No, these were not our engagement pictures. In fact, I was almost 5 months pregnant with #1 when these were taken.
I like to look at these pictures (and gasp! my face is now out there! and so's DH's!) to remind myself of my former beauty. DH and I were young, thin, healthy, excited about the future, and anxiously awaiting the birth of our first child.
It was a wonderful time.
Now that's not to say that now isn't wonderful, too, but it's just different. We're fat(ter), older, tired, anxiously engaged in raising 3 crazy kids, filling our lives full with callings, work, our families, our children, our yard, our house, and desperately trying to keep ourselves as in love as ever amid the chaos.
As an MFHD major in college (yes I was and I make no apology) I learned a lot about marriage. A LOT. DH and I took marriage prep from Prof. Barlow, and we also took pre-marital counseling from Jeffrey Larson. I did intense study on marriage and divorce statistics, and perhaps, one day, I will go back to BYU and get my MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy) Master's degree. But oh! Does this make me an expert?
Not even close.
Dr. Larson pointed out (and still does in the latest Marriage and Families newsletter for winter 2006) that there are 3 stages of Marriage: Romantic Love; Disillusionment and Distraction; and then Dissolution or Adjustment with Resignation or Contentment.
I'm smack in the middle of the 2nd stage. Why? Well, come on! We're on our 7 year "itch", we have small children, we're attempting to save money for the future of those children along with our own impending retirement, and we hardly see each other anymore. Nothing kills the romance like #3 crying in the night or #1 accidentally walking in on us. Just kidding! Hasn't happened! I promise! (well, #3 crying has plenty of times...but not #1 walking in...) But just the thought that it could happen can kill the moment.
So, my goal, which is probably the most important goal that I could ever or will ever have, is to make sure DH and I can get through this 2nd stage in one piece. Elder Nelson's talk in April 2006 conference was inspirational to me. And not because I thought DH needed to hear it (although I'm positive he did), but because I needed to hear it. I need to apply those things to my part of the relationship as well.
Of course, changing myself alone will not change everything, but it sure will help. DH does his best and I know he loves me. That is a great start. But am I doing my best? Does he know that I love him? Or is the nagging and the complaining becoming too commonplace? Am I really appreciative that he works his rear off for these 3 long months so that we can have our home? Our cars? Our nice vacations? These questions always plague me during my "widowship". But this year, I am embracing them. I can feel a change inside of me. Some of my selfishness is melting away. Not quite unlike the ice-caps, but we'll talk about that later... :)
I guess I'm just starting to realize that infamous apolostolic question: "Is it I, Lord?" Am I the one at fault if the marriage isn't perfect? To look at myself and change myself is so much better than to blame and belittle.
I'm still learning. I'll get there one day...