Wednesday, June 12, 2013

ten years

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I married the love of my life, but I didn’t always believe that. 

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I married Joe. I said, “I do, I promise, I love” to him, in front of our closest friends and family. And I meant it. Mostly. 

It’s taken this long-- almost 15 years together, 10 years married, turning 40, all of it to figure out where I was 10 years ago versus where I am now. And how our story has been the most perfect, beautiful, RIGHT story ever. For US.

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We started out as friends. And, due to various complicated circumstances in our lives, we started dating with a “no promises” rule firmly intact. All of my close friends gently hinted that I may want to give Joe a real chance, that he was awesome and we may have a future together, but I adamantly denied that possibility. I had long dreamt of how my future man was going to come into my life, how the story was going to play out and this wasn’t it. 
And then, 3 months later, I had fallen in love with him.

I totally did not see it coming.

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Let’s digress for a second and talk about BAGGAGE. Everyone has it, right? My theory has always been that some people’s baggage plays out in their work life, some with their friends, and some people’s baggage continually plays out in their romantic relationships.
You know what I’m talking about, right? You have those friends whose relationships have their occasional ups and downs but, overall, they seem pretty seamless. But then maybe they struggle in another realm of their life. You know what I mean?
Well, Joe and I BOTH play out the vast majority of our baggage with our significant other. It can make for some good times. Put two Aries together and you’ve got some drama.

In 2003 we got married, surrounded by a small group of people we loved and trusted. And then we were husband and wife. And that’s when the work, the REAL work, all began. We fought, struggled, freaked out, consoled, and pushed one another’s buttons over and over and over again. No matter how hard things were at certain points,  though, we pushed on and challenged each other to confront the demons that were coming between us. Amidst the painful times, we loved and fought for each other. We laughed our asses off. We had a million adventures. The good stuff made the hard stuff worth it.

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Somewhere in the last few years we realized that, unbeknownst to us, we each had had one foot out the door when we got married, and for awhile afterwards. In simple terms, we were terrified-- terrified of loving too hard and being left, terrified of reliving childhood trauma, terrified of believing that this love, this marriage could really work. We figured out that we hadn’t always been “all in” in this marriage because, all of a sudden, we WERE. We are. We are all in.

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Joe is my home and my family. He is the one that makes me laugh the hardest, he’s my biggest supporter, and my best road-trip companion. He still pushes my buttons more than anyone on the planet, but he also teaches me about unconditional love every day. He surprises me with his wisdom and insight all the time. He exudes kindness and warmth with everyone he meets. He is my favorite hugger.

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This past weekend, we gathered a few family members and a group of close friends in one big house for a few days on Whidbey to celebrate our anniversary. There was more love and laughter in that group of 22 than I can possibly recount here. In some ways, the weekend was even more special than our actual wedding, probably because of the journey we have undergone to get to where we are now. This past weekend was not only a celebration of our marriage, but a celebration of the people who have loved and supported us through it. Over the years Joe and I have learned, often painfully, that when things are hard, we need our people to hold our hands and help us through the darkness. Not everybody is willing or able to do that job, but we feel incredibly blessed to have people in our lives who are.

So, this rambling post is dedicated to love, to marriage, to real friends, family and community, to finding the person with whom you feel at home, to laughter and growth. This post is dedicated to Joe and to many, many more years together.

Happy anniversary, babe.

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Unknown said...

Oh my goodness, you guys have some ADORABLE photos together :) Happy Anniversary!

Tess Thompson said...

This is beautiful. Tears! Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. xoxo

Marilyn said...

Congratulations, Clare. I love that you wore a red wedding dress. (That was your wedding dress, wasn't it?) Thanks for sharing your journey, and particularly your realization that at the beginning you weren't really in your marriage. Enjoy being in it now!

Libby said...

Love your photos and the story. Happiest of Anniversaries and a lifetime of fun & love.

Libby said...

Love love the photos

Joan Leonard said...

Clare, this sharing of your and Joe's journey is awe-inspiring. I think such honesty, wisdom, love and integrity are rare. I loved being with you to celebrate your anniversary. You do have a strong beautiful supportive circle; amazing people! I am so happy for your and Joe's love and happiness.
Thank you for sharing this.

~Heather said...

Happy anniversary, Clare and Joe! (I remember Joe from when I worked at Cornish eons ago.)

What wise words you write about the challenges and brightness of marriage, that can only come from experience.

You shot our wedding 14 years ago this August and I'm so amazed at how wonderfully your photography business has become a thriving adventure for you. Your image of me and Michael sits on my desk and it's something I look at every day.

Unknown said...

What a cool, wonderful post! You two are a great model for happy marriages!

Angie Burke said...

Hey Clare, just checking in on your blog, and loving this post so much!!! Congratulations on the anniversary! Real, long lasting love stories are my favorite kind. Thanks for sharing this!

Brandi said...

I enjoyed reading your journey with your husband. Made me think of my own. We will celebrate 17 years in August. Happy Anniversary to you and your husband. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness.