My life is very ordinary now. I’m a stay at home mom like so many before me. I do laundry, clean up toys, change diapers and clean the bathroom. It’s a never ending job and I’ll probably be doing it for a long long time.
But once in a while, when it’s quiet and I can take a break. Like right now, sitting here in the corner. I can take a good look around my cluttered little apartment and realize that I have woken up in a life-size version of a fantasy I imagined over and over again as a kid. I’m playing house.
And I’m the mom.
I managed to get the role I always dreamed of. I have a husband who goes to work, a baby who needs comforting and a home that needs making. This now magical little apartment is my kingdom, and I’m in charge. I’m the mom.
My white stained couch, the dirty dishes on the counter and the full laundry baskets are colorful little opportunities for me to beautify my realm. They’re my responsibility and I will do them justice. I have the power to make my home as radiant as I want.
It’s also my responsibility to prepare dinner. I can cook whatever I decide. Or maybe I can make something my husband would like. Something that would make him happy after a long day at work. Cause he’s the dad. He’s my husband, he loves me and he’s the dad. I chose a good one to play that role.
My baby girl is crying, she wants me. And I know how to comfort her, because I’m her mom. We can read books, she likes that. Soon when she is older I will teach her to read and write herself. I will teach her good manners and how to be kind and friendly to others. I will teach her to be a good daughter. That’s her role.
Thinking about this makes me smile, I almost feel silly. Because this is my life and it’s not make believe. It’s real and it’s exactly what I wanted – what I always dreamed of. It’s like the floor sparkles a little more when I scrub it, like glitter falls when I dust the shelves. I can see the magic. It comes from living your dream. I got it. I have other dreams now, but none will ever be as big or meaningful as this one. I’m just feeling extremely grateful I guess. Grateful for everything I have, that my dream came true. But especially grateful that I have learned to see the magic even when the dream has become ordinary.
I remember friends staring at me in awe when I told them I was getting married. At 21. To a guy none of them had even had the time to meet yet. Most of them didn’t even know I had a boyfriend. And then the sigh, or scoff. They didn’t think they’d ever find someone they’d want to tie that tight of a knot with. How could I have found my special someone so fast? A best friend whom I loved more than anyone else and with whom I was positive I wanted to spend the rest of my existence.
Well, I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for. A best friend? That’s always a good pointer. What does that mean though?
Can I admit something? I’m not sure a lot of people know this. I mean really know this.
Marcus and I don’t have tons of things in common.
Seriously. We don’t. We don’t really listen to the same kind of music. We don’t always think the same movies are funny. He likes trying new flavors, I stick to chocolate (always). He’s more trendy, I’m more classic. He likes big crowds, I prefer small groups. He likes to sleep in, I like an early start. We’re actually very different people. Well, especially when we first met.
It took a while for me to really warm up to Marcus. Our first week dating I remember being worried that I was wasting my time with a guy that I clearly didn’t have enough in common with. He was a wonderful guy and I loved talking and being with him, but I just couldn’t see how we’d become the couple sitting in the couch laughing our heads off at an inside joke on a Tuesday night just because we had each other.
I remember one night in particular. We had gone for a walk together and had ended up sitting in the sand by a lake on an evening in July. I especially remember the insane amount of mosquitos. Anyway, I was feeling guilty and ended up admitting to Marcus my worries. I held my breath. Instead of freaking out or getting sad he told me that he’d had the same thoughts. Immediately I felt relieved but hung my head because I was worried that this was it. And so I braced myself for a break-up talk.
It didn’t come. Instead, Marcus picked up a twig and started drawing lines in the sand. He explained to me that he’d made up a sort of score board, and that only three things mattered to him:
Friendship – Did I seem like the type of girl he could be best friends with. And not just now in our 20s but for life. Could we still be best friends in 50, 60, 100 years? Did he enjoy my company that much? Could he talk to me about anything at all? Did he want to talk to me about anything at all? Did he feel like I really listened to him? Did he enjoy really listening to me? Did he like me enough to learn to love me in the future?
Aspiration – Did we see ourselves in a similar situation in 10 years? Did we want the same kind of family? Did we want the same kind of life for our family? Did we share the same faith? Was that faith as big a part of each of our lives? Did we want to build our family on the same sort of principles and values? Did we have similar ambitious goals for our future family? Did he like the idea of the life and family we could potentially have together?
