When my father spoke on our wedding day last September, he encouraged Jared and me to study each other.
Study the way he communicates. Study the process she uses to cope. Study the reasons why he celebrates.
His words were sincere. His words were so sincere that I thought if I chose not to practice his advice, I would in some way let him down. And, after a year of marriage, I’ve realized his advice works. It works really well. I’ve learned Jared needs a hefty, lasting squeeze after an argument. He’s learned I require about 24 hours post argument to think clearly about what upset me in the first place. This simple practice has strengthened my relationship with Jared, and it has improved the way in which I approach my friendships with others, as well.
I, too, prepared a speech of my own. I feared he might not make it through his, and I was ready to welcome our guests myself if needed. I feared he might not make it through his speech because of what had transpired a few years before. After 25 years of marriage, my mother and father divorced.
In spite of their divorce, I very much trust my father’s marital advice. I very much trust my mother’s, as well. I very much trust their marriage worked well. And although it didn’t endure for an additional 25 years, their example taught me to treat my own marriage well.
For 25 years. Then 25 years more. Then 25 more.
If you follow women’s tennis, you may have witnessed Serena Williams lose to Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semi-finals this year. Serena Williams was on her way to her first Grand Slam, having won three prior championships this year alone. When Serena Williams lost to Roberta Vinci, the chance of a fourth championship suddenly disappeared. The chance of a Grand Slam suddenly did, as well.
When Serena Williams lost, I didn’t question her success as a tennis player. She undoubtedly is triumphant. She undoubtedly has accomplished something great. In spite of her recent loss, I very much trust her ability to play tennis well. I very much trust her ability to play tennis fairly and passionately.
We, too, are working towards something great. You and I. Our family members. Our friends. And, if we fall short, it certainly doesn’t discount the steps we’ve previously taken. We must celebrate those steps as we take them. We must celebrate others’ steps as they take them. We must learn from our own steps, and we must learn from others’ steps, as well, in spite of falling short or not.
Like Serena Williams’ loss to Roberta Vinci, my parents’ divorce in no way means their marriage was not great. It was incredibly great. It was so great, in fact, that it has radically transformed my own perspective of marriage. Most importantly, it has encouraged me to treat mine well. For 25 years. Then 25 years more. Then 25 more.
The photos above were taken in Tulum, Mexico, where Jared and I celebrated our first anniversary this past week.