A couple of years ago Mike and I were in a situation where young married couples were asked to give one word to describe their relationship. The only thing I could come up with was “fun.” Mike and I do have lots of fun together. We enjoy a lot of the same entertainment like movies and TV shows and sports, we laugh all the time, and we just enjoy being together. So, “fun” was my answer. (I can’t remember if it was our answer, or if we were both giving answers, or what the deal was. The important thing to remember is: Kari + Mike = Fun.)
As we went around the room, each couple said their word. I don’t remember any of the other couples’ words except for one. I remember the couple who went right in front of us. Their word was “journey.” I have never felt so shallow in my whole life. To go from “journey” to “fun” in 2.1 seconds . . . well, it just made me feel very small. And immature. The contrast seemed like, “We’re over here having a real relationship while the two of you have your silly fun.” (Not that anyone said that, just that that’s how I felt.) It has become something of a joke for me and Mike, a word we pull out when we’re trying to make the other person laugh. “I think things have been going well lately, don’t you?” “Yes, I think we are doing well on our journey.” (See? See how fun we are?)
In the past few years, though, the normal good and bad times of life have caused a bit of a shift, and something about yesterday’s entry made me realize: I don’t think that “fun” is the word that I would use anymore. Not that we don’t have fun, because we do. Our relationship is still characterized with a lot of laughter and goofing off. But the word I would use these days is “courage.” I see Mike being brave in so many ways, including going back to school and learning to deal with issues from his childhood. I see both of us learning how to open up more and more. I see the times we could have called it quits, and how we squared our shoulders and kept trying. It takes courage to do this thing, and we are bravely doing it together.