Attraction – Did he find me attractive? Inward and outward. Did he want to be with me? Did he actually want to make our relationship work? Was he willing to make sacrifices for it?
He looked up. He said that I got full marks on that score board. Of that he wasn’t in doubt at all. And that everything else could fall into place later. After all, we had only just started dating.
About 9 months later we were married. It’s kind of a blur since everything happened so fast. But that night is one of the significant moments that I remember very well during our dating process. Because I knew he was right.
Sure, I could’ve probably said nope and gone out and found some other guy who liked chocolate cake and Harry Potter as much as I do. Or at least more than Marcus. But man, if I’m dead honest – no grey areas or second thoughts – I think I’d have to look for many many years to find another guy who spot on wanted the same life and family as I want. And even made me more excited about my own hopes and dreams than I was in the first place!
I’ll admit it. I kept dating Marcus because I was blindly in love with the life we would have together and the father he would some day be. But now that we are actually living that life, we laugh at tons of inside jokes every day, and I can watch my daughter crawl eagerly to the front door when he gets home from work, I am so happy I didn’t go find a new relationship to base on a meaningless crush.
So no, I don’t think you need to have tons of things in common. Actually, in some ways I think differences can be a blessing. Because they give you so many opportunities to make sacrifices for each other and thereby to demonstrate your love for one another. Once Marcus brought home a 1000-piece puzzle and suggested we put on a movie and put it together after dinner. I’ve rarely felt that cherished and appreciated. Not just because I love doing puzzles, but because I know how much Marcus hates ding puzzles. And even though he could only stand it for 15 minutes and then left me to do the rest on my own, it absolutely meant the world to me.
I’m thankful today that I based my relationship to my husband on the right things, because everything else, sense of humor, hobbies, interests, inside jokes, telepathy, – it all came later. But it came. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have a ton of things in common, you just need to have the most important things in common.
Last week was finals week which means this week is chill-out week for our family… and this post should have been up over a week ago.
Almost two weeks ago it was Conference weekend at our house. That means that my family gets together, eats a lot of unhealthy food and listens to uplifting talks from the president and leaders of our church.
A lot of the messages are usually about how to strengthen your family (especially this year! Or am I just noticing everything because I’m a new mom?), and one of the things that really stuck with me this time was a quote that Elder D. Todd Christofferson shared by writer and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
“Marriage is more than your love for each other. … In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown and not merely the will to rule that makes the king, so it is marriage and not merely your love for each other that joins you together in the sight of God and man. So love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God”
For a while I’ve been wondering about that. Why is marriage so important? I myself have faith in God and an afterlife and therefore believe that marriage has more eternal consequences. But we don’t all believe in God or belong to a church. So, if we just consider this life, for the average Joe out there, what is so different between being in love and living together, and being tied to each other in matrimony? Is it just a piece of paper?
I think the main reason that this question is even relevant in today’s world is that the way that marriage is perceived has changed.
If we think that marriage is only special because it is pretty, magical and romantic… that it can be undone or abandoned just as easily as breaking up with a girlfriend orboyfriend… then that’s what marriage is. No different than a simple relationship.
To use Bonhoeffer’s metaphor, if the king’s will to rule is only temporary and if he wants the flexibility of taking an out – then maybe the crown isn’t fit for him.
Marriage is only what you make it. If you enter a marriage with the attitude that “we can always get divorced if it gets too hard”, then it is indeed not more than a piece of paper.
But if you however enter a marriage thinking that you’re willing to stand by each other through thick and thin, knowing that your love for each other may suffer along the way – then marriage can be stronger and more beautiful and romantic than you could ever dream. To me, my marriage is so much more than just a romantic relationship. It’s a permanent committed partnership in creating a happy life and overcoming the trials of life.
On second thought, maybe that is really the definition of a true romantic relationship.
I’m grateful to be in a loving marriage, and I’m gonna take it all the way.
I know, I might be preaching to the choir. But I really needed to understand that.
On the occasion of our being married 23 months today I thought I’d share a little bit about my wedding ring. And my engagement ring. Because they’re the same ring.
