Young couple proves age doesn't matter when it comes to love
The bitter cold of a February day bit at my legs as I waited to see her. I shivered, and whether it was from the cold or out of anticipation I will never know. Hushed voices brought my eyes to the stairs where my sister, Morgan, stood glowing.
Immediately I felt my eyes burn and my voice catch in my throat. She glided towards my little sister and I; her white, lace train following behind her. We hugged, both of us crying, every emotion threatening to ruin our make-up. She was married. She was our eldest sister and our best friend.
Perma-smiles were plastered on the married couple's faces as they greeted family and friends, took pictures out in the frigid air and listened to the traditional wedding toasts. There was no faking the absolute bliss that leaked out from my sister and her groom, Gordon, as the started their first dance as a married couple under a canopy of Christmas lights.
And while I was pleased that Morgan was obviously the happiest she had ever been, I couldn't help but feel a pang of anxiety. After all, my sister was only 19.
Morgan and Gordon met in 2008 while attending the same church. Morgan had relocated to Edmonton from Calgary, where she knew very few people and was living on her own for the first time. Gordon and she became fast friends, sometimes going to each other's homes at 2 a.m. to watch movies.
Eleven months after meeting, they were engaged. And of that time, they had only dated for three months. Morgan would say, in her defense: "But that was like being together all the time. So not just 'Hey, how's it going?'"
Regardless, I still had my doubts. Three months was virtually no time, especially since five of those weeks had been spent apart as Gordon traveled in Brazil. How could Morgan really know that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with someone she had known for less than a year?
And I wasn't alone. Mom says she accepted her eldest daughter's engagement but had a fear that Morgan was simply in love with the fanciful dreams of a "happily ever after." She repeated again and again, "Loving someone takes work." And after 25 years of marriage, she would know the reality of marriage.
Dad openly worried about the inevitable wedding.
"I just didn't want her to rush into any decisions that would have long term implications," he said.
"When you're young, you have one mind set and as you age and get a little bit more experienced with life your perspective sometimes changes and what you're looking for sometimes changes.
"And I wanted to be (sure) that she was mentally prepared for being married and wasn't caught up in the romance and the Disney, fairy-tale scenario that might've been painted in her mind from watching 'Cinderella.'"
A few times, dinner-table discussion ended in tears. Morgan would barricade herself in the room we shared as she tried to receive acceptance and support from her family. She says that she had proved to our father over the past two decades that she was mature and responsible enough to make the life-changing decision of marriage.
But nothing would change Morgan's mind. Just like my mother and grandmother, my sister was head-strong and as independent as ever.
"I knew I was going to go through with it anyway so it didn't really matter," she said.
While Gordon, a stocky guy from Cranbrook, B.C., was marginally older at 22, his friends couldn't believe that he wanted to settle down so early.
"They wanted me to go out and enjoy other women from other places," he said.
At such a young age, they felt he was limiting himself too soon, missing out on the supposed best years of his life. They thought marriage would take away all his freedom to have fun.
Gordon says he tried to explain to his friends that he didn't think of marriage as a chain around his ankle, but they didn't understand. They couldn't fathom that even as a married man, he could still be himself and have all the freedom he wanted.
Like a classic tale of love and opposition, Morgan and Gordon never wavered from the commitment they had made to be married. And they did just that, a week before Valentine's Day.
Making it work
Now just shy of their two-year anniversary, I can see that my worries were unfounded.
Even Dad has had a change of heart.
"I'm happy for her and happy that both Morgan and Gordon seem to be adjusting to it and everything is happy in paradise, so it seems," he said.
"And as long as they're happy and that they can make it work that's all you can ask for."
Morgan said: "You can't really imagine ever being without that person. Your life is inseparable."
But they both say that you have to be fully committed to your spouse and fully committed to making the marriage work. Marriage is not for the faint of heart.
"I think the problem now is people aren't willing to put in the effort or don't understand what makes a good marriage," Morgan said.
Every day is another day of work; working to be the best spouse possible, she says.
But it's not always easy when they are being pulled in what feels like a million different directions. Morgan is in her final year of the bilingual nursing degree and Gordon is a fourth-year a bachelor of science student, both at the University of Alberta. The degrees are demanding, and between her practicum, his labs and the multitude of assignments and tests, time and energy are scarce, the couple says.
But that doesn't stop them from making the most of their marriage. Morgan says anything that's worth it takes work.
From Friday date nights to their daily 30-minute couple time, the two do what they can amidst their hectic schedules to stay connected.
"I think a lot of people don't realize that being in the same room with someone is not quality time." Morgan said.
"People don't make that quality time for each other."
Both Morgan and Gordon say that spending quality time together keeps their relationship strong.
While their marriage is still in its early stages, Gordon and Morgan say they have had a few rough patches. She says she knows that,"it's not going to be all rainbows and unicorns."
But Morgan's mantra is "compromise, compromise." The self-proclaimed planner and clean freak contrasts with her more laid-back husband, so it's important that they compromise on their comforts and priorities.
Gordon says, "Put your spouse before yourself, always." He says that to make his wife happy, he has learned to adjust his habits. Some days, it comes down to Gordon attending to the seemingly trivial matter of the growing pile of grimy dishes or finishing a video game, Morgan says with a laugh. But it's these little compromises that create a balance in this young couple's life.
While they are still considered newbies to the life of marriage, I know that Morgan and Gordon aren't stuck in that honeymoon mentality. They realize that their wedding-day bliss won't last forever. But they know that the happiness they felt can strengthen as long as they put in time and energy to reminding their spouse how much they love them.
Quoting our mother, Morgan says, "Sometimes it takes work to love somebody," and then pausing to reflect, she adds, "but sometimes the work is easy because you love somebody."
- By DEVON JOLIE