Today, on April Fool’s Day, I celebrate my 12th year of being married. No joke. I could not have imagined this life for myself – one of comfort and challenge and complexity. Up until my early thirties, marriage was nowhere in my imagination. I’d seen few successful partnerships in my family and many of the friends who sucked my finances dry by getting married in their early twenties, were on their second marriages. Marriage seemed like an expensive series of registries and rituals that involved ugly dresses. While I understood the “to do” list that got you into a marriage, I had no understanding of the purpose or intent once you arrived at your destination.
It turns out, for me, it’s much more powerful and understated than anything I could imagine. I am a better person with him than I was on my own. We’re not halves of a whole or codependent or anything that makes us less of an individual, but we complement each other and ever so gently push each other towards our better selves. We bicker on occasion about how to get things done – our unfinished kitchen has been an ongoing “discussion” for about five years. He is all about process and I am about results. We can work ourselves up into a heated argument about the best way to even talk about a project. He has to say “Let me finish my sentence” all too often and I have to hold back my impatient “well, get on with it then”.
There are days when I feel overwhelmed and he will walk in the door and I immediately feel like everything is okay. As I’ve grown more thoughtful about marriage, I’ve gotten better at saying that out loud. I’m much more pragmatic and less romantically-inclined these days, and so much that passes for romance sounds false and scripted. But when I can naturally and reflexively tell him that he just made my day better, I start to feel like I get it. Our attention spans are a little shorter these days. It’s easy to go to the next new shiny thing or person. Sometimes you have to stick around and dig in and get to the good stuff. I’ve gotten to a lot of the good stuff – seeing what a great father my husband is, growing and learning and being together as a family.
In order to marry in my husband’s faith, we had to meet with the Pastor for a counseling session. She told us a joke about a wife who complains to her husband “You never tell me you love me.” He says “I told you 50 years ago that I loved you and nothing’s changed.” I laughed, but am so grateful that everything does change. My proclamation of love from 12 years ago does not resemble the love I feel these days. It has become richer with shared memories and simple daily kindnesses. And I celebrate that with gratitude.