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What’s the biggest chance you ever took? Did it work out? Do tell!

This seems like a repeat question, but I’ll expound on marriage, which I think is the biggest risk any two people take. Falling in love is great — a high — a dream of a blissful life. Then the wedding, almost every bride’s dream (do grooms get as into the wedding planning as the bride?), and for many couples, a religious vow and an unbreakable bond.

I had a very small wedding, so the planning was pretty simple. I never had the pressure and grand anticipation that some couples do. Three of my children have had lovely weddings and it was great fun helping to plan and be a part of the excitement.

I often wonder, though, is there a let down after all that build up to the “best” event of one’s life, and then a romantic honeymoon in some exotic place? We didn’t go on a honeymoon after our wedding, just took a few days off, then went back to work. Because I married an English man, and we were living in London at the time, we saved money and went to the Florida to visit my family several months after we were married, which was a turning point since it put the idea in my husband’s mind that he’d like to move to the states — even if not Florida.

I think our real marriage started after we arrived in the States, about two years after we were married. My husband got his U.S. job with a firm in Britain, but I had to find a job, and did eventually get one I loved. But there was also the house buying, and yard work, the settling down into the work-a-day world. When children came about 5 years after we arrived, the real work began!

It’s in this process of living a normal life with its ordinary cares and worries, that a couple begins to learn about one another. Juggling families, not only who to see when, but their influence on how you “should” do things begins to weigh in. I can remember having disagreements about how to decorate the Christmas tree in the beginning! Other little clashes creep in, and those become even more apparent when you have children, especially after they move into the toddler years: how to discipline them, what to feed them and what’s no-no, if you should let them cry themselves to sleep or cuddle them, so many little things, so many differences depending on how each person was raised.

A tired mommy and daddy have less time to spend alone with each other, and most of their focus is on children, job, money, spending, that the original “falling in love high” seems forgotten, and often suffers. In truth, I think that because mothers spend so much time nurturing a loving bond with their children, that a dad can get kind of left out of the affection chain, and that strains a relationship. But it is one phase of life where children do require a lot of time and effort — and that doesn’t end until they’re teens — and then other problems can arise. Really, once you’re a parent, you are still a parent no matter what are your child is, even if they’re an adult. You still care and worry about them, but at least the daily pressure is off.

Along the way any number of problems can crop up — stressful or sad or unhappy events — and how a man and wife cope with those challenges the commitment of their wedding vows. The true test of a relationship and the character of the partners is not tested until there are problems. When life is going well, commitment isn’t really in question, but how each person reacts and how well they get through the tough times is the true test. Fortunately, we have weathered some really difficult periods, and come out the better for it. I’m sad when people who should be able to draw strength from one other are disappointed or deserted when they need the support the most. Perhaps “the spark is gone”, but I fear that more often the will to persevere is lost.

Family is the core of our lives, it’s what gives us the most pleasure, and watching it increase by marriage and offspring is worth every bit of effort we put into our relationship.