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Alex and I have been married for 5 years.  29 November 2008 seems like a lifetime ago.  Since we got married we’ve studied further, travelled the world, moved house and started a company together- all activities that are guaranteed to bring you closer together.  Sometimes I struggle to remember what it was like before we met – now 12 years ago. It feels as though this has been my life forever.

This past weekend we were doing some much needed spring cleaning.  Two people blessed to live in a lovely large home means we have WAY too much place to store things we really don’t need and we’re on a minimalist mission- especially after visiting friends in London who have a minute 2-bedroom home, yet everything that they could possibly need folds out of a cupboard, is stored as a wall-hanging or can be pulled out from under the couch.  Anyway, during the clean-up we came across a box of souvenirs, scraps and love letters from while we were dating.  What a fantastic trip down memory lane! 

All cleaning ground to a complete halt as we pulled out random cards, letters and diary entries.  There were commemorations of what seemed like big anniversaries at the time.  There were 21st birthday and Christmas cards.  We found multiple letters that had been posted back and forth during my community service year, and day-by-day notes for when we were apart for more than a few days.  The bits and pieces were cute.  The notes, sweet.  But what really got to me were the longer letters – the ones where either Al or I had needed to get something larger off our chest.  I was comforted to see that after all this time, the basics of who we are and what we believe to be important have not changed.  Not even one little bit.

There were also other memory-joggers amongst the 21st and wedding invitations from the last 10 years, including funeral notices. We’ve lost a significant amount of people over the last few years, but the one that left the biggest hole was definitely Alex’s mom.  She was sick at our wedding, although we didn’t realise how sick.  She ended up in hospital while we were on honeymoon and wouldn’t let anyone tell us.  She passed away 2 weeks after we got back.  As I paged through photos, some notes she’d written and read her rusk recipe, I was reminded just how much we lost that day.  We hope for children sometime soon and it really saddens me that they will never get to know this special granny.

Of all the things we’ve learnt about marriage and give-and-take, compromise and loving even when you don’t feel lovely, cherishing family is right up there on our Most Important list.  They’re the ones who’ll support you through the unknowns that married life throws at you.  And they’re the ones you’ll miss the most when you watch your friends celebrate milestones with their extended families: engagements, weddings, anniversaries and the arrival of children.

As we’ve learnt more than ever in the last year, even the oh-so-smooth looking relationships will be thrown a curve-ball at some point.  It’s good to know that my partner-for-life and I are in this together.  We might not write long letters anymore, but we’re still having the conversation. Now we are able to talk about the big issues face to face rather than jotting them down in a letter, but in essence, nothing has changed.  Without wanting to sound old, I hope that the next generation will not miss out on the joy of finding a yellowing page and reminiscing with their spouse of that exciting time of dating before Facebook!

[To read another Marriage Year 6 story, this time with Colette and Andrew Tennison, click here]

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