At one point, I was done. Done. When I daydreamed, I would look up divorce attorneys and try to image my life without Wendell. But the picture wasn't much prettier.
I'm a natural worrier and I would often sit and picture emergency scenarios and what I would do. One scenario I played over and over in my head was Emma, then a toddler, running out into the road. A car was coming. I had just enough time to rush into the road and push Emma to safety, but my life would be lost in the process. There was never any hesitation, in my head, about giving up my life to save my child.
Then it struck me one day, if I was willing to die for my child then could I also be willing to live? Even if it meant sticking through what I felt like was a loveless marriage? It was the ultimate sacrifice: living. I could stick it out, I thought until the youngest graduated from high school, then I could be free.
So we pressed forward and a weird thing happened. I fell in love with my husband all over again. When I was no longer looking for how everything was going wrong, I started noticing where it was going right. Our communication improved (thanks in part to marriage therapy) and we were working together as a team.
My love for Wendell became more intense and important. Not in the infatuated way when we dated, but in a meaningful way. Today I love Wendell infinitely more than when we married. He is my rock and my confidant. I can be goofy and corny and sick and stupid and he still loves me. And vice versa. It's just how a marriage should be and I look forward to an eternity of growing together.