A few years ago, a friend was telling me a story about his parents. They had a specific idea for their life together. Then, shortly after they were married, his mother made a huge, unforeseen life change: she took up a religion she had previously had no interest in. The religion she changed to held ideals that were opposite to the lifestyle her and her new husband had decided on. His mother is still in that religion, and his father never converted. Yet, they are still married. My friend had grown up with his mother’s religion. I asked if it frustrated him that his father never converted. He said sometimes he feels like his father is missing out, but mostly he’s thankful his dad didn’t leave his mother. “After all,” he had told me, “such a big change – and so sudden – was not what he had signed up for when he married her.”
When I was looking at wedding vows (because there is more than just one, standard set in existence, by the way), my friend’s story came back to me. ‘For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health’, they said. Essentially, ‘come what may, be it changing our minds, new hobbies, terrible accidents, or other unexpected events, I promise to still love you‘.
S celebrated his birthday on Valentine’s Day. He was given a pair of snazzy dress shoes, but they were slightly too big. He took the pair back and selected…. lime green tennis shoes. They’re kind of hideous, but besides that, S has always loved dressier shoes – since I’ve known him, anyway. I’ve been shoe shopping with him several times, and had to talk him into getting shoes that were more casual.
He had a ton of reasons why he liked that pair of shoes best. And, of course, my opinion doesn’t really matter when S is buying something for himself, so I encouraged him to get the shoes he wanted (even if they were lime green and a little hideous). When we got home, I asked why he selected those shoes instead of dressier ones. He shrugged and said, “I guess my lifestyle – our lifestyle – has changed. I’m biking now and we go to dog parks and go on walks a lot.”
People change. I didn’t marry a guy who loved riding bikes. I didn’t marry a guy who bought ugly shoes. But the man I married does those things now!
I’m glad that tastes change. I’m glad we can take up new hobbies. I’m glad the weather rotates so that we played in the snow a few weeks ago, and spent hours watching Katie run around and bark at a dog park last Saturday in perfect weather (I do love a cloudless sky. It’s the Texan in me).
Parents change. Siblings change. Spouses change. Friends change. We change.
Let’s not forget to give each other room to grow and explore.