Monday, July 28, 2014

All Of Me

I am so sick of John Legend and his "All Of Me" song.

It seems like every time I turn on the radio, it's on, either in it's woefully sad and slow version (maybe that's supposed to be romantic), or in it's newer, poppier version.

So, at the the end of the school year, the fifth grade at my kid's school always sings a song at their graduation. Preferably one that speaks to what a fifth grade graduation is all about. Do you know what my daughter's class chose? All Of Me. By one John Legend.

Thankfully the music teacher didn't think that song was appropriate for a bunch of 10-and 11-year-olds to be singing at their graduation. So they sang "Happy" by Pharrell instead, which is equally as annoying, but somehow not so much when your own daughter is up there singing her heart out.

Week before last, my husband and I celebrated fifteen years of wedded bliss.

Fifteen years.

We should have been singing "All Of Me", but singing to one another isn't typically how we spend our anniversary, seeing as how neither of us can sing. (Actually, I think I sound a little better than him, but when the radio is up as loud as I take it when I sing, who doesn't sound good?)

A lot has changed over that period of time. When we first met, I was an immature college student, he was a working professional. We met because he needed a tie, and he thought the girl selling them was cute. (Yes, that would be me.)

Inside, I was fraught with insecurity and anxiety, and I was looking for someone to love me and fill all my needs. He was fraught with impatience and had a quick temper, and in the early years of our marriage, we each possessed our own pieces of the marriage jigsaw puzzle, trying to figure out how they went together to form a beautiful picture.

Who am I kidding? We are still trying to figure it out.

Some days are easy. When the kids are well-behaved, and the weather is nice, and the timing is all right, it's easy to look into the eyes of my husband and feel nothing but love. But then work demands more time, a loved one is sick, money is tight, the kids are fighting--suddenly those eyes I adore become eyes I turn away from.

I thought marriage would be easy. I thought the people who told me that it would be one of the hardest things I'd ever do were dead-wrong. I thought all you needed was love and you were a-okay.

All you need is love,
All you need is love,
All you need is love, love,
Love is all you need.
{the beatles, all you need is love}

It wasn't until a several  years ago that I figured out that loving my husband wasn't only a feeling, it was a choice. Because let's face it, we don't always feel like loving someone else. At least I don't. I get grumpy and mad and disgruntled with life, and during those times, no. I do not feel loving. I am not even friendly or polite.

"Remember that you're in this together. 
It's not you against each other. 
It's both of you against the world."
{thomas bradbury, PhD--professor at UCLA}*

Yesterday, Parade magazine featured an article titled "Happily Ever After"--Once the cake has been cut and the bouquet tossed, what are the secrets to an everlasting marriage? And I was very curious about what Parade could possibly offer as to the secrets of an everlasting marriage, because with roughly half of us getting divorced after we tie the knot, "everlasting" and "marriage" don't seem synonymous anymore. Here's what I found:

1-Remember that you're a team.
2-Try a little tenderness.
3-Soften conflict with humor.
4-Support but don't smother.
5-Celebrate each other.

Mutual goals are far more important than mutual interests. 
It's not where you come from that matters, but where you're going.
{anton & phyllis grosz, married for 50 years}*

I have a hard time remembering that I'm part of a team, tenderness doesn't come naturally to me, when I'm mad nothing (nothing!) is funny, and I'm not supportive (at all) when I'm only thinking of myself.

There is a certain amount of self-sacrifice that comes with relationships, and while at times I don't like it, I also believe that it's an important component to actually making the relationship work. I think that when it comes down to it, feelings are important--but not an indicator of love and happiness. It's all about the choices we make within our marriage that will truly make the difference between "happy" and "not so happy".

I am so proud of us. I'm proud of the things we've learned that we've put into action. I'm proud that we've been married for 15 years, and that we are still going strong. I'm proud that we've overcome obstacles along the way, sometimes clumsily, but we did it.

And I'm proud that we are looking forward to another 15 years.


*all quotes taken from Parade magazine article "Happily Ever After" by Francine Russo

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