As a child playing the mediator for two warring parents I love with every fiber of my being, I came away with the belief that friendship was the ultimate thing one could possibly strive for in a marriage.
As an adult in a failing relationship for the first time, I came away with the conviction that I would never be anyone's girlfriend if there was no friendship first. This, plus a validation of my general belief about people, that their actions are far more reliable than words.
To my good fortune, these two lessons have served me well. I've sidestepped a lot of heart ache, and walked friends through hard times when I could see what was coming.
I did end up marrying a man who loves me completely, as a friend and as his girl. And as much as we've grown and diverged in our personalities over the years, it's ultimately been loyalty to our friendship that has kept it all alive. In our decade together, he's watched me grow up, be more certain of myself, learn to better pursue my dreams, figure out my preferences... even if at times those preferences took me away from him for a while.
I don't know what it was about this year that made me take a long hard look at where I personally was headed in life. Maybe it was the conversations with friends who'd walked away from marriages, sometimes for careers, sometimes for other reasons. But there were also conversations with my single friends, too, and they reminded me that singlehood was not a piece of cake, either. As much as I enjoy solitude, it wasn't that long ago that I had once wished I could share my thoughts and experiences with someone. Consistently present friends can be hard to come by, but a spouse is built-in.
And on a leisurely night drive, my husband and I talked about our marriage and the future of us. (To his credit, he's been ever openhearted and honest, even in the face of criticisms that I'm sure were unpleasant to hear.) He said he'd heard from many long-lived relationships that the best is yet to come, if we could just make it past our current conflicts. When we've figured out the hurdles in our relationship, so that we feel mutually supported and happy instead of settled but unsatisfied, we will only have reached the beginning of this journey of intimacy.
I can't really fathom right now what it would be like to get there. But here I am, next to my best friend, the luckiest girl in the world to have a good man who loves every fiber of my being, who's made my happiness his everything, and who is willing to do whatever he can for us to get to those golden years. I would be an idiot to not acknowledge what he's been and what he still is to me.
Here's to more of finding joy, making music, and creating a life together.