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Back when we were just dating, my then-boyfriend would leave me little love notes on the bathroom mirror. Never before in a relationship, even my first marriage, did I have someone take the time out of their evening to do a random act of sweetness like that for me. I remember one morning after waking up to notes in the bathroom, and in the kitchen, and on the lunch I packed for the day, I told my co-workers what I had woken up to. While most people feigned a smile and complimented my beautiful morning, one, snarly blonde spoke up and said, “That’ll change when you get married.”
As I venture into my second marriage, people are quick to remind me about how marriages don’t work. They’re quick to remind me that the cuteness of it all, the romance will quickly fade and we’ll be that old married couple, not speaking to one another in a crowded restaurant contemplating what went wrong. Eventually, we’ll be too swamped with kids to remember our early days. Eventually, the effort will stop. For those women who are so fast to remind me of that bitter reality, I actually feel sorry for you.
Marriage should not be looked upon as the nail in the coffin to what was originally deemed to be a loving partnership. Marriage should elevate the love you have to another plateau. Marriage doesn’t mean you stop fighting, it means you found a reason worth fighting for. Since when did it become justified for another woman, friend, coworker, relative alike, to tell another woman whose about to get married what her marriage will and will not entail? When did our culture become so deadest on bringing others down?
I was given a gift to be a divorced woman in my early 20s because it taught me the difference between a semi-permanent love and an everlasting one. My ex-husband did not leave love notes for me. He didn’t hold conversations with me. He didn’t love my mother. He didn’t carry the same love in his heart that he holds for his new spouse, and I wish him the kind of love that at one point in time we both wished we’d had. Divorce is not a bad thing.
The romance doesn’t decrease because the years of your marriage increase. Marriage requires work, and as someone whose signed her name on divorce papers, it feels like work when you’re not with a partner who values you. My fiancé and I work through our problems, time and time again. Our conversations aren’t always sunshine and rainbows; they’re gritty and they’re messy and we work through them because at the end of the day, we’re human and if we can’t forgive each other for our transgressions, then what’s the point of wasting one more day until the altar?
Marriage is not what ends the little things. It’s not what ends the love notes, or the way he looks at you right before you close your eyes. It’s not what ends doors being held open, or rubbing each other’s’ backs, or texting the other person to make sure they got to work safely. It’s about caring. It’s about wanting what’s best for one another, even if it makes the outside world just a tad bit uncomfortable.
For the women who believe that marriage is what ends the romance, then why does my grandfather hold the door open for his wife of 70 years? I wish for you, more than anything, is for you to not settle in a life, a partnership, a marriage that leaves you feeling anything but fulfilled. I hope you find a love one day that doesn’t make you hate someone else’s love story. You deserve so much more than that.