Some of my best memories have happened in and around a pool with family and friends. I think of laughter and fun and relaxation when I see a swimming pool.
And it blows my mind that people could see a marriage and think of those same things. Laughter? Fun? Relaxing?
More like terrifying, overwhelming, and disastrous. And yet the possibility is looming in my not-so-distant future.
I recently contemplated that I could someday actually enjoy marriage enough to say to my husband, “I’m sorry I was so afraid of this.” It was strange to imagine that one day I’d feel silly for being so frightened over something so good and fun.
Then I realized his reply could be something like this:
“If a child had seen his father drown his mother in a pool and try to drown him, too, you wouldn’t tell him he was being completely silly for being afraid of swimming pools.
You might show him how much fun it could be and coax him in when he’s ready. But as he finally laughs and plays in the pool and then turns to you and says, ‘I’m sorry I was so scared of this. I can’t believe I was so stupid,’ you wouldn’t say, ‘Yeah, I tried to tell you a long time ago to stop worrying about it.’
No, you’d feel sorry that anyone has had to go through something so horrible that it would make them afraid of something that brings so much joy. You’d tell him it’s not his fault and that you’re proud of him for overcoming his fear.
So that’s what I’m telling you. I’m sorry you had to go through so much pain growing up that you weren’t able to comprehend how great marriage could be until now. I’m just glad you decided to give it a chance anyway.”
If you’re like me, I hope that sinks in as much as it did for me.
Just like it’s crazy for me to think that anyone could not love a swimming pool as much as I do, I guess there are people out there who can’t imagine someone so scared of marriage that they won’t even give it a try.
And just like I would want that little boy to move past his traumatic experience enough to be able to enjoy swimming, I want myself to take those steps to see how amazing marriage can be.
In the past, I’ve allowed the negative relationships I’ve seen to outweigh all the positive ones. Because it hit closer to home, the negative stories seemed more real, more believable. But I’m realizing that the damage done doesn’t have to be permanent. Good marriages are real, too.
It’s easy for me to have hope for a child I’ve never met who had such strong negative images about a swimming pool that it canceled out any good memories he had.
But seeing it as something similar to what I do with marriage helps me believe I can soon have good memories about marriage. So many good memories, in fact, that I realize that my view from the beginning (of marriage being bad) was the view that was skewed, rather than the other way around.
By the way, this is not an invitation for you to tell me that marriage actually is the worst thing ever. As I mentioned, I’ve seen the ugly side of it and fixated on that enough. It’s time for a different perspective. I look forward to the day when I say, “Why was I afraid of this!?!!!”
I think part of the problem is that people seem fine with sharing all the horrible things about marriage, but they don’t say, “Marriage is mostly horrible, but also there are some really good things about it.”
On the flip side, maybe I just overlook the positive things people say about marriage because I don’t believe it. But also when people actually talk about how great marriage can be, they usually add, “But it is really hard and there’s a lot of bad that can happen, too.”
And as my boyfriend pointed out, people probably aren’t as vocal when they’re happy with their marriage because they don’t want to come across as bragging about something other people don’t have. Plus, they know there’s always the chance something horrible could happen later in their marriage.
Even though there are real dangers in swimming, I don’t let that stop me from enjoying a day at the pool. And I don’t intend to let fear of potential hardships keep me from enjoying marriage and dealing with any problem as it arises.
And actually, when I was a baby, I did very nearly drown. My face turned purple and blue, and I eventually threw up a bunch of water. I don’t remember it, but still my parents could’ve used it as an excuse to keep me from ever going swimming. They could’ve frightened me away from it by telling me all the bad things that could happen.
Instead, I learned to swim at the age of two or three. Instead of avoiding the possibility of another tragedy, I was taught a healthy way to deal with water. I learned some things that gave me an advantage.
And so instead of avoiding relationships altogether, I’ve continued to learn how to have stronger ones.
I’ve talked before about how being single is awesome, but it comes with its own set of struggles. Staying away from swimming pools wouldn’t keep that child out of danger. He could get hurt any number of ways. Avoiding pools just ensures that he misses out on the fun he could be having.