An odd thought hit me this week when the wife and I celebrated our sixth anniversary: Wow, we’re only two years away from eight years, the length of my parents’ marriage.
When you come from a divorced set of parents you constantly worry about marriage. Or at least I do.
Before we had a baby we got to truly experience marriage — we traveled, we dined out, we took long weekends to Vegas, we spent time being married — and then we had our daughter. She came after the highs and lows that we battled together, strengthening our marriage and expanding our love.
Did my parents have the same luxury? Where did it go wrong?
Knowing them now, though, I have to think: Where did it go right?
My mom had me when she was 24. She told me that on my 24th birthday. I was single, on my way to Vegas with friends, ready to experience a weekend I might not remember other than through photos.
Clearly I wasn’t ready for a child. Maybe she wasn’t either. She ended up going back to finish her undergrad degree and then get her master’s, so there was unfinished business.
I was fortunate to experience my 20s as both a single guy and when I met my wife, I immediately fell in love. Did things go as we planned? No. We wanted to start a family after two years of marriage, but we took massive pay cuts right at the beginning of the recession, moved to the idyllic town of Santa Barbara and tried to make it work.
That experience gave us the feeling of relying on the other. Feeling secure in your counterpart. Being honest. Knowing that with each other, we could conquer almost anything. We slugged it out — financially, not with each other because she could clearly kick my butt — for four years before we realized that if we wanted to start a family, we weren’t getting any younger.
Did my parents have that? No.
But I can’t compare what I have to what they had. All I know is that it used to be a constant worry for me.
Now? It’s not even a blip on my life’s radar.
Which has set us up to provide a great home and familial environment for our daughter. Not that each of my parents didn’t try to do that, but when you get used to interrupted Christmases, trying to plan a weekend with your friends but unsure if you’re at dad’s or mom’s that Saturday, being a witness to bickering, and dealing with different sets of rules under different roofs, then your childhood is a little screwy.
Fortunately, after six years, I know my kiddo won’t ever have that. Maybe it’s because my wife’s immediate family — three siblings and her parents — know nothing about divorce. Maybe it’s because my dad was remarried for 20 years after or that my mom is about to celebrate her second marriage’s 20th anniversary next year. Maybe it’s because my marriage experience is nothing like my parents’ marriage.
Maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe you just find the right person at the right time in your life and everything just works.
What I do know, however, is that at six years I am way past where my parents were at eight. I’ve stopped comparing. I don’t have to fight for my marriage while trying to raise a child.
And that is why we can funnel our energy to making sure our kid is happy. Because we are happy.