I've always been an introspective person, but in the last year or so, I feel as if the question of what I want my life to be has been more all-consuming than is typical, even for me. The reason, I have come to understand, is sitting across the room from me now, frowning and scribbling something on her time diaries.
A few days ago (I'm a bit behind on my google reader), I read this post about getting married young. Toward the end, Robin, the author, says of being married young, "You hear people talk about 50% divorce rates and how those rates are even higher for people who get married young... [But] What about those people who focus on making themselves better as individuals because the biggest question mark in their life is already answered?"
Today, when I read a quote in which a woman said, "I remember the warm feeling of relief of knowing where my future was," I recalled what Robin said and it clicked into place.*
The first time I got married, I thought that marriage was about sacrifice. I thought it meant compromising my dreams for the greater good, and steeling myself to the thought of forever -- that daunting and terrifying word -- so that I could have some security. I thought it was about we, instead of me.
I may not be young, as far as getting married goes. Kathy may not be, either (in fact, she's a few years older than I am). For each of us, this will be our second shot at it. After my first marriage ended barely a year in, I thought that maybe marriage was not what I wanted for my life. I thought marriage took too much out of me. And that was probably right, for that marriage. It was not what I wanted, and it took too much out of me.
But life with Kathy is not about sacrifices, although some have been required. It's not about compromising my dreams, although my dreams have changed, and her dreams matter just as much as mine. It is not about steeling myself, although there is security. It is about we, and it is also about me.
Kathy has financially, physically, and emotionally supported me as I left my job and have tried to figure out who I am and what I want out of the time I have on this planet. It is only with recently that I've come to realize that is just the above-the-surface 10% of the iceberg-sized gift that she has given me. I know that anything we have can be taken away, and that nothing is permanent or certain. But I also know that while we are both alive, we will live our lives together. That certainty is what has released that warm feeling of relief, knowing where my future is, that has allowed me extra space inside to explore my life's dreams and ambitions, and to work through some of the hard questions, in a way I had not anticipated.
* I feel as though I should note that the woman recalling the warm feeling of relief was actually talking about television (which does not drum up any warm feelings for me).