I had always vowed that my marriage would last forever.
We would slip those rings on and set out to conquer the world.
I would embark upon my wedded journey with gravitas and seriousness, and commit for the long haul—through the darkness and the light, the sublime highs and the certain lulls. I am a determined person—if anyone could have a successful marriage, I thought—surely it would be me.
I was married for exactly one year.
We were together for four years, and we were young, both recklessly throwing ourselves into a relationship without any maturity or life-wisdom. We loved one another, yes. I still love my ex-husband in the way we are able to love a person we no longer have strong feelings about—he is the devoted father of my son, and he, in more ways than he knows, contributed to me becoming the sober, somewhat respectable person I am now.
I owe marriage an apology. Our kind of venture gives it a bad reputation. I wasn’t ready. We weren’t ready. I didn’t have the slightest clue what kind of a person I was—I didn’t know if I liked the colour black or the colour green, if I liked sunny vacations or ski holidays, romance novels or mysteries. I had no idea. How I thought that I could join this half-formed self with someone else and create a life baffles me.
I was also suffering from depression, anxiety, and a not-yet-fully-formed substance abuse problem that reared its belligerent head in full force when postpartum depression slammed upon our rocky foundation, like throwing one more Jenga piece on our already almost tumbling tower.
My husband, a genuinely kind and good-hearted man, felt he had to leave.
I had originally meant to form words today directed toward the loss of a husband, (a barely formed one if that), but those layers, perhaps, are meant to be dealt with in private. At least at this time. Words, tens years later, still need to be expressed from this recovering addict’s mouth toward the man that had to struggle with much of the inevitable fall-out.
I don’t regret getting married. I am grateful for every part of my lovely wedding, and every expense that was made that day, eleven years ago. Our cherished friends and family were there, and we were loved and well-wished and spoiled. Our six month old son was passed from one loving set of arms to the next as I walked through my grandparents back yard down an aisle of peonies, bursting with glory, and said words I truly meant.
I don’t regret the life that we sincerely tried to form, and I don’t regret the lives we have now.
I was young, I was a baffled, bewildered young woman with a child, and I couldn’t have predicted what happened next.
In the years to follow, as I struggled to gain a foothold in life and kept falling seemingly deeper and deeper into an addicted, depressed abyss, my ex-husband, along with my mother and family, kept stability and a vast surplus of love in Liam’s life. When I failed to pull my weight, they doubled and redoubled their efforts. I am so blessed that I was able, once on the right track, to come back to this small, beloved person, and earn his sweet trust again.
Marriage, though, is not to blame for any of this. Eleven years later, my views on marriage are somewhat the same. I still think you can be just as dedicated to your partner without it. I still think it can be a lovely, beautiful gesture of commitment. I believe it, like any long term relationship, takes hard work, patience, and willingness to compromise, to love deeply and trust fully.
Call me foolish (or eternally optimistic), but I’m without a doubt that if I get married again, it will last forever.
“There are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving. But, who wants easier?” ~ Mary Oliver