I didn’t learn how to swim until I was 23 years old. My parents signed me up for a swim class when I was younger, but when they found out that I was hiding in the bathroom during the class, they decided to let me stop going to class altogether. There wasn’t a single pool party or water theme park with friends along the way that could motivate me to face my fear of drowning. But after meeting the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I knew I had to take the plunge.
Soon after meeting my future husband I discovered that he was a lover of all things water. He grew up spending his summers at a nearby lake with his family, so swimming was just a given. A year later we were engaged, and then it hit me—I’m afraid of swimming and about to marry a fish! How could I share a life with this man if I was afraid of drowning? I didn’t want to spend my lifetime with him unable to share in something that he loved, and I realized that eventually I was going to have to face my fear.
It’s actually a pretty good metaphor for life in marriage, isn’t it? Sometimes we’re afraid of the commitment—people even refer to marriage as “taking the plunge” because of the fear often associated with diving into something so unknown.
My fiance and I started out slowly. We went kayaking together, and I felt comfortable because I was with him—and because I had a life jacket. But when faced with the future of missing out on being in the water with him when we were married, I knew that if he was going in the water, then so was I. And I didn’t want to be afraid that I might drown. After we had been married a few months, I started really thinking about the future, having children together, and knowing that we would be out in the water with our hypothetical children at some point. I had to learn how to swim, and finally signed up for an adult learn-to-swim class. My husband came to my class and watched a couple of times, and I was so proud to show him how quickly I had learned to swim. I owe my courage to finally learn to swim to my husband. He was patient and never pressured me and even offered to teach me himself when I was ready.
Certainly in the years after our wedding day, experiences like the birth of two children, job uncertainty, my husband joining the military, and moving three times, have also demanded courage, even while we were unsure about how these new challenges might change our life. But I had learned to swim for the same reason I chose to commit to my husband in marriage, so that neither of us would have to face deep water alone. Never once did I feel like I was about to drown or that these new experiences would overwhelm me.
Two years ago, the military moved us so that we are only a few miles away from the ocean. I’m developing a serious appreciation of the water. Five years into our marriage, my husband and I go on beach dates where we take turns on our boogie board and soak up the sun. We don’t always know what the future holds, but we have the confidence that our commitment in marriage gives us, and we can swim through the toughest waves together.