In our living room is a large wedding photo. It strategically is placed above the love seat that my husband normally occupies from about 9 to 10 every evening, sometimes while snoring. Often one or both of us can be seen staring at those youngsters in the framed picture. Oh, how 15 years sheds wisdom on you. I mean, the most glaringly obvious part of the picture is that we look like teenagers. I distinctly remember setting my wedding date just days before my 26th birthday, because seriously, 26 is old to be getting married!
I have some marriage wisdom now. We are the busiest we will ever be, I think. We crave alone time, time with each other, individual time with each of our children, family time, and really we just spend a hell of a lot of time at work and in the car. But there is something special about this time. Something I didn’t see in that smoky bar, something that I could have never known: He’s my team, and together we’re holding each other accountable, responsible, and sometimes we hold each other up. It’s us against the world! Or at least, it is us against the kids.
And in that wedding picture, I remember thinking that I had won: I got my dreamy blue-eyed man, and the hard part was over. We all know how ridiculous that thought actually is. Getting married is easy. Staying married is the hard part. Probably, I should let my parents know that I do know what they were talking about. But also on the flip side, I have some stuff, baggage that happens in 15 years. Baggage that only he understands.
There were lows so low we didn’t think we could make it another day. There were times when I visualized walking out—packing up my minivan and my kids and going home. I just didn’t think we could go another day. But I didn’t leave; I stayed to see what the next day brought. And there were times when we were so high we felt like we had figured this marriage thing out! Fighting? Eh, not us, we were all about communication, and discovery, and understanding, and we had it together!
Woven into the highs and lows were the times that defined us as a couple. Chronic illnesses we didn’t see coming, infertility (which is life changing and another story), financial highs and lows, babies and pets. All of those things dance around in my head as we head into year 16. Now, I look at that picture, and I want to tell my 25-year-old self that the wedding wasn’t the greatest thing ever; it was the start of something that only he and I understand.
There is nothing like having that person who knows you so well that you know he’s got your back. Whether it is a parenting decision, a decision to leave a party or plans for the weekend, you have the ally who understands what you need and when. And he knows that I have his back when I have to kick our friends out by 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve because that is when he is “done” with socializing. I feel like we finally get each other, and we like each other, which is a huge bonus.
I guess that even though those young people in our picture had no idea what was coming, they made the right first step. Part of me often thinks it is ridiculous that people get married so young. And by so young, I mean in their 20s. Part of me thinks that people get married that young because any older, they may never do it. And no matter how much education I thought I had, or how much I had traveled or read, nothing could have ever prepared me for the last 15 years. Perhaps I’m dramatic, but it’s a wild ride, and I’m a tad bit curious to see what the next 15 years brings!