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Friday, June 24, 2011

Five Years of Legal Marriage

Today at 8:30pm marks our five year wedding anniversary. It feels like yesterday but also like a lifetime ago. It feels full and rich and luscious and right. It makes me happy. And it makes me excited for more.

I've been thinking a lot about our marriage and marriage in general. While Dave and I chose to be legally married with a state-approved marriage license, we now realize that having an official (paid for) piece of paper was completely unnecessary. We would likely be in the same place, doing the same things, loving each other just as much if we had simply held a celebratory party for ourselves. Or if we had just carried on and never publicly announced our vows of love/support/honesty/commitment to each other.

Some of you (particularly my skeptical sibling) are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, "No way...there have been many times when I know you would have wanted to quit." And you're right. But wanting and doing are quite different. The reason I can confidently say that we'd probably be pretty much the same is because of the situation that caused me to realize that Dave was (is) the right person with whom to live my life.

Seven years ago we were on a trip in London, living in a crappy dorm room of some small college that was otherwise empty for summer break (it was cheaper than a hostel!). After a long day of touring around the city and pinching our pennies, we got into an argument in our room. I was complaining about how I felt like I always had to hold the conversation--that he wasn't talking enough. Although it seems trite and silly, it was a big deal to me. It was our first big trip together and I felt like he wasn't opening up enough to me. (God, I'm SUCH a girl, right?!). There was a point in our disagreement when I realized how easy it would be to decide to walk away. Literally to pack up my bag, catch a train to the airport, and take the next flight home. It would be the least painful way to deal with the situation. Mind you, I'm not one who gives up easily on relationships. Just as soon as I realized I could walk away, I had this overwhelming feeling that our relationship was worth fighting for; that the beautiful dynamic Dave and I had totally outweighed the freedom from having work out our differences of opinion. So my point is that since I realized the value of our relationship during an argument as opposed to during the blissful "lust" or "new love" phase of our relationship, I feel confident that we would have worked through all the struggles we've had since then, with or without an official marriage.

Over the years we've talked many times about how nothing really changed in our relationship once we were married. He's still the pre-marriage Dave and I'm still the pre-marriage Julie. We lived together for two years before we were married. Yes, my name changed and we now have combined income. But nothing major changed. I feel like my life ambitions (education, travel, the "stuff" that I want) and my ideals/morals/ethics haven't drastically changed simply because I'm married. Some of those things have been altered due to life experience and maturing...and my grandparents' deaths hugely impacted the way I want my life to go. They passed away before I was married, but with their strong, 63 year marriage as an example for me, it has refined how I'd like to live my life. By example, they showed me the value in being an honest, hardworking spouse, sibling, parent, citizen, professional, etc. That it isn't enough to live honestly--but that my life will be regret-free and fullest if I encourage others to be honest beneficial citizens of our country and world.

Dave and I have also realized that if you know legal marriage will change you or your relationship with your partner, then you probably should re-evaluate why you are getting legally married. Because even without that $30 piece of paper and accompanying change in your tax bracket, you should still be willing to commit to being honest, supportive, loving, and willing to grow with your partner. If you need that marriage license for that, then it is a crutch to your marriage.

In honor of our special day, I wrote this tribute to Dave on Facebook this morning:

Happy 5 year anniversary, David Dominic Bower, my Love!

Our relationship is one of synergy: we are better individuals because we support each other by being married. Neither us of knew how much we'd learn, ache, love, struggle, and grow with each passing year of marriage.

I love and appreciate you now for more reasons than I did when we stood in front of our friends and family to say our vows. Thank you for encouraging me to follow my dreams and letting me be ME. Thanks for being my partner in this life we have built together. It is my hope and vow to equally support you in your life's pursuits. XOXO.

After too many weeks of sickness in our home, we're are finally healthy enough to go out. So assuming our baby sitter is able to come over tonight, we'll be going out for a movie and then a late night dinner after spending the afternoon at the pool with Eddie. And if our sitter cancels, then we'll watch a movie on the patio and roast marshmallows over the fire pit while sipping some of Dave's favorite dessert wine. Either way, I'll be wearing my wedding sundress--partly for the celebration and partly because I'm thrilled that it still fits after 5 years and a baby! Here I am wearing the dress during our first dance at the wedding reception: Today at school I'm wearing a maroon sundress that I bought for our honeymoon to Egypt and a pair of earrings we bought while we were in southern Spain at the tail end of our honeymoon trip. Here I am wearing the dress outside the Abu Simbel temple (I should dig that hat our of the hall closet and make Dave wear it to the pool today for old time's sake!):


Kaitlin said...

i love this post.

Kelly said...

Yes, great post Julie!! I love how in love you two are :D

The whole marriage certificate thing came up recently with us as I am adding Jeff and Renee on my student health insurance for the summer while Jeff is in the probationary period at his new job. We were required to show proof of our marriage for him to qualify as my dependent. I know there is such thing as legal domestic partnership in CA, but doesn't that still require some sort of paper work and fee? I don't know, just something to bring up to your brother next time you're having that discussion :D