Thursday, August 2, 2012

Better or Worse: Part One

(this has zero commentary on the current marriage fiasco surrounding a certain chicken selling chain-- bad timing to post this, haha!)... I know this was promised a while back, but I'm just now getting around to it. So sorry!
For today, we're starting with some background, a little bit about who we are, credential wise, and our marriage. I feel like the majority of marriage is about who you pick to start with and someday will do a series about setting yourself up for success in marriage... but this is more geared toward people who have already said, "I do" and are looking to strengthen that marriage.
The title of this series comes from a Brooke Fraser song that I absolutely love. It's entirely about marriage and the rough patches couples ultimately go through, saying that they are knotted together in a big tangle that's bruising them, but in the end is a tangle that can't be undone and what appears to be knotty mess is actual a beautiful tangle that holds them together.
My grandparents on their wedding day
My grandma did a great job of explaining that to people at her husband's funeral. My grandparents were married forever. And they adored each other. But as person after person got up and shared about how their marriage had been a model, example and encouragement, she finally stood up and said something to the effect of, "I don't want you all to think it was perfect... it wasn't. But it was real." ... It was incredible. I won't detail how honest she was being when she called it imperfect. They went through unspeakable downs that many marriages will never face. But in the end, they triumphed, they made it work. And they didn't do it with begrudging hearts. They knew they had made a promise to each other, and so even though it was incredibly hard and hopeless at times, they made the choice to love each other. And it only made their bond and love stronger with each passing year. I won't recount for you how heartbreaking it was to watch her say goodbye to my grandfather on his deathbed. They truly, deeply loved to the end.
My grandparents at my brothers wedding, 2005
Bottom line? Marriage is tough. It's messy and dirty and hard for two people to become one... but it is still absolutely beautiful. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love being married. It's hilarious because if you had met me ten years ago, you'd have heard me singing a different tune. Ms. Independent, much? I abhorred the idea of getting married... until I met my match.
Most people who meet John and I are really struck by our marriage (to quote Pam from The Office, "does that sound braggy? I didn't mean for it to sound braggy..."). Few people realize that our relationship had some serious issues towards the beginning, and we worked our butts off (before we got married) to fix them (ps- it's easier to fix problems before you're married... sooo you should probably do that. They don't go away or get better after you say "I do"). Also, we're both trained in marriage counseling for our degrees, and we put that knowledge to work.
Tomorrow I'll talk more about all of that goodness, but tonight let me tell you our story.
Yes, it's super cheesy to compare a relationship to a movie but for the sake of speed let's just say that our relationship most channeled 'When Harry Met Sally'. There was some *major* love/hate going on toward the beginning. My boss first met John courtesy of our profession. My boss was on a board that reviewed applicants to upgrade their credentials and just loved John. He wrapped his arm around John's shoulder and said, "I've got a girl for you..." ... which John was not interested in hearing at all. He had a girl that he was into already. As soon as my boss returned to the office, he came down to my office and told me that he met the guy for me, too.
I also was very uninterested, as I was seeing someone else (total waste of time, btw). My poor boss. He really loves match making. I can't imagine how disappointed he was that we both were so against the idea of being together. But let's just get it out there... I totally stalked him on myspace (um... it was a long time ago) to check him out. Because, come on, we all know that we can get a good idea of what people think of us by who they offer to set us up with. Am I right? I'm right. First impression? Not interested. He had reddish hair and green eyes. If you hadn't heard yet, I was marrying tall, dark and handsome like my daddy, yo! Because clearly that is SOOOOOOO important (sigh).
As fate would have it, my boss mentioned that he needed John's number to talk some business and asked me if I could use my internet savvy to track him down (which... I had already done previously, you'll recall). I didn't want to contact him through myspace for about a zillion reasons that you'll devise on your own, so I called a friend that went to college with him and asked if he had John's number. He did. But apparently John had changed it in the last month since he moved to Michigan. Cool.
So I bit the bullet an sent him a super professional myspace message saying that I was asked to contact him for my boss, etc, without the slightest hint of "Oh hey, I'm the girl he wants to set you up with, and you would  *be* so lucky".
And I didn't hear a word back.
This picture will apparently NOT land you a man. No matter how cute the BFF + puppy are.
Three days went by and I started to get super annoyed. Like crazy, 'who does he think he is' annoyed. About that time I changed my profile picture, too. It had been a faraway shot of my BFF and I holding my massive dog (even though he was only 4 months old in the picture...) at a campfire. I switched it to a black and white up close of me.
Within an hour he responded. And his reply was over-the-top sugary sweet and, let's just be honest, super flirtatious.
Did not improve my opinion.
This is the grainy, mid 2000's cell phone pic that won his heart. Easy target, apparently.
