on wednesday kelli and i celebrate four years of marriage. somehow we’ve managed to build an amazing life together. it hasn’t been without chaos and stress and moments where we think the other has lost their mind. i’m only pretty sure that she has had plenty of those thoughts.

but we have grown incredibly since the day we met, six years, three months and two days ago. i feel like to be where we are now is somewhat miraculous, and not because the odds were against us because that’s not the case. just in the concept of living and growing and making this family and a home together, there is a miracle to it. when human beings can forego their innermost senses of selfishness and individuality to build a family, it’s an incredible reality.

we have such different ways of going about life, such different ways of processing our thoughts and emotions and opinions. i’m an outward thinker, the way i process my thoughts is to spill them on the table and then sift through them to see if any of it makes sense. kelli is an internal processor, which means i never know what she is thinking. i envy that ability to keep thoughts and opinions inward, she wishes she could vocalize her feelings the way i can.

now, when i look at our daughter jade, i wonder what type of personality that she will grow into. will she be strong willed and opinionated like her father? will she be a helper and have a sweet soul like her mom? will she be like me and naturally oppose whatever is the latest trend? for example, people think it’s crazy that i’ve never seen an episode or any movie of the teenage mutant ninja turtles. why? because when i was kid, that’s all any of my friends would talk about, so naturally i just was turned off to them. weird right? i think i was about ten years old when they came out. it’s just the way i am.

last night i heard a quote that i think works great for marriage and life in general…”there is no ‘supposed to'”. i think we are usually under the impression that we are supposed to be certain people, supposed to have certain beliefs and supposed to like certain things. i’m learning as a husband and father that it’s okay to not be what others think i am “supposed to be, that i don’t have to be a certain person in order to feel fulfilled. it’s actually incredible how hard it is to put this thought in practice. the beautiful thing about life is being natural, being real and not pretending to be people we aren’t. that’s the lesson i hope jade learns from us as parents. i pray that she is open minded and free spirited enough to not feel burdened by expectations. i hope kelli and i are mindful enough not to burden her with those expectations.

being committed in life to another person while raising a tiny human can sometimes be overwhelming. our moments aren’t always graceful and picturesque. sometimes you just have to figure things out as you go along. there are plenty of self help books but there really isn’t a manual. there is plenty of chaos around us that we cannot control, but we can dictate our own responses. i’m pretty lucky to have my partner in life by my side as we try to figure out how to survive this world.

the first year.

so i’ve been married a year now. which seems incredible. i’m not shocked to have been married for a year, like it is some crazy accomplishment because i plan on being married to this woman for the next 75 years or so, give or take. it’s just shocking how fast this year has gone.

it’s shocking how much you really begin to rely on a person, how much you realize you need someone besides yourself to get by. i waited a long time to get married, i was 32 when i said i do.  i recommend not getting married before you are 30, especially men. it is not a myth that we mature at a much, let’s say, less rapid pace than women. in my 20’s i was fully committed to living for myself, doing what i wanted and when i wanted to do what i wanted. it was all about me. and i don’t regret that. i’m only pretty sure that if i had been married during those years, it would have been pretty difficult for whoever would have had the pleasure of dealing with me. it’s not that i’m a finished product by any stretch, just ask my wife about that, but i am in a much better place to be relied on, leaned on and trusted with someone else’s life and dreams and desires than before. at least i hope so.

marriage brings out the best and worst in each other. my favorite things about being with my wife are the simple things, i always having a dance partner at weddings and a travel partner for vacations. i don’t have to sleep alone and when i want to try out a new restaurant i have a beautiful woman excited to go with me. i get to dream big and better yet, i have someone who has even bigger dreams right next to me. sometimes we fight about stupid stuff, but never the big things and i like it that way. fighting about important things is scary and it’s a fear i never have to face because she and i are usually on the same page about those things. of course, fighting about little things can lead to big things but usually we can just laugh and say, remember when we fought about [insert silly fighting topic here] and then we are over it.

i don’t mean to glorify our marriage. it’s not perfect and we don’t try to be. we are both flawed, me more so than her, and in marriage those flaws are illuminated. my wife and i are also incredibly opposite in many ways. she despises being home alone with no one to keep her company, i look forward to uninterrupted nights watching a big sporting event at home. her idea of the perfect night always involves playing euchre or some sort of card game, i’d rather have teeth pulled. well not really, i’ve had teeth pulled. i’m a spender, she’s a saver. she’s a country girl at heart, i relax when i hear noise. all of these differences make us better at being together. we draw from each other and though sometimes for both of us it is like getting teeth pulled, we are better for it.

