58: Sweet Thereafter

58: Sweet Thereafter

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Sweet Thereafter

A bend in the road is not the end of the road…
unless you fail to make the turn.

~Author Unknown

I was eighteen years old when I met Daren, the man that I would marry, during a casual evening with friends. It felt like magic from the very beginning. I remember having an “ah-ha” moment when I saw him: we locked eyes and I thought to myself, “this guy seems important to me in my life.” From that very moment, there was never another for either of us.

We moved in together after only three months of dating, and that’s when the “honeymoon” period of our relationship abruptly came to a halt. Suddenly we were fighting about even the most mundane things. Still, there was a fire inside both of us to work it out, to stay committed, and we loved each other so much that we couldn’t leave. Something very powerful attracted us to one another.

After five years of dating, living together, and sharing our lives, Daren proposed to me. Everything just felt right. We had come a long way in those five years. We had both grown up considerably in that time. Life felt entirely blissful as we planned our wedding and honeymoon. We knew that being together would not always be easy, but that it would be worth it because our love had grown and blossomed into something we had never expected.

The wedding felt like we were on own planet. The people, the music, the food — it was so perfect in every way I felt surely there was enough love to sail us into eternity. But after the wedding and the honeymoon, our lives changed considerably. I left my employment to become a full-time freelance writer, and Daren was running the home business, which is also largely seasonal. Since I had left my job, he was in charge of supporting our little family of two, and I think that the pressure of that coupled with the large amount of time we began spending together became overwhelming.

After nearly seven years together, redefining everything radically seemed an impossible challenge. Each of us was disappointed about the nature of things, and so we took it out on each other, not knowing what to do. I cried behind closed doors, and tried to cope with the changes. I felt misunderstood by the one person who was my shelter: my husband. Daren went into his own world. He was doing only what he had to, and nothing it seemed, of what he wanted to do. His unhappiness made my own unhappiness worse.

The fighting seemed to never end. The smallest mistakes turned into big fights. I wondered what I might be doing wrong. I wondered what he was feeling. I wondered most about when it would end… and how it would end; would we come out better and stronger than before, as we had in the past?

After a few months, I turned to him and said, “I think that you have lost your passion in life. You are unhappy.” He looked at me, bewildered, and told me he almost couldn’t stand to be around me. I countered, “That is because I do not let you run from your greatness.” He said nothing. The next day I spent the day out with my mother. When we returned home, Daren was in the garage building speaker stands and a shelf for our stereo.

The following day, he was also very motivated… and so, too, the day after that. He was so motivated he even helped me reorganize my writing office. He looked at me — he kissed me. We danced together to our old music and experienced a new level of passion and energy.

We both knew that marriage wasn’t going to be easy, but what we had forgotten about is the passion that is innate to life. There is a need for creativity, and positive reinforcement from our support systems — each other. For a small moment, life overtook us and we lost sight of our need to push each other as people, because that too is a form of support. Life is sometimes a challenge. Sometimes Daren and I feel it is hard to be honest with one another, but when we are, it yields the best results, even if we haven’t perfected the formula yet.


~Billie Criswell

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