Mike and I, sitting for our engagement pictures at Miami University fourteen years ago. I think we were about twelve years old. Also, how is it fair that I have the same hairstyle today, but not the same body? I want my money back. I would like to return my extra chin and crow's feet for my rock-hard abs and perky boobs. Mike, however, looks exactly the same. Also not fair.
Thirteen years ago today I walked down the aisle and became Mrs. Six, just like the number. With each year that passes, the anniversary celebration becomes a little more subdued. We figured out long ago that cards aren't our thing. We typically don't exchange fancy gifts, or any gifts at all. Tonight we'll sit down as a family and eat a home-cooked meal together. The kids will help make brownies and we'll have them warm with ice cream. Next weekend my parents will take the kids so we can enjoy a nice meal out together.
After the kids are in bed, I'll put in our song and we'll slow dance in the living room in our yoga pants and boxers, trying not to trip on the toys scattered about the floor. Our song would be Alan Jackson's Remember When.
Remember when I was young and so were you
And time stood still and love was all we knew
Remember when we vowed the vows
And walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt
Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart
And broke each other's hearts
Remember when the sound of little feet
Was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we'd never give it up
Remember when thirty seemed so old
Now lookn' back it's just a steppin' stone
To where we are,
Where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
I imagine if you were a newlywed yourself, you'd think this was tragic. No romantic getaway? No sparkly gift? And what is up with that depressing song? Who embraces a song that talks about hurt, broken hearts and lost trust?
Thirteen years ago I would have thought the same thing. Like parenting, I think you have the "best" marriage advice before you actually get married. Like parenting, I think you can only imagine the Hallmark moments of a marriage. With kids you see birthdays, first steps, Disney World, recitals. You don't see the sleepless nights, the vomit, the tantrums over the wrong colored socks. With marriage you see the candlelit dinners, vacations on the beach, the perfect home with the picket fence. You don't see the credit card bills, the pile of dishes in the sink, the tantrums over who is pulling their weight or who is insensitive.
The thing is, like parenting, you can't have the warm fuzzy stuff without the ugly part. You can't skip the cleaning up the puke, the putting on of clean, dry jammies, the rubbing of the warm forehead, and expect to have the love and trust you earn by caring for someone who is sick and helpless. You can't skip the knock-down, drag-outs about why your marriage is sucking so bad right now, the fights that gradually lose their bite and turn into real, honest conversations about how you get past the ugliness that each of you brings into a relationship. You can't just skip that part and expect to have the quiet moment of holding hands, lying your head on a supportive shoulder, and knowing they love you no matter what.
That's why I love the song, why I love what our anniversaries have come to be. It's the reality of living with the same person, day in and day out, for thirteen years.
We are not so young anymore. We are still so in love. God willing, we'll make it another thirteen years. And another thirteen years after that. And so on. There will be more pain, I'm sure of it, but there will be more lovely moments as well. I would do it all again to get where we are today.
Much to love to my wonderful husband, my best friend. Happy Anniversary.