Julie and Michael met when Julie joined the law firm where Michael was a paralegal. They became “easy friends long before we realized we loved each other,” according to Julie. But, Michael says, “within a year or so we decided that we wanted to be married and started the process of planning a marriage ceremony. Since we had both done traditional weddings in our first marriages we decided that we wanted a ceremony that was completely about us. We chose to have a small ceremony at a local state park overlooking the ocean. We were married by a close friend and her partner. A week or so after the ceremony we had a small party with family to celebrate our marriage and honor our four children.”
Fast forward fifteen years, having raised their children and started their own businesses, and Julie and Michael have recently become empty nesters. Julie explains that the new phase in their relationship was difficult at first: “Our lives suddenly stopped revolving around sporting events, dance recitals, sleepover parties and school plays, and we found it difficult to relate to one another in a now quiet house. It took some time for us to figure out who we are as a couple as we entered this new phase of life. It can be daunting and scary to communicate your fears and unhappiness to your spouse, but the more we came clean about these things, the better and stronger our relationship became. What we found was that our relationship could weather the storms and that we could accommodate each others’ needs and wants, once we knew what those were. It was the silence and the not-knowing that was the true threat to our marriage.”
Because Julie and Michael’s marriage started with kids already in play, their first time as just the two of them came much later, and they have embraced it. “Our ‘new life’ now includes lots of firsts that we didn’t have the time, energy or money for when our children were younger. Michael is joining me in practicing yoga and running. We’ve taken stand-up paddle boarding lessons, traveled to Ireland together, hiked numerous mountains in our area, danced at lots of local concerts and music events and enjoy cooking new dishes for each other in the evening. This is a new and different level of relating with each other, one based more on fun, adventure and trying new things. We’d almost lost touch, in the day-to-day raising of our family and meeting the various demands from the outside world, with that sense of joy in being together and doing something exciting and fresh.”
One of the keys to their marriage? Laughter! Says Julie, “We laugh every single day, loud and together, over lots of things. A shared sense of humor has carried us through so much. The sound of my husband belly laughing until tears are rolling down his cheeks is the best sound in the world to me and never, ever fails to cause me to join in, no matter if I know the cause of his laughter or not. His laughter is my medicine.”
“The only surprise I can think of about marriage is to learn that after fifteen years, two people and a marriage can continue to evolve, grow and mature, all for the better,” says Michael. “By remaining open to each other’s feelings, emotions, desires, and with communication, a partnership and marriage can become something that you never in your wildest dreams imagined it could be. You watch your friend grow and blossom into a mature, wonderful, courageous person and your heart expands and grows beyond belief.”
“Snapshot of a Marriage” is a series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was important to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too! Click here to see previous Snapshots.