In recent weeks my husband and I were chanced at celebrating our love on more than one occasion: Valentine’s day and our fifth wedding anniversary. Somewhere in between we endured a brief separation and I accomplished a feat I wouldn’t have thought possible at this stage of my life.
These unusual shifts in our agenda, combined with my own premenstrual mood swings mounted into an electric storm of emotions that came flooding in, disrupting our peace and awakening our senses to a new way of thinking.
First came an unceremonious Valentine’s day, where typically nothing out of the ordinary occurred apart from sitting down to a sushi take out dinner and a bottle of white wine that remained unfinished, due in part to our exhaustion after a full day with the kids. The scene was one of defeat that had us posing as a tired looking couple, sat at opposite ends of the table and having very little to discuss apart from sharing our mutual desire for an early night’s sleep!
Following on from our disillusioned evening came my husband’s long awaited trip to his home town of Bath in the UK. I was left feeling particularly vulnerable, unsure and not confident in my abilities to manage two young children on my own. But I was eager to see how this brief separation panned out and whether or not it would lend to the strength of our relationship.
Husband gone and our home surprisingly more at ease in his absence, I was offered to take someone else’s place in the Malta half marathon. I agreed with obvious enthusiasm, blurting out “AMAZING I’m in!”
Being one who usually enjoys a challenge – particularly when it involves doing something on my own – I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to prove that I was capable of doing something less ordinary. I would channel my inner strength to go that extra mile.
The next thing I knew I was standing at the start line amongst 3,600 runners and I’d put myself there, blissfully unaware and virtually unprepared for what obstacles lay ahead.
Initially I began walking yet as the wind started to change I felt a wave of endurance come over me and even though I’d not had any training prior to the event I began to run and challenge myself beyond previous expectations.
As I ran, I thought about my friends and what they would say if they saw me. I thought of my family: my husband who was away and my children who would cheer me on whatever I decided to do, be it walk, run or stumble across the finish line. The thought that I was going to make them proud motivated me to keep going and power through the pain as my legs were starting to seize up.
I like to think I was running for our marriage. Five years ago we exchanged vows in the company of our nearest and dearest. The ceremony was brief yet our nerves stood on end as we held one another’s hands tightly, uncertain of the future we would have together and the journey we were about to take on.
Throughout the years our marital struggles have taken us to places we never wanted to go, forced us to see things we didn’t want to see, caused us to break under pressure and loose our self control. Yet somehow we have come through the toughest of times, beating the odds and continuing to survive in a hostile world that only demands more of us.
It’s no wonder then that running a marathon with no prior training came more naturally than I’d first anticipated. Mortality has us tried and tested everyday of our lives therefore surely we must be prepared to take on anything that comes our way. We are designed to cope with more than we think and yet most of the time we lead a much too ordinary existence, hiding away from the outside world.
As I ran my last kilometre I became more aware of the atmosphere around me. Finally there was a celebratory feel for our efforts: children holding up banners and playing in the streets, musicians and bike marshals heralding the the end of a hard earned road to self gratification and an all round unforgettable experience.
The thrill of taking part in the half marathon coupled with my husband’s overseas trip left us refreshed when the day of our wedding anniversary finally arrived. That evening we once again ordered a take out dinner for two and sat at our kitchen table. Only this time we had been through a whirlwind of experiences and had substantial information to exchange. It was as if we’d not seen each other in years, when in fact it was days. But we had returned from our time apart to tell each other the tale of what we’d learnt.
During our conversation we figured that the answer to a healthy marriage is simple: Once in a while take some time out from each other be it going away on a trip abroad or engaging new activities.
Marriage doesn’t have to scream out entrapment. It doesn’t have to mean living with each other day in day out with no where to run and repeating the same mundane cycle over and over. While it is important to ensure the security of your relationship and share some common ground, it is equally essential and ultimately rewarding to keep your own dreams alive and discover ways to redeem yourself as an individual.
The term “bliss” has become a much used trademark of sarcasm when relating to marriage, the Collins English dictionary has it down as “She clings to a romantic fantasy of wedded bliss” yet how true do you believe this to be? Furthermore how do you define your own identity in a relationship?