Marriage is messy and complicated. It’s a daily uphill battle of compromise and self-sacrifice, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. When you get married amidst the oh so important decisions, like what flavor butter cream frosting will I choose to adorn my three-tiered wedding cake- should I get a strapless off the rack wedding gown and oh dear how will I ever create a seating chart that will appease my great Aunt Edie who’s been locked in a battle of wills with her estranged sister, I think few of us blushing brides truly comprehend the gravity of what staying in a marriage and keeping it solid will require.
Today we’ll celebrate my husband’s birthday–the 20th one we’ll be spending together-and to be honest in some ways I look at him and am still struck by the blue of his eyes and the graying of his temples, the way he reaches for my hand and soothes me. Of course there are other times that I look at him, and if I had a frying pan in my hand ( that is if I knew how to cook and therefore was familiar with what a frying pan actually looked and felt like) would like nothing more than to slam it over his head aggravated that he has once again been apathetic in regards to an issue that I need him to validate or my wish that just once he’d shed his stoic nature, flash me a big fat grin and engage in a few guffaws. It’s really interesting how the qualities you often find most appealing about your spouses to be; I loved his introspective nature when we first met I called him my strong, silent hunk of a man that after 18 years of marriage, those same qualities can be the most exasperating as his silence can at times be quite deafening.
Of course I also think back to our 20 years together; me shuffling through jobs like a roll of toilet paper; his steadfast commitment to me finding my niche- and being nothing but supportive. I think of the birth of our daughter how he slept in the hospital room all scrunched up in a chair beside me- holding my hand- as I labored through contractions. And the commitment to bringing another child into this world- weathering an insane amount of infertility treatments and my off-the charts mood swings .. without skipping a beat. He wanted this baby just as much as I did and he fought alongside me, when I miscarried the twin at 11 weeks, to make sure we hung onto our now- perfect , incredibly loving 12 year old son and assuaged my anxiety as I struggled to make sense of the loss.
But marriage is not just about the sweeping life altering events; if anything it’s shaped by the daily ins and outs of just showing up, being present and finding your co-parenting rhythm¦ packing lunches, ballet recitals, karate meets, remembering to put your clothes in the hamper as opposed to merely stepping out of them and leaving them in that exact spot, wiping noses, walking the dog in freezing temps while your wife snuggles under the warm covers, doing laundries at 1am after your daughter got sick and all the while squeezing each other’s hand and knowing that you’re committed to this little unit you’ve created for better or for worse.