The first time I saw a naming ceremony in person was in Tallahassee. A young couple presented their first born son to a community of elders, peers, and children and charged us to be his collective guiding force, protector, and reminder…
Did that get your attention?
Last year, I read this New York Times opinion article entitled, “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person.” Typically, I pass by these op-eds because as a person who loves being married, I detest the gloom and doom rhetoric often spewed about marriage. But, for some reason, I read this one. Interesting read…although I don’t necessarily agree.
I will be the first to admit- I married my first husband because I was ready to get married and I loved him… enough. Pretty harsh, I know. But, if I am honest, I knew -we both knew-that we should not have gotten married. The signs were there; we just ignored them. In fact, I knew walking down the aisle I was making a mistake. Eight years later, I take ownership of the role I played in the end of our marriage. I loved him, but not enough to try to make it work. My first marriage ended not because I married the wrong person, but because I got married for the wrong reasons. My mindset about marriage was wrong. I wanted the big wedding, the long dress, the 25 bridesmaids, flowers, over the top reception… And I got all of that. My first wedding was spectacular…Long dress, 9 bridesmaids, church full of people, jazz band at reception…it was the talk of black West Palm Beach. The wedding was beautiful but the marriage was anything but. I was focused on the fun (wedding) and gave little thought to the work (marriage).
Marriage is tough. Anyone who tells you it is not, is lying. It takes commitment and work and a lot of compromise and prayer. It takes friendship. It takes forgiveness and as I heard one couple say, “dying to yourself.”
Prior to getting married the second time, I decided to change my mindset. I did a self analysis of my actions in my first marriage and identified the things I could have done better. More importantly, I took a good look at the wedding vows. I read and digested them. I asked myself could I really live up to those promises? Often, we focus on the positive side of the vows…the good times, the health, the richer. Rarely do we really consider the other side- the bad times, the sickness, the poorer. It is easy to stand by someone when things are going well, but it is hard as hell to maintain that same level of commitment when stuff hits the fan. I decided before I said “I do,” for the second time, I would look at the other side…the side no one expects to occur. We both did. And we made a commitment that divorce was not an option. We would work through whatever issues life brought us…together. We committed to keeping God at the center of our marriage and to remember daily the vows we took. Has it been easy? Heck no. I know I get on my husband’s last nerves. I know I can be moody, uncompromising, spoiled, irrational and did I mention moody? Similarly, he shares all of those same attributes and he gets on my last good nerve. Plus, he is an alpha male which does not always gel well with an alpha female such as myself. But, we make it work because we want to make it work.
Four years later, I am happier than ever. Beyond marrying someone I love, I married my best friend and this time, I got married for the right reasons. I married my second husband not only because he is a tall dark drink of water, but because I absolutely could see myself being there in sickness, in bad times, in poor times. I obviously do not want those things to happen…who does? But I am committed to making this thing work…committed to dying to myself. We are committed to making this work…to dying to ourselves.
We thrive because at the end of the day, we laugh more than we fuss. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and biggest critics. We are honest with each other, even when the truth is uncomfortable. We are focused on growing together. We love intensely and are passionate about keeping this…our vows….to each other and God.
So, I did not marry the wrong person. I changed my mindset so I could become the right person to marry. We both did. And I think our marriage, while not perfect, is better for it.
-Monica Williams, Esq. is a practicing attorney by occupation, and a wife, mother, daughter, sister, community activist, and freelance writer by day and night.