this first year of marriage has been an wild ride. we’ve been to more funerals and visitations in the past year than we have probably in our entire lives. we’ve seen tragedy strike our friends and family that you usually only see on television and movies. we’ve witnessed close friends getting married and friends announce they are having babies. we’ve traveled from one coast to the other and places in between. i’ve heard it said many times that the first year of marriage is the most difficult. if that’s the case, if this was the hardest, then the next 74 years will be truly amazing. marriage isn’t just an obligation to someone else. it’s a gift. really. i don’t write sappy stories very often, but when it comes to my wife, i sometimes cannot help myself. it’s not a “have to”, it’s a “get to”. we get to do this together. we get to be happy together, we get to mourn together, we get to travel together, we get to dream together. it’s actually pretty awesome and i’m pretty happy she chose me.

the freedom of our equality.

June 12, 2013 will mark the 46th anniversary of the supreme court ruling that struck down a ban on interracial marriage.

that means 46 years ago, in some states, i could have been charged with a crime for marrying my wife. actually i wouldn’t have been able to call her my wife because a marriage would have been illegal. i would not have been able to marry her. to love her completely. to live with her. to start a family with her. to share dreams with her. it would have been forbidden.

it was actually a law in many states that a black man could not marry a white woman.

people actually believed it was wrong.

why is that? because the shade of our skin doesn’t match? was it a moral issue? fear? religion? what basis was there?

why would anyone try to stand in the way of my personal business when it comes to who i love, who i want to be with? why would there have been a law permitting only people of the same skin color to marry, to live with each other? why would my marriage affect anyone else?

i cannot fathom living in a time where i could not marry the woman i loved because the law said so. i cannot imagine being told that living with her was unconstitutional.

it’s an outrage isn’t it? hopefully it’s an outrage.

today, i have gay and lesbian friends who are amazing people. they actually eat just like other human beings. they put their pants on the same way i do. one leg at a time. they have friends and relatives and moms and dads. the point is, they are just like the rest of humanity.

i understand that we all have different opinions and views. i actually believe that’s what makes america beautiful. i am proud to live in a nation where we can be free to worship as we please, or to not worship if we don’t want to, to believe as we wish and to be whoever it is that we want to be. we have the opportunity to dream, even if we never reach our goals, we have the ability to imagine them. not everyone in this world has these freedoms, and i refuse to take them lightly.

but here we are with gay marriage on the agenda. and it’s back to determining the laws governing people’s rights. i see gun control owners stampeding to buy more guns to protect themselves. i hear their boisterous cry to never let anyone take away the second amendment, as if that is even on the table. we all want our freedoms as protected by the constitution. i am not a gun owner, and probably never will be. i have vastly different opinions on the use of guns and for their necessity in our society. however, i would never try to change someones mind about gun ownership. some people believe that they are absolutely needed and if that is what you believe, so be it. that’s the beauty of america.

but what is ugly about america is when we try to stampede others. when we attempt to push others down with our beliefs. when we take our individual moral beliefs and use the legal system to back us up. when we say we want less government but cry that we will take our beliefs to the courts. how can this be?  the legal system is in place to protect our freedoms, that was the vision of our forefathers. it is not meant to be set up to take away the rights of our fellow citizens who have not committed a crime.  loving someone of the same-sex is not a crime. we might have differing beliefs as to the morality of it, but that is our individual right. in america we have the freedom to believe whatever it is that we want to believe, but it is not okay to use the government to force others into oppression because of our individual morality. precisely what the separation of church and state was meant to protect was the morality of the people. the right to have our morals and beliefs and ideas and opinions without suffering governmental persecution. the same applies today.

we might agree or disagree with the morality of same-sex marriage, but for us to use our beliefs to alter the rights of others is far from morality. the church may have it’s own opinion and view of what is moral in regards to gay marriage. churches in america have the freedom in this country to decide for themselves what will be permissible for them.  that is the beauty of america.

i am not using this blog to state my personal beliefs one way or another about gay marriage, though i have the right to do so. my goal in this post is to state that our protections that we enjoy, are in place because freedom is what we seek,what we have always sought in america. freedom for women voters, freedom for interracial marriage, freedom from tyranny from oppressive rulers in england that forced their religion upon the people. this is america and the freedom for individuals, where all men are created equal, still stands today.

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