It’s ten years today since I married my wonderful husband. It’s funny, it doesn’t seem possible that it can be ten years already and yet in many ways it feels like we’ve been married longer than that too. Our journey through married life has been quite different to how I imagined it might be. We’ve shared the joy that came with the arrivals of our three beautiful children, we’ve helped give each other strength through the challenges that came with parenting our beautiful heart warrior Jessica, and we’ve clung together in heartbreak as bereaved parents. It’s been quite the rollercoaster ride, but I would live it over again especially if it meant I could have that time with Jessica over again.
Today I’m sharing a look back on our wedding day ten years ago and some thoughts on what I’ve learned about marriage ten years on.
Our wedding day was one of the best days of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled quite so much. I had a big grin on my face from the moment I woke up that morning. The bridesmaids were a bit delayed at the hairdressers and we were very late arriving at church (32 minutes late – still the current record of bridal lateness amongst my married friends although a couple of have come close to it!) but thankfully it wasn’t a problem and everything went smoothly after that.
There are little moments that jump out at me when looking back over the day. The way M looked at me as I walked down the aisle; the round of applause when we became husband and wife; feeling like celebrities as we passed through the town on the way to reception venue with people stopping to watch; the cheer when hubby started his thank you’s with the traditional “my wife and I…”; our first dance; and then leaving for the hotel ready to set off on honeymoon the next morning.
Some of my most precious memories are of the moments with my dad who died five months after our wedding. I remember squeezing his hand tightly in the car as we traveled from my flat to the church and the pride in his voice when he told me I looked beautiful. He wasn’t able to walk me down the aisle, so my brother did instead. We stopped when we got to my dad and he gave me the biggest smile. He got a little confused during his speech and needed a little prompting from my mum, but his love shone through. When he ended with a very emotional “I just want to tell my daughter how much I love her” I think everyone was a bit misty-eyed.
It really was a beautiful day. It was hubby who insisted that we had a wedding video and I’ll always be thankful for that. Jessica used to love watching “the Mummy-Daddy video” as she called it. It captured so many beautiful moments from the day that I enjoy looking back over – especially that speech from my dad.
We spent our honeymoon in Switzerland, starting in Geneva and then travelling by train to spend a few days in Zurich. We paddled in Lac Léman in 30°C sunshine and went up the Jungfrau a couple of days later and played in the snow. It was amazing and I’d love to go back one day.
Ten years on
We have come a long way from that happy carefree young couple who got married that day. Parenthood has changed us hugely – and especially our life with Jessica. It taught us strength and to hold on to hope; to love more deeply than we ever thought possible; to make the most of the little moments and enjoy the here and now. It gave us our greatest joys and our most devastating heartbreak. I am thankful for all the joy that Sophie and Thomas continue to bring but having to live without Jessica as a forever incomplete family is the hardest thing we have ever had to do.
It does not surprise me that many marriages break down following the loss of a child. Ours has certainly been very strained at times since Jessica’s death. There have been moments when it feels like our grief is too big for our marriage to hold. But we know too that we are stronger together. We need each other and Sophie and Thomas need us too. My husband has been by my side every step of this journey; he is the only one who experienced the deepest joys and the darkest lows with me. We are woven together by the joys and the grief. Without him by my side, this journey would be so much harder.
The biggest thing I have learned in the last ten years is that communication really is key. Most of our arguments have been as a result of poor communication. When we really sit down and talk, it makes a huge difference. Even when it is hard to do so; even when the thoughts and feelings feel too big to talk through.
Time together is also important. We’ve struggled to make time just for the two of us since Jessica died – a combination of finding it hard to be alone in the early days of our grief and then the challenges of life with a small baby making opportunities for couple time more difficult to come by. I’m looking forward to having a spa day together later this month – our anniversary treat – and enjoying some quality time as a couple.
Marriage is not a “happily ever after” – it is the beginning of a new chapter together. It needs commitment and effort; little reminders that you are loved; being able to say “I’m sorry” and mean it. Marriage is about being a team – working together, sharing responsibilities and worries. It’s about respect for each other, love for each other, give and take. There are days when love comes easily and life feels great and days when everything feels like a huge battle.
“…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…”
I made those vows with sincerity ten years ago, although I don’t think I really understood just how important they were or what the reality of those promises could be. It has been quite the rollercoaster ride. Throughout the sunshine and the storms, I am thankful for the wonderful man I married ten years ago – my husband, my best friend and my soulmate.