When I was single (for most of my life), I used to consider couples who were celebrating their 25th anniversary, or their 50th or even their 10th, and think that the point of being married was to stay married for a very long time. I thought you must have to start early so you could hit those markers as soon as possible. I also believed that once you got married, you HAD to stay married no matter how miserable or even dangerous the marriage became because you were going for that 50th anniversary gold medal. Surprisingly, I believed this even though I was born and raised in California, land of divorce in the 1970's and 80's.
I believed that the early years of marriage must feel very discouraging because you'd just be looking at that long haul ahead of you and how long it would be before you'd get any recognition for having a successful union. I thought it would feel like a combination of waiting for Christmas and graduation day, but with the added drag of having nothing to do to make that golden anniversary happen but hang in there. For fifty years.
But now that I'm (finally) married myself, it actually feels very different. Maybe that's because Bob and I were 41 and 45 when we got married, so there's little chance that we'll still both be here 50 years from now, although I know it's possible. But it's more because I realize now that the accomplishment was just getting married. On my wedding day, I felt like I had finally achieved a surrender that I had struggled with for a long time. Finally, I was consenting to being a wife and I was very relieved to find I was actually capable of that. I had fought myself on this marriage thing for so long that I had stopped believing I could be vulnerable enough to really form a bond.
As a child of the 1970's, I don't expect any marriage to last, mine included, so now I look at each day that we're actually happy as an extra accomplishment, on top of the task of getting married at all. I don't care about making it last until we're dead and I'm not focused on how many people we'll one day impress with our longevity. Also, I'm now aware that some of those big ticket anniversaries hide (and sometimes not too well) some pretty bad marriages, so hitting those numbers feels more meaningless than ever. Bob and I are coming up on our second anniversary in a couple of months and I'm glad to still be glad to be wife (hey, it's the Big 2nd!).