Dan and I dated throughout my entire first two years of college; I was wearing an engagement ring by the beginning of my Sophomore year; and we were married the summer before my Junior year, immediately following Dan's graduation.
As in all marriages, when two people become one, both are changed in countless ways. In other words, two people are, in some ways, redefined by the relationship. If it is a good relationship, that redefinition turns the two people into stronger and better individuals, and results in a strong and satisfying union.
While it seems that explaining how 39 years of marriage has defined my life would be an easy task, I found it very difficult. I think the reason is that it has defined me in so many ways that it's hard to identify a few specifics. But I'll try. Here are a few of the ways that marriage to Dan has defined me:
- I have confidence in making major decisions, because I never have to make them alone. All of our decisions are based upon "How will this affect us?" not, "How will this affect me?"
- I have become braver and more resilient. Because of Dan's encouragement and leadership, I have dared to attempt many things that I probably wouldn't have, otherwise. Some attempts turned out wonderfully; others didn't. But even our failures were good, because we learned by them and came out of the experience richer for having tried, and better prepared for the future.
- I lead a life free of fear. Because of Dan's faithful years of hard work, our children and I were never without the necessities of life. We've always had a warm home, food and clothes; and the past leaves me with no reason to fear the future.
- My faith in God has grown. We have been mutual encouragers, when it comes to spiritual matters. And we are constantly reminded that all of our efforts (even Dan's hard work) would not have been sufficient without God's hand working in our lives.
- I am a mother and grandmother. I can't imagine life without my two sons; not just any two sons, but the very ones God gave to Dan and me. And, through one of those sons I have gained a daughter and a granddaughter. I couldn't possibly define myself, today, without including the words "mother" and "grandmother."
- I laugh more. Dan puts a lot of joy and humor in my life.