On the Vastness of Marriage
It is our wedding anniversary. Twenty-two years. It seems like yesterday that I greeted him at the altar and met his eyes. And felt so much emotion. The same thing happened on the day we met. And again this morning. Overcome with love, honesty, awe. I turned away – too intense – the passion that I feel for him. Too busy, too embarrassed, too embedded in our daily habits to act on that emotion.
I could complain about him. After 22 years, there’s a lot to complain about. He doesn’t dance. He’s stubborn. He makes me look like an extrovert. He votes Republican (but not for Trump, have no fear!).
But then, he could complain about me. That would be a long list.
We could have given up. We’ve had our share of fights. Though I avoid conflict and he tends to be unyielding. That can be a bad combination and I have been known to stomp away with frustration and fury.
We could have sought other mates, someone who shared more common interests. Would he be happier with someone more outdoorsy and adventurous? Would I be happier with someone who was more interested in dance and theater?
Maybe. There are always what if’s. You can spend your life wondering if you should have taken the other path.
But we haven’t given up. We haven’t sought other mates. We choose each other. Still.
What makes us stay? Loyalty? Commitment? The mortgage? The children? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And friendship. And love. And respect. And unshakable passion. Not the I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off of the first phase of infatuation. No, it’s a slow and steady burn.
Pride plays a significant role. I am proud of my husband and proud of our marriage and proud of our family. I think he’s the most intelligent person I know and the most capable. When I am clouded and swayed with weighing the pros and cons of every (every!) decision, I appreciate his decisiveness. He’s funny, a good cook, reads more than I do, and likes to play. He has set good life priorities: Love a few good people, have a good time with them, and appreciate every day. It would be easy for me to get distracted by pursuing other people’s dreams and goals for me, but he is a beacon of clarity.
Appreciation plays a significant role. You can wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else. Or you can marvel at how good you have it. My husband is rock-solid in his love and pride for me. And for our children. I have it good.
Forgiveness plays a significant role. We all make mistakes. We all are a little weird. We all need our space. He says one reason he fell in love with me is that I laughed at his jokes and forgave him his bad jokes. Well, I’ve made much bigger mistakes and he has forgiven them. Shared reciprocity.
We joke that my husband embodies impatience. Smarter, faster, more determined that most, why wouldn’t he be impatient? He pulled himself out of a destructive youth and put himself through college, why wouldn’t he hold others to as high a standard? But he is gentle and patient and forgiving of the people he loves. Deeply compassionate, he will sit by us as we try and fail and try and succeed, cheering us on.
Marriage is a dance, with each taking turns and supporting the other. Marriage is a partnership where we inspire and encourage each other to be better. Marriage is vast. Filled with shared history, shared dreams, shared pain, shared joy. That it’s been twenty-two years stuns me.
With appreciation, forgiveness, patience, and love, we meet each other in the middle, at the altar of marriage, an intimate bond, a sacred bond, between you and me. Abiding love and deep passion ignite when our eyes meet. Still. After all these years.