Last May I paused for reflection. Reflecting is something I immensely enjoy once I’m doing it, but don’t do often enough because I tell myself too much is happening right this very moment to spend even a few moments thinking actively about the past. We live in fear of falling behind or missing out, and so we go, go, go until something happens to bring us to our knees, and it’s in that position we are finally inert long enough to notice where we’ve been. The peaks, the valleys, the plateaus. Some of it’s black and brittle, scorched by pain and charred with brokenness, but there, just beyond and up a little ways, is growth, healing. The past is no place to buy a home and raise a family, but it is a great place to drive by once in a while, especially during milestones.
When I consider some of the things that can be achieved over the course of a decade — graduating from the fourth grade, a decent bottle of Cabernet, hundreds of books read, the sheer number of toilet-paper squares and Q-tips — I’m more than a little awed by the fact that, in that time, Michael and I have never spent a night apart. Not a single one. But the substantially better reflection-worthy truth is that every single day for roughly three thousand, six hundred and fifty days, we have said Yes to each other.
Sometimes saying yes is easy, like for example when someone asks, “Would you like another piece of cake?” Yes, the answer is always yes.
And sometimes saying yes is incredibly difficult and makes your sphincter clench. “Can I borrow your (brand spanking new, never been opened) copy of Outlander?” . . . yes; but which child will you be offering as collateral?
A great many of us are blessed and so fortunate to live in this part of the world that is constantly providing for us. Our haves largely outnumber our have nots. But it gets tricky where Love is concerned. The world gently thumps us on the back the way a mother coaxes a burp from her engorged infant, encouraging attitudes such as Mine, Me First, I Need. We look around – through windows, in magazines, at each other – and see that in order to be happy, we must always be acquiring the newest look or thing. Change is glamorized. Options are healthy. But what I’m noticing, in myself most of all, is that we are being taught to despise boredom. To fear it, even. If we are bored, if we are anything less than fully entertained, then it must be time for something new. Cut your hair, get a tattoo, buy a new outfit, purchase a new phone, renovate your kitchen, move to another state, fall in love with someone other than the one you’re dating/married to. I am guilty of all of these except two.
Once you decide to make another human being your forever person, saying Yes to them becomes a little harder to do each day. Their needs – which used to be a delight and honor to fill – become a nuisance, a bother, a bore. We struggle and we strain, because right over there is something fresh and green and affordable. I wonder it feels like, tastes like?
We do not have a perfect score. Our marriage is blotted and blemished with many Nos. There have been and are still times when I choose my comfort over Michael’s need. At night, when he is craving intimacy, and I am craving my body pillow and a book. Michael has put his shyness and dislike of confrontation before the protection of my heart. There is no such thing as the perfect marriage. But a happy one looks like saying Yes to each other when the world offers up alternative arrangements.
So, my darling, Michael, I dedicate this post to you, to our ten years, and to a thousand upon thousand more yeses.