10 Years. Ten of them – IN A ROW. It’s not a little mind boggling when I really stop to think about it. Other than exist, I’ve never done anything for 10 years straight. Well, all right; I’ve brushed my teeth and shaved my legs, but only to avoid the unfortunate consequences caused by not doing those things. Which are, of course, wookie legs and gingivitis.
On May 22nd of this year my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. He came home with a bouquet roses, a juicy fillet and asparagus, and a bottle of champagne I sucked on until the very last drop slithered down my gullet. He also got me a little something, which turned out to be a lottle something, because I am easily delighted and slightly manic and tend to get excited and make a VERY BIG deal about little things. Done well, they’re better than big things, I think.
He bought a dozen bags of Skittles, in a variety of flavors, then separated them – one by one – into mason jars, creating his own “special blends.”
I’m not going to lie. He knocked this one outta the friggin’ park. Not only are they pretty to look at, a confection of color, jars of art, but — SKITTLES. Yum.
We celebrated the day by staying home, drinking the whole bottle of champagne, and watching Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube. It was fabulous. We will do BIG celebrating this summer when we road-trip-it to San Francisco for TEN days! One for every year. That wasn’t intentional, but I rather like it; it’s fitting and feels right.
But to be honest, a decade ago, as I waited for the pastor come collect me and my entourage, Canon in D Minor wafting up the staircase, I wasn’t sure I would ever see ten years. Most brides are blushing and glowing and flicking scepters are their poor indentured bridesmaids doing everything from blotting spackled lips to waving thuribles to ward off evil spirits. I was calm, serene even. Frigid as my feet were, I knew I would say “I do.” It’s true I love a good spectacle every now and again, but my wedding, a 15k affair, wasn’t the time for one. I would marry my husband because I told him I would, and because he was a good man that would love me and take care of me. And I would do the same. For how long – that was the question. My heart was a mess and there were tears in my eyes; tears my guests mistook for tears of joy, as I glided down the staircase, smiling on cue, aware of the camera capturing what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. I dutifully took my place beside my fiancé. A broken girl in a stunning white dress, I took his hands.
“We are gathered here today . . .”
The next thing I knew, ten years had passed. I decided to write my husband, Michael, a letter.
As a girl, and even a young woman, my notion of eternal love looked like two people silhouetted in pinks and golds, perhaps astride a strapping unicorn, toasting each other with champagne flutes while Brian McKnight sang “Back at One.” Surely marriage would only be more of that.
*pop!* <——- The sound of Life popping my bubble.
In all honesty, and you know this, when I said “I do” ten years ago, a little skeptical voice inside my heart whispered “right now.” And for the next few years I kept you and our love inside drawstring pouches, on a scale, always weighing them against how I felt about our marriage. Was it living up to my expectations? Were you? The answer, of course, was no. And so we struggled. I yelled. You played mute. I lashed out. You tried to “be better.” Discontentment and mistrust blossomed like a bruise, neither one of us wanting to touch it, acknowledge it; so instead we covered it and I continued to watch the scale move, those disks drift further and further away from each other. I dreamed about what else might be out there, something greener, something new, something yet to be realized.
I wish more people admitted to having these thoughts. Because then they wouldn’t feel like they were awful human beings, but simply human. I also wish people talked about how unromantic and underwhelming marriage is. That it’s fun for about three and half minutes and then it’s just a lot of work and WTF’s and the unspoken agreement not to smother the other person with a pillow while they’re sleeping. How two people can go from communicating perfectly, to speaking different languages, to communicating without any words at all – just eyebrows and lips and exhales, and how these things say more than words ever could.
We prayed. We prayed so much God sent us a phone bill. But He answered every single one of those long-distance calls. He listened, while we cried, while we told Him about how unfair love is, to our pleas to PLEASE make it easier. It got harder. He showed us the cross. That bloody cross. Jesus showed us what Love does, that it accepts nothing less than complete surrender. He showed us that Love is unfailing, that it never gives up, and that it keeps on giving and giving and giving, and chooses to keep on giving and STAY – even as the world says “Hey, look over here! I’ve got something for you!”
So we gave. Gave each other permission to be imperfect, to disappoint and grieve and annoy the other. We chose to stay, and to Love each other, with His love. And when it was so hard, so exhausting, so seemingly unproductive, He gave us the strength to Love some more. And then . . . it got easier.
I no longer hear that voice whispering “right now.” That voice is dead. Our King destroyed it. It’s you and me, baby. Forever. There is nothing greener than you. You’re an emerald. I’m never taking you off or putting you in a drawer. I wear you around my heart, always. Happy 10 Years.
Marriage is the toughest thing I have ever done and continue to do. I am so proud of us.