A couple of days ago the husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. Well, I say ‘celebrated’. Truth be told it was kind of a weird day. But that’s for a future blog post, coming soon… 😉
I can’t quite believe that we’ve been married for three years already – it’s crazy how fast that time seems to have gone. I look back at photos from our wedding day and all four of the girls look so little and young compared to now (Lola was only four!), and yet at the time I thought they seemed really grown up.
Although we’ve only been married for three years we’ve actually been together for almost thirteen. And gosh we’ve been through a lot together in that time – both awful and wonderful – and survived relatively intact. Three babies, six house moves, the loss of three grandparents and one parent, three car crashes, more job changes than I can even begin to count, and that’s just for starters. Much like any other couple I imagine – it doesn’t make us special, it just makes us real.
I started this blog after we were married and so I’ve never actually shared our wedding photos apart from with friends and family on Facebook. This little space is for me to document our family story so the girls have something to look back on as they get older, and it feels important to include this particular milestone in our journey and have a tangible record of the day we became husband and wife.
These are my favourite photos from our wedding day. There were so very many more I could have included, particularly of all of our guests and the little details that made the day so personal for us. But it would have become an even more epic post if I did that. Our wedding photographer, Steve Sutton, and his assistant Claire, did such a wonderful job of capturing all the moments that mattered – some posed (which I didn’t think I wanted originally but it turns out that I kind of did!), and some candid documentary style. Every single one of these images has caught a moment that I wanted to keep and for that I will be forever grateful.
Having my family and my two best friends (who are basically sisters to me anyway) there to share the day with us meant so much. I’m so sad that my Nana and Grandad couldn’t be there, having both passed away in recent years, but, as clichéd as it sounds, they were there in spirit. Our four girls were bridesmaids of course, along with my two best friends, and I couldn’t have asked for better sidekicks and supporters on the day.
Our wedding day will always be inextricably linked with my Dad in my mind. I can’t think of one without thinking of the other. It was the last time I ever saw him before he died of advanced lung cancer that no-one knew he had, and these photos (plus the many others that were so poignantly captured on the day) are the last things I have to remember him by. Our relationship has not been easy over the years and we were just beginning to get properly back on track and reconnect with each other. He walked me down the aisle, serenaded me on the dance floor, flirted with my friends, told stories in the way that only he could, drank far too much, gave a heartfelt speech that made me cry and let me see the real, humanly vulnerable him underneath the extrovert mask that he always used to wear. I miss him terribly and the moments in these photos will stay with me forever more.
As I look through all of these photographs I’ve been reflecting on what marriage means to me.
Neither Neil nor I were particularly keen to get married originally. In fact he was quite against it, saying that it’s just a couple of rings and a piece of paper. I could see his point – after all, we both knew we weren’t going anywhere, and we were already deeply committed to each other. But in the year leading up to the approach of our ten-years-together anniversary, something in both of us must have unconsciously reconsidered, and when he proposed on Christmas Day, knee deep in discarded wrapping paper and toys, I didn’t want to say anything other than a wholehearted “Yes!”.
I have to admit that in the initial months following our wedding I didn’t really feel any different. We carried on exactly as we had been before, working, raising our children, and making plans for the future.
But as time has gone on I’ve realised more and more that whilst on the surface nothing has changed, something inside me has shifted quite profoundly. The commitment that we had to each other before feels deeper. We communicate better. And whilst I can’t speak for him I know for sure that I work on our marriage every single day – I do my best to show him I love him in the love language that he understands, I say ‘I do’ to him through my actions whenever I can, and I choose him every single day.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy. We don’t always get it right. It’s hard with four children. That on it’s own would be tough enough with all the emotional management and parenting ups and downs involved. And then when you add in to that me being full-time self-employed as a therapist and growing a second business (this blog and my photography) in the evenings, him working long and inconsistent shifts plus the general all encompassing busy-ness of life, sometimes we don’t manage it and we slip down each other’s lists of priorities. Eventually we do realise and remember each other and reconnect – sometimes it takes a couple of hours, sometimes a couple of days and sometimes a couple of weeks. We’re absolutely not perfect at all – I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a perfect relationship. He does things that drive me insane and I can say with confidence that I do things that frustrate him immensely too. But we love each other and we’re willing to put in the work to keep our relationship alive in the way we want it to be. I’m not sure we’d be where we are now if we hadn’t chosen to get married – it’s been the difference that’s made the difference.
This is us.