I don’t know where you’re from, but here where I’m from using the same ring for engagement and for marriage is not traditional. But that’s the thing. If planning a wedding taught me anything, it is that I don’t care much for tradition. At least not some traditions.
We knew quite quickly that we wanted to marry each other. I loved him and he loved me. To us it was as simple as that. And we were too excited to start our lives together to wait around till we were engaged to start planning. When he asked me what kind of ring I wanted I told him I wanted a simple ring without big stones that I could accidentally knock out doing the dishes or working in the yard.
He said, surely I would want a fancy engagement ring. He would love to get me a simple wedding ring if I’d like and he wouldn’t think it was weird at all if I didn’t want to wear my engagement ring every day once we were married.
I told him, no thank you, and that I’d prefer just having one meaningful ring rather than having a very expensive ring stuffed away in a drawer the rest of my life. We both knew that we didn’t have a lot of money and what little we had I preferred we save and spend on something more useful.
In the end he agreed and I waited in excitement for the day he would pop the question. In the meantime we planned our wedding.
Then one day when I was in Stockholm visiting him, he took me upstairs to a secluded spot. He apologized for spoiling some of the surprise but that he needed to ask my opinion on something and that he didn’t think I’d mind. I gave my permission and he pulled out a small black velvet bag. He told me that he had recently been to visit his grandparents. They had asked about the proceedings of our relationship and especially about his upcoming proposal. Kindly, they had offered their own engagement rings for Marcus to take. Marcus opened the small bag and emptied the contents into the palm of his hand. The rings were perfect. Simple, smooth and glitteringly golden. I waved off Marcus’ remarks that I could still have a diamond ring if I wanted, and told him that this was the exact ring I wanted. I asked if I could try it on, but he wouldn’t let me. He told me I’d have to wait till he proposed. He only dragged that out for another couple of weeks.
The day after he put the ring on my finger we went to a local jeweler to have them resized and engraved. We already had a date. 23 March 2013.
When you grow up and start looking for a husband you will be overwhelmed at how many guys there are in this world, and you may have to look for a long time before you find one. But none of this matters, because one day you will meet this young man who will sweep you off your feet as romantic music seems to play in the background. You will have the craziest butterflies in your stomach and the thought of him alone will make you feel like you’re soaring on a pink cloud of happiness. Likewise, he will be so taken with your beauty and will express this with tokens of everlasting love. He will be handsome beyond belief and he will be as if perfectly made for you. There will be no mistaking that you are meant to be.
I’m sorry girls, but that is just not how it is in the real world. It may seem that way when a happy couple tells ”their story” and it may even seem like that to you looking back after years of marriage, but it is usually not the case and is certainly not something to wait around for expectantly. The process of courtship involves hard work, sacrifice and definitely stepping out of ones comfort zone and takes a lot more than romantic coincidence. In the prospect of soon having to raise a daughter of my own I have picked out a few points that I want to make sure to teach her before she fluffs her pink pillows, takes out her notebook and leans back to watch the parade of eligible young men pass her by.
1. The Universe will not tell you who to marry I remember the many afternoons I spent as a young girl daydreaming of my one true love that someday I would go and spend the rest of my life with. It wasn’t till after I got engaged to Marcus that I really understood that had I spent more time sniffing around I probably would have met many guys that, if diligently pursued, I could have ended up with. I realized just how much power there was in my decision to give my all to my relationship with Marcus and how much it was my choices that made us end up together. We may want to wait for that perfect scene where that song is playing and he says that line and you feel that way, but chances are you’re gonna wait for a very long time.
2. Love is earned, it’s not for free There is a big difference in having a crush, falling in love and finally loving someone. The sort of feelings I described in the scenario at the beginning of this post is what I would call a crush. It has no root and is based on first impressions, lines and outward appearance. And yes, a charming face can get you far, but probably not to the commitment of marriage. Looking back, I realize that I really had to allow myself to have deeper feelings for Marcus. I needed to not be afraid of commitment and I needed to be ready for the many changes in my life that might come with said commitment. Also, I needed to not allow myself to be distracted by or overly picky with his bad habits, weird ways or other small things that might not match the perfect Prince Charming picture in my mind. I am not personally a strong believer in love at first sight, but I do know people who are and who have great loving and strong relationships. However, love at first sight is nothing to expect and not something to turn down a guy in the absence of.
