Building a life together
By Katie Morris
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my thirty years on this earth it’s this: life isn’t easy. That’s not to say that I’m a pessimist or think that I’ve been dealt a bad hand, but it’s the understanding that no-one is promised an easy ride. Some may appear to have it better or worse than others, but I really believe that everyone encounters challenges in their life and it’s up to us how we respond.
This may seem a rather droll way of beginning a blog about building a life, a marriage, with the one you love, but I suppose in the end if I’m not a pessimist, I’m more likely a realist. I’m not particularly fluffy around the edges, although I do have a weakness for cute kitty clips on Instagram, and I don’t sugar coat things. I’m not rude or inconsiderate, but I’ll tell you the truth. If you can’t be honest in a marriage, then you’re headed for trouble.
Both John and I are honest with each other. Frankly, John probably finds this easier than I do, for although I’m truthful and a realist, I’m not a talker. I keep myself to myself and don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. Never have. Thankfully, although sometimes I wish otherwise, John is good at opening me up and finding out what’s going on in my head. I can take a while to process events or emotions, much slower than John, which can cause some tension, but eventually we discuss and work through difficulties as they arise. And by discuss, that often does mean argue. Quite often it’s out of frustration at a given situation, because we feel stuck, or because I’ve let things build up and they’re all tumbling out at once. Guilty! Whatever the reason, we might feel rubbish for a short while, but we move forward and keep building.
So what are we building and where did it all begin?
John and I met almost five years ago and so much has happened in that time. It continually baffles me how time seems to speed up the older you get!
Five years ago in November, John and I individually took the decision that we wanted to be more active in finding the person we wanted to spend our life with. Taking matters into our own hands we decided to use the online dating website E-Harmony as a tool to meeting like-minded people who were local and ready for a serious relationship. Happily we found each other rather quickly and from our first date we have been practically inseparable. We realised early on that we were neither of us what you would call conventional. Both of us had begun our own businesses; me, piano tutoring, and John, Art from the Heart, and we wanted to build a life that we could work around a family whilst doing a job we enjoyed. Being the less conventional road to employment, this has not been without its challenges. Learning to deal with disappointment and keeping a regular income are two aspects of self-employment that you have to overcome and deal with. John has always been extremely driven and disciplined and so we have always managed financially and we have learned to help each other when disappointment knocks. Sometimes it’s difficult to see past the problem you are faced with, but it is very important to develop the skill of absorbing the situation, dealing with it and remembering that it is one bend in the road, not the end of the road.
Since we met we have had our fair share of difficulty, illness, bereavement and stress, all of which have broken us down and built us up stronger together and knit us more tightly together. It’s only through adversity that we truly learn about who we are, and in the context of a marriage and building a life together, how we love and support each other in different ways. I know more about John and myself because we have faced struggle together and helped and loved each other through it. But over all the difficulty we have weathered together, there has been such joy and love which shines all the brighter for the sorrows. It baffles me when people complain about bad things happening to them and they feel so undeserving of their trial. No-one is exempt. No-one can avoid them, but we can choose to meet the trial no matter what and grow and hope and love through it. Even if the outcome is bleak.
I don’t speak from naivety here and without compassion or empathy. I have endured the pain and loss of my lovely dad at a young age and know that sometimes you are dealt blows that you are convinced you will never overcome. I didn’t ever think I would get over the absence of my dad and I still feel it keenly twelve years later. But I know my dad had a sure hope in where he was going and who was taking care of him. So although I drifted through life for a good six years, isolated myself from people at times, and missed my dad so terribly, I did come out the other side of loss and am able to show compassion to others in a way that only I can as someone who has been there. I wish terribly that he was still with us, and I often wonder how my life would be different, but it’s foolish to dwell on such things as they don’t help me to grow and thrive in the here and now.
So what has this got to do with John and I building a life together? Well, I guess my point in talking about love and loss, pain and joy, realism and hope is that if we are going to strive forward and build a meaningful life together, with hopefully a family at some point, and if we are going to contribute meaningfully to society and the people around us that we love, how are we even going to do that if we don’t have our share or hardship? Building a life, a marriage, is often seen as an inclusive deal between two people. But John and I are not just two. We are three. As people of faith, as I’ve alluded to, we take strength from God in all that we do to build strong foundations that will hold us fast through whatever storms or balmy weather comes our way. We build up and out with hope and faith that God’s plans for our life far surpass anything we could ever dream of ourselves. And that doesn’t mean that we’ll have a fairytale life where everything goes right. As I said before, no-one is promised an easy ride, but it helps if you know the one reading the map. It gives you confidence that you’ll reach your final destination with lots of memories for the road.