This month we celebrated fourteen years of marriage. We committed "till death do us part" so we're in for the long haul. Fourteen isn't as much as 25 or 30 but it's on the way there. It's a milestone worth marking.
When I made my vows as a young woman there were many things I didn't know about this man with whom I share my heart, body, struggles, hopes, plans, toil, children, memories and laughter. But I knew the really important things: he was committed to his faith, was a man of his word, valued family and cherished me. What more was there to really know?
Of course there was more to know and I spent our pre-marriage days finding out all I could about this man to judge if he would be a suitable partner for the rest of my life. I had a mental checklist and I seriously critiqued him in those most important areas (and some not so important) before I even allowed myself to consider "falling in love". But when I fell baby, boy did I ever. Damien is the center of my world and it feels scary and vulnerable to admit such intense devotion to my husband.
I know I've written a little about that here before. And I also know that writing about matters of the heart is a bit of a deviation from trip reports, minimalist shoe reviews and backpacking tent recommendations. But I can honestly say behind all those techy/gear type posts is a marriage partnership and shared activity between an adventure-loving husband and a learning-to-love adventure wife. The heartbeat of everything we do together and write, even gear reviews, is our love for each other.
Damien's love for me was his giving up competitive cycling because it interfered too much with family time. Then finding a new physical activity we could all do together and patiently encouraging us every step of they way. Never forcing, but leading in love. Love is his research and planning to get gear to keep me comfortable, safe and warm. It's carrying my camera and sometimes even my pack when I'm miserable and dare I say, a pain in the ass.
My role in all of this has been mostly responsive; it is realizing that outdoor adventures make him happy and choosing to follow because loving this man means loving adventure.
How ironic, and perhaps not so surprising, that this innate interest of his is both so attractive and compelling to me (I am inspired by people who push the boundaries) and at the same time exasperating. And I guess this is one of those things that I didn't realize when I married this man; how much I'd grow and change for the better in choosing to support, embrace and learn to love something he loves.
I am not trying to say "look at me, aren't I the model wife". If only you could see the tears of self-pity I've shed, the shameful outbursts on the trail and the woes-me complex I sometimes carry around. Pathetic.
Marriage means sacrifice. It means giving up of ourselves to help our spouses realize their dreams and potential. Walking hand in hand with someone, helping them become who they were meant to be. Isn't this the best gift we can give each other?
Of course this sacrifice goes both ways and I would not want you to think I'm the one who has given up the most. I'm fairly certain that is not the case. We don't keep tabs on that in our relationship but I'm pretty certain Damien has given up more for me. Being the sole provider for years, being steadfast in that responsibility so I can stay home and fulfill my dream as a stay at home mother, homemaker & homeschooler. Yep, this is my dream job. And Damien makes it possible.
I love this man so much and if what he wants from me is to walk with him through the woods and up mountains (literally and figuratively) why wouldn't I?
Yes, it scares the socks right off me somedays to hear him dream and plan our next life adventure. And the truth be known I don't particularly like sweating and sometimes I feel so tired on the trail I want to fall down and throw a tantrum. But we work through those issues (and a host of others) because that's what you do when you're married. I'm pretty sure that's somewhere in our vows.
I might not have realized Damien was such an adventurous guy when we married. But likewise there was no guarantee he'd be such a great husband and father. So if having adventures with me is what he wants I'm trusting and holding on for the ride.