I was chatting with Andrew last night about the ways that marriage is hard, harder than we had ever expected back when we were dating and got engaged. I think I had my eyes pretty wide open about what getting married would mean, but there are some things that you just can't understand until you do it. There's still a lot to learn, clearly, as we've only been married (almost) five years, but I do feel like we've learned so much during those years.
I mentioned something about marriage being a choice, a choice you make every day. And Andrew made a joke like jeez, I sure hope you don't wake up every day thinking you have to choose to stay married. That's not what I meant. The fact that we don't make that choice every day or every year is one of the comforts of marriage.
Being the kind of partner that it takes to be happily married and have a strong relationship is a choice that we make every day. We choose to act compassionately and lovingly toward each other every day.
When I know Andrew is overwhelmed with work, I choose to do his laundry and make macaroni and cheese for him. When Andrew knows I am feeling stressed, he chooses to deep clean the kitchen and order take out. When we're at the movies, we choose to hold hands. When we're in a fight, we choose to treat each other with respect and remember that above all, we are on the same team. We choose to be gentle with each other. It's often an easy choice and one I can make without contemplating, but sometimes it's not so easy.
This is, of course, not unique to the relationship of marriage. It applies to all of our relationships in life, but marriage is the most intense and all encompassing of my relationships.