Four years ago, I met a man and fell in love. Eighteen months later, after I finished my first year of college, he moved countries to be with me and we got married. We then moved countries twice more in the subsequent two years. He sacrificed a career opportunity at one point to be with me; I sacrificed a great opportunity for school to be with him. We bought a house and winged the financing, scraping it together.
We’ve taken a lot of concrete risks. Some of them have gone well and some have gone belly-up. The biggest risk was believing that our relationship could handle all of it—that it could handle anything. After all, that was why we got married.
I wish I could say that the challenges (and successes) we’ve faced in the past few years have made us stronger as a couple. But they haven’t. Today, we are less kind, less patient, and less understanding of each other than we were on the day we got married, and in large part, I think it’s because we tried to do too much. We wore ourselves out. I was wrong. Our relationship can’t handle anything.
I am bitter and sad right now (in case you hadn’t noticed) because I don’t know what is happening to us—whether this is the beginning of the end or just a rough spot that we’ll look back on in wiser, happier years. The cliches say not to be afraid of failing because that’s the way you learn. But sometimes you don’t learn anything at all. Sometimes, all I can say about failing at something is, “Well, that really sucked.”
In a few months or years, I will probably think I lacked perspective in saying that, because in a few months or years, whatever is happening to me now will be part of getting me to where I am then. I will be able to say, “Look! I never would have gotten here if X hadn’t happened.” Right now, I know this: it sucks that our relationship is a shadow of what it used to be. And also, I am damn proud I married this man.
You see, what I really like about the human species can be summed up in two things. One is goofiness (for example, when “Gangnam Style” became a worldwide viral hit, it made me love being alive that much more). The other is that people are willing, sometimes, to say things like this: “I know that I don’t know what is going to happen to us, or what we’ll do or what kind of people we will be in ten years. I know that maybe someday, we could crash and burn and be those divorced people who throw out all the pictures of their exes. But today, right now, I love you so much that I don’t care. I don’t care that I might someday become the kind of person so angry and frustrated with you, so disgusted with us, that I might pour a perfectly good batch of pancake batter down the drain. Today, I’m telling you I’m going to try. I’m willing to take that chance if you are.”
Or at least that’s what I hear when I go to a wedding. And I can’t imagine anything more beautiful.
You don’t have to learn something or grow or have gotten to something better somewhere along the way for a failed risk to have been worth taking. There are some things that just plain make humanity worth its salt. And the courage to love in the face of uncertainty is one of them.
Photo by APW Sponsor Lisa Wiseman