When Ben Affleck accepted his Oscar award for ‘Argo’ earlier this year, he likened marriage to ‘work’. Standing on stage, he said to his wife who was in the audience: “I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It’s good. It is work but the best kind of work and there’s no one I’d rather work with.” His comments caused a bit of confusion and controversy; even their closest friends wondered whether their marriage was in trouble. But as a 25 year old who has been married for 5 years and given birth to 3 children in 4 years, I couldn’t agree more with Ben’s comments. I believe that marriage is ‘work’, and I think this is true of all kinds of relationships.
Getting married young
Statistically speaking, my marriage is doomed to fail because I married young. I was engaged at 18 then married at 20. The odds don’t seem to be in my favour. But I’m not concerned. Not at all.
Those who know my husband and I well, aren’t surprised that we married young, nor are they surprised that we had children earlier than most. Those who know us well understand our loyalty and commitment to one another, many of the challenges we’ve faced in a short 7 years, and our success at having overcome those challenges.
Lawrence stuck by me when our first pregnancy didn’t go as planned and left us both with psychological scars. He stuck by me when a past love left me feeling suicidal and worthless for a very long time. He stuck by me when my childhood affected the way I saw myself and my ability to trust others. He stuck by me when I thought nobody was reading my blog and I wanted to give up on writing – he told me not to.
But our relationship has been a two-way street.
I stuck by him when his own childhood experiences affected his ability to believe in himself. I stuck by him and loved him, even when he struggled to love himself. I stuck by him when he didn’t know how he felt, when he didn’t know how to treat me, when he couldn’t even see the beautiful person that he was.
We stuck by each other even when our three children were diagnosed with speech and language delays, when our days were filled with appointments after appointments – not only speech-related ones, but ones with a paediatrician, dietician, OT, physio – the list goes on.
We stuck by each other as our financial problems took an emotional and physical toll on our relationship.
We refused to let all those challenges win.
As I write this, I’m teary just thinking about how I never knew I could love someone the way that I love my husband. And I never knew anyone could love me the way that he loves me either.
Give and take
What makes us stand out amongst married couples out there is our realistic belief that love doesn’t conquer all. We realise that it takes much more than just “I love you’s”, presents and promises for a marriage to truly work. We know that our marriage is not just about taking but about giving as well. It’s about making an effort even when you’re tired or stressed. It’s about never taking for granted what you have.
I believe all relationships can benefit from this realisation.
All relationships require effort from both parties, whether the relationship is with a husband/wife, a partner, a family member or even a friend.
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You may remember my close friend, who’s recently separated and is someone who I’ve been writing about a lot lately. She told me yesterday that she felt as though she was a burden to everyone. I tried to reassure her that she’s not.
This is what I told her:
“You’re not a burden on me at all. I want to help you. This is how I see it – you’re going through a rough time at the moment and I want to be there for you. We’re friends, we’re there for each other. Who knows, maybe in five years’ time, I’ll get cancer and you’ll have to be there for me. Or maybe my husband will pass away. Fact is, we don’t know what the future holds. But I know you need me right now, so I’m going to be there for you.”
She smiled, then thanked me for everything that I’d done for her thus far. I reminded her again that I really am there for her.
Relationships are a two-way street
All relationships are hard ‘work’. We get busy, tired, stressed out, drift apart, argue, question whether we really want these people in our lives.
But the reality is, for any kind of relationship to function properly, there needs to be efforts made by both parties. One person cannot do it on their own.
So as busy as life gets sometimes, try your best to make the time and effort for those who you love. And keep your eyes open to whether you’re being treated the way you deserve.