But eventually we became friends. For about 2 months. Then we hated each other. Then we became friends again. And then we hated each other. It was a vicious cycle entirely induced by another girl. She was engaged to someone else but considered John her "best friend". John was desperately in love with her (see 'other girl' reference at top of page). She didn't want to date him, but she didn't want anyone else to date him either. So every time he and I got close, her nose smelled danger and she would tell him that if he would stop being my friend, that she would break up with the other guy and be with John. So melodramatic, right? I'm actually embarrassed to type this. Of course, once he "ended" our friendship (ahh... we were *really* young. There should be some sort of disclaimer!) she would of course, break the promise and stay with the other guy, saying she needed more time. Side note? The other guy is actually a good friend of John's now. He's performing this man's marriage ceremony this fall, haha! You can find good in any circumstance!
Meanwhile, I was getting more and more frustrated with John. I wasn't interested in dating him (remember, I was with someone else, though that someone else was a total jerk). Eventually John realized what the other girl was doing and decided I'd be a much better choice for love. Because, hey, we got along really stinking well. Crazy well. We were solid friends. But by that point, I wasn't having it. He had established a pattern of coming and going, which didn't speak to my worrisome, overly cautious heart.
And then one day he wore me down and I agreed to date him. But guess what? The problems established with his coming and going... they didn't go away. I always harbored a lack of trust and kept a wall between us. I did it in my heart, but also pushed him away with my words and to others. I was extremely guarded. Our relationship was a little screwy because of that. My family wasn't sure he was the best choice, they loved him and they were sure he loved me, but they were under the impression that I definitely didn't love him. I certainly didn't act as though I did.
Time wore on and John experienced some success in the musical world (I hesitate to say this because, "everybody's a rock star" and I don't want to elaborate on this sentence at all). And with that success came an extremely big head. And lots of attention from girls. Girls dig musicians.
So he got a 'cool' hair cut (from that other girl, and which in actuality was super lame... rage.) and some new clothes and dumped me for greener pastures.
Now *this* is a cool haircut... which, obviously, I gave him...
At this point, I experienced a crises of realizing that this was partially my fault because of my treatment of him. And I went to a very dark place.
You cannot imagine.
My best friend found me out in the parking lot at work sobbing and *clutching* his slipper in the front seat of my car. She told me I had two minutes before she was going to get my boss. When I look back now, it's hilarious. At the time? Pathetic. Note: thanks, Steph... I would not have survived that breakup without you.
Silvio and I, just hanging out in London. Wish I had a pic with Larissa , too :(
Clearly, the next step was to fly to London and spend thousands of dollars with my favorite traveling companions (that would be you, Larissa + Silvio). For the record, that was one expensive therapy trip which I am *still* paying off. But hey- it worked wonders!
I came back from that trip with a whole lot of clarity. And while I was gone, he has decided to take a girl on a date. Let's just say it was a nice, shining reminder of what he had lost. Ha! I'd love to elaborate, but won't. In the end, he begged me to meet with him and during a nice long walk along the Grand Haven boardwalk (which I've mentioned as sentimental to us) we got back together. And also, I may or may not have caused an injury to both of us that resulted in a scar on my ankle.
Eventually, he proposed, I accepted and then we eloped. For about a zillion reasons. Nearly one year after we eloped, we had a "wedding celebration" and that is our story! Now we have a great marriage that I thank God for every day. John is the greatest blessing I have ever, and will ever, enjoy on Earth. I can't imagine my life with someone else. I always tell people that it's better to be single and wish you weren't than to be married and wish you weren't... but if the latter half of that statement is true for you, there IS hope. You can turn your marriage around and make it a beautiful, fun, exciting and wonderful adventure. And tomorrow we'll talk about how.
Long post. No more words. All the best and as always. thanks for reading!
(part two here)
(part three here)


4 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. Since I was very little I have seen great examples of strong marriages in my aunties and ankles ( but total opposite in case of my mom and dad) and I knew there is someone special for me. It took me a lot of broken relationships and a trip over 3000 miles long to find him at last in the most unexpected circumstances. We've just celebrated our 8 year engagement anniversary, and I can truly say that from the moment I met him, I knew there is something of a vital importance about this man, and even though I was not even attracted to him at that point, I knew THIS was IT. And it feels amazing. Not everyone is lucky to actually meet their match in their life time, but I believe it is also about the one's choices, spontaneity and bravery that brings that luck closer.

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    1. Beautiful, Juliette! I would be really cheesy right here and make a reference to your name + a certain Shakespeare play... butttt won't. Although technically I already did. haha! I wish you the longest, happiest life together! Keep growing!

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    2. in fact one day in Verona, he actualy scribbled ROMEO+JULIETTE=LOVE on a piece of paper, and then crossed of Romeo's name and wrote his own! LOL

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    3. I love how nonchalantly you said that, "one day in Verona..." haha! That is SOOO cute!

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