Today is my anniversary. Tom and I have officially been married for sixteen years. That may sound a long time, but it hasn’t felt like it at all, well, for the most part.
Let’s face it, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Ours is no exception.
We sure have had our share of little problems as every couple out there does, be it the toothpaste cap, toilet seat, socks and underwear on the floor, or the nagging (although I never feel I am a nagger!), but we have always been able to work out our differences because the commitment to our relationship is too strong to let any little issues get in the way.
At dinner time a couple of days ago, I asked Tom, “Sixteen years ago would you ever have thought that you would be moving out of Chicago, working and living in China?” He said, “Not in a million years!”
But he IS living in China, away from his comfort zone, the familiar culture and life he was born into. Does he like it here? Oh yes! Any challenges? Plenty! But I know he is doing it for me, charting the unfamiliar territory so that I can live closer to my family, even just for a few years. That’s the kind of husband he is, loving and giving and supportive all the time.
My marriage to Tom was not a typical one: girl wed to boy next door in a scenario the groom comes to the bride’s house on the morning of the wedding day and the bride peeks out of the window and sees him coming up on the front porch.
For us, there was no need for the pick-up. I lived in the same apartment with him, but in my defense, I don’t think that automatically makes me a bad girl! You see, I was a new immigrant and came to America two weeks before my wedding on a fiancée visa. By law, I had to marry him within three months of my arrival to the new country. Even though I had to marry him within a time limit by law, I would have done it in a heart beat anyway, and would do it all over again!
We were married on Friday. Because of the obvious time constraints, we were married before a judge in a civil wedding. The ceremony was nice and short, but honestly everything was a blur because everything was so new to me. Only through the wedding photos do I see what happened that day with myself glowing in happiness in every single scene except one.
I was nervous while waiting for our turn outside the judge’s office. Did I have the wedding jitters? Second thoughts? Cold feet? Was my mind racing and thinking if I was marrying the right guy? Not slightly! The truth of the matter is, I was uneasy for an entirely different reason: not sure what kind of wedding vows the judge would have me repeat, I was terrified of messing up!
The wedding day was a typical January day for the Windy City, cold and snowy, the kind of soft snow, coming down gently and gracefully, not the hurried kind. I remember shivering in the beautiful maroon Qipao (traditional Chinese dress) that had been tailor made in Hong Kong.
I wasn’t aware of any old wives’ tale about snow on a wedding day and what that may represent. But I knew deep down I was hoping for a warm sunny day, which can symbolize nothing else but warmth, sunshine and love. But I know with sixteen years of my own experience there is nothing at all wrong with getting married on a snowy winter day. For all I know, it symbolizes purity of hearts, and the beauty of love.
Our wedding day was the second time I met my in-laws, but they made me feel part of the family with their open arms and hearts. One incidence stands out in my fond memory. My father-in-law bestowed heaps of praises on my long hair while I was thinking to put it up for the photo shoot, and for the day. I eventually took his advice and let my long hair naturally flow on my back.
My sister-in-law took our wedding pictures, with a film camera at the time. The photos turned out fantastic, accentuated with a thoughtful gift from her – a wedding album with our names and dates of the wedding engraved. Up to this day, that remains one of the most looked-at items in the house by the kids.
Fast forward several years, we had our two beautiful kids, moved from the studio apartment to our first condo, then the townhouse. But the move was always in the same neighborhood, where we thought we would live to our old age and where the kids would grow up, get married and have their own family. However, the lingering economic crisis sent us to the other side of the world. Like many expats, we are currently living in Shanghai.
A lot of things change in sixteen years, our bodies are no longer the same, but our hearts still feel the same love. I moved across the world to marry Tom without giving it a second thought, and I would do it all over again today!