3. There’s a reason it’s called ”finding” a husband and not ”noticing” a husband When Marcus and I first started dating neither of us were completely confident that it would work out between us – if anything I think I was more skeptical than he was. But I had beforehand noticed some of his qualities and goals in life… and the way he spoke about his future family caught my attention and I knew that it might be a while before I found another guy like this. So I decided to pursue this relationship 100%, give it all I had until I would be able to distinguish whether or not to potentially turn it into a marriage. What I’m saying is that choosing a husband is not just choosing a boyfriend. You need more to go by than a crush and a blush. It’s really about stepping out of your comfort zone and working your way towards the goal.
4. It takes hard work and time to become perfect for each other Like I said, I was not exactly swept off my feet when I started dating my husband. One of my top priority criteria for my future husband was that he could make me laugh my head off. To my great worry and disappointment, during our first months of dating, I felt like Marcus and I had such different senses of humor – because we didn’t know each other that well yet! I wish I could go back in time and grab my past self’s shoulders and tell myself to get a grip and that marriage would bring some of my best laugh attacks and most hilarious inside jokes. No two people mysteriously walk up to each other and instantaneously understand each other’s deepest concerns, thoughts, wishes and humor. Two best friends only become best friends after spending much time and tribulation together. Soulmates are no different.
Having said that, all morning I have received cute pink’ish messages from my husband saying things like “I just can’t wait to come home to you” and “You really are my best friend”. Marriage is awesome, but don’t expect that you can have feelings from day one that belong in a marriage or long relationship and that couples have spent months and years achieving.
My husband is not my knight in shining armor, but he has become my soulmate.
I had the pleasure of starting my day today by reading an inspiring blog post by a man who at the time had just gone through with his divorce and was now sharing a list of 20 things he wished he would have done in his marriage to keep it alive.
He ends his post by expressing his utmost regret that his list of advice were all things that he learned too late. That he should have known this at the beginning of their marriage instead of at the end.
Marcus and I celebrated our first anniversary this last Sunday. (more…)
You know those periods when you feel like you aren’t accomplishing anything? When you feel like you’ve gone to bed at least 100 nights in a row thinking “I didn’t get anything done today”. Or at least so many nights that one night you think “I didn’t get anything done this MONTH!”. That’s when you know it’s bad. And in my case that’s sadly when I finally decide to get up and do something about it.
So today I’m gonna accomplish something.
I’m gonna empty my very very full laundry basket. All the way. To the pink bottom. (more…)
I’ve never known my parents as well as I do now. I don’t think I’ve thought “what would my parents do?” as often EVER as I do now. But maybe every new chapter of my life is gonna feels this way. You face unfamiliar challenges and you realize these are tricks your parents learned decades ago. Then you feel stupid. Stupid that you had your entire childhood to learn from them and watch them and ask every single necessary question along the way. But now you’re out. Out of their house, country and continent and your next visit is so far into the future that you haven’t even bothered to schedule it yet. Now I’m left to myself. (more…)
Just when I felt like I had started to waste less time on my biggest time waster, Facebook, I managed to find a new one. It is Pinterest. Yes, I know Pinterest has been out and popular for a while, but I used to take pride in not engaging in (too many) time wasters (at a time).
It all started last winter when I was having a hard time planning my
wedding. Actually, I had stumbled upon it before then when looking for clothes. But I never stuck around, cause I got frustrated that I couldn’t always find out where I could buy the amazing stuff I had found – I just didn’t understand back then. A friend of mine finally sat me down, pounded my head and made me realize what an amazing tool Pinterest is. I created a “wedding board” and in spite of my totally blank mind, before long, I had a full board growing by the hour. (more…)
It’s an interesting time of your life, being a newlywed. You go from being single, the room of your future seems huge and hollow with white walls, floor and ceiling. Colorless. You have no idea what kind of images will be put on those white walls. Will they be white? Will the room always feel this hollow or will it be filled with voices of loved ones you haven’t even met yet?
Then you get married. And all of a sudden the room starts to take shape and gets faded shades of color here and there. (more…)