Thursday, December 1, 2011

So, here's the "real" post about our 10th anniversary.

One of the best things I ever did for my life was marry someone who, on the surface level, appeared to be a very bad fit for me.  In our 4 years of dating, we had to wade through a lot of superficial inconsistencies.  From the surface level, it appeared to be the bookworm-writer type marrying the college baseball star.  The world traveler marrying a man who hated airplanes. I wanted to live abroad, and he wanted to move back near his family.  Too many to list here.

We kept discussing (....and discussing...and discussing) what we were going to do about these elements that seemed like they should be deal-breakers.

What kept us coming back was the fact that, below all those things, we deeply loved the way our Core Selves fit together.  He liked my strength and independence, but was strong enough to be an equal partner to me.  I liked his steady calm and stability, and that I knew I could always, always count on him.  We could talk about anything, even the things we disagreed on, and craved the others' perspective on situations - primarily, because it was a perspective we couldn't create on our own.

We were Dharma meets Greg.

I kept hearing to marry someone with shared interests...hobbies...belief systems.   And while it seemed logical to me, I couldn't ignore that I wanted to marry this man even though it didn't seem like the right time (too young)...or the right compatibility (we are mirror-image on personality tests and shared almost no hobbies together).

But now?  I feel like I dodged a bullet in marrying in the completely non-prescribed way.

I am, in many many ways, not the woman that Steve married.  Those core elements of myself are still there.  Adventurous, independent, impulsive?  Yes, yes, and yes. Steve signed on for all those traits, and always says how much he appreciates the way they counter him and show him new ways to make decisions.

But ALL the superficial differences have melted into this big pile of marital goo, and it's hard to tell what we pulled from the other one.  Yes, Steve is now on board with living anywhere in the world that his career will send him.  Even planned his new career with that in mind.  It's important to me, though, that I was on-board with living in the same city my whole life if that's what it took to be with him.  I've watched that change in me, and I like knowing that wherever we live (even if it's the same home across decades) it WILL be home for me.

Right after marrying, I went back and got my MBA and was working in finance, pretty sure I wanted to go down the career path and had far-off thoughts about someday having children.  No maternal instinct. Fast forward a few years, and I had fallen head-over-heels in love with these babies I made with him...quitting full-time work to do jobs that would let me see my children as much as possible.  I've always wanted to keep my work...it's part of who I am...but my Mothering side was like a truck ramming into my life that I didn't see coming.

I am grateful for many things about marrying Steve 10 years ago.  But what I am most grateful for is that Steve fell in love with the very basic elements of who I am, and nothing else.  He accepted those other things about me. That was (and is) important to me.  But that wasn't part of the rubric for loving me. 

Because as I've re-configured, re-evaluated, and flat out deleted certain portions of who I was "back then"...well, it hasn't changed anything in his mind. 

The girl saving for a home before we even married is now the one who would rather own an RV and a tent and never be a homeowner again.  Too much commitment. ;)  I'm now the woman asking to give away all our furniture to Sudanese refugees  -- the very same furniture we saved money for a year back when we were newlyweds.  

We joke about the changes all the time.  "So if you'd known I'd be birthing your babies in an inflatable pool in our living room, would you have married me?"  Or: "If you knew I'd want to give away all our belongings and live in hotels all over the world, what would you have said?"

But you know...I'm not sure those New Things are necessarily more revolutionary in terms of bad fit to him as the Old Things.  I was a strange match for him during the first versions of self. Yes, he would have laughed to think about me becoming a home-birthing hippie buying local raw honey and gluten-free pizza crust.  There have been so many surprises along the way, as we grow into who we are - together and individually.  When we would debate over public vs. private school, who knew we'd someday school our kids in a way we can't even define.

That contract we signed, though, had so few bullet points on it.  That's where I feel the most gratitude.  I've gotten to be the Most Authentic Sarahbeth at every point in the way, without worrying how it will disrupt dynamics with the man I love.  

So that's what I'll tell my children.  Trust your heart.  It will know when you found your right match, even if your brain tells you differently.  

Don't marry someone who asks you to change yourself...definitely...but also, don't marry someone who requires you to stay the same, either. 

Instead of having to change ourselves for each other, we just married into all those differences - with mutual respect abounding and lots of honest communication.  And in the end, we got to shape each other in many ways...and just embrace new differences in other ways.

That was the best "bad decision" I've ever made. :)