One of my sisters is getting married very soon, so recently I’ve been reflecting a lot on our marriage.
I love being married, but Jared isn’t the man my teenage self imagined marrying, or even having as a boyfriend. He is so different to that imaginary man. I know it sound vain, but I suppose I imagined marrying the male version of myself. Now I’m older, wiser and married to someone so different to me, I realise how disastrous that would have been – we certainly wouldn’t still be married.
Our story isn’t particularly romantic. It’s not one of childhood sweethearts and chance meetings, but one of love, perseverance and will power (on Jared’s part). When we met I was 19, single, very happy and not looking for love. I was not an easy person to date because I couldn’t get my head around ‘needing someone’. I knew I liked Jared for a long time but I couldn’t work out why having someone else in my life made me happier. I was already happy. Why should I need someone else? A man? Why can’t I be happiest by myself? I saw wanting to be with someone else a weakness, and I saw the prospect of marriage and kids restrictive.
One of the first things that attracted me to Jared after we finally went out just the two of us, was when he gave me a list entitled ‘Esther’s 10 Issues’ written down on a piece of paper. I know, the romance. Most girls would be completely horrified, but it struck a cord with me, a loud one. I was sick of being told by the men I went on dates how amazing I was (which I know sounds awful, but what a bore!) and welcomed someone wanting to improve and inspire me. I didn’t want someone to change me, just someone to help me become the best version of myself. Jared is and was that person.
Jared is conscientious. He’s far more normal than I am (whatever that means). He is forgetful. He is sensible. He’s level headed. He’s good with money. He is thoughtful, incredibly kind and a brilliant washer upper. He is so good at recognising his motives – something I’m in awe of and irriates me hugely at the same time. He plays the guitar, loves history, reading, geology and football. He is so forgiving. He’s organised, precise and has become brilliant at DIY. He has a sense of humour that I don’t understand. He’s passionate. He wears his heart on his sleeve, is brutally honest and is completely at ease at talking about his feelings. He is such a good man, down to earth, understanding and non judgemental.
During our marriage there have been a lot of learning curves, but the biggest one definitely came after we had children. Before we had children we both worked full time, cooking and housework was split equally. We liked going to the gym together, we would go on dates regularly and life was a lot simpler. It was easy to understand what the other persons life was like. Now our lives are very different from one another, and although we wouldn’t have our work-play-life-childcare balance any other way, it can be so easy to forget what the other persons life is like.
Jared runs his own business, he has meetings to go to, exams to take, religious responsibilities, financial pressures, plus lots of hobbies and interests that he doesn’t get to do as much as he’d like. Quite often I fail to appreciate how much stress that puts on him – how can I? Likewise, he doesn’t always appreciate (how can he?) what it is like to have a ‘helper’ (or two) almost every time I go to the toilet, to feed a baby through the night, to have a small person talking (or arguing) with you all day, planning and cooking family meals, trying to keep children in a routine, plus trying to stay positive and upbeat.
He forgets and I forget. It is so easy to do, and I need to become better at remembering. I need to become better at putting him first, thinking before I speak and nurturing our relationship. Jared has helped me fly. He has given me confidence when I have none and he has encouraged me to pursue my passions, learn new things, keep fit and be happy. He doesn’t want me at home cooking, cleaning and washing, he wants me to do what makes me happy. He doesn’t understand why I like making things, putting outfits together, looking at (and stroking) pretty things, dancing, arranging and rearranging things, but he loves me for it and I am so grateful for that.
Now I see more clearly than ever that marriage has never been restrictive and neither has having children. Like most things in life – they can be if we let them. Since having children love is expressed in so many more ways than it was before and it feels more fluid. Love is expressed through volunteering to change a nappy first, washing up, giving the other a break, getting breakfast started, ignoring the comment that wasn’t meant, cleaning the difficult child’s teeth (Ru), getting up in the night when the other is tired, or using every ounce of self control not to say the comment you shouldn’t. It’s endless, tiring and amazing.
Our marriage is by no means perfect. We have had (and still have) our fair share of arguments, misunderstandings, silences, periods of upset, ratty encounters and thoughtless words, but I am so grateful to have someone that is patient, respects me and treats me as their equal in every possible way. He’s my best friend. Someone that is kind, and someone that helps me be the best person I can be.
Marriage is such a journey and very hard work at times, but I am so glad I didn’t seek the imaginary man, because the real deal is far superior. If only the real deal would dance!
I thought I would include some more candid photos from our wedding – by this point it was too late for Jared. I’d captured him.
I often wonder what people think of Jared and I’s relationship from the outside looking in, because we are so different, but as they say; opposites do attract.