Photo credit: Julie Setmeyer
Tomorrow Mike and I will celebrate seventeen years of marriage. We’ve officially hit that mark where we’ve been together longer than we’ve been apart. That’s crazy! And also: we are getting old.
I feel like every year I reflect on marriage and write some riff on how marriage is hard, how Mike and I have to work at it to make it good. Just like parenting, some years and phases are more difficult than others. This, however, was not one of those years. Year number sixteen was good, friends.
I want to bottle this year and repeat it every year forward. It feels as if we moved into this new home together and unpacked more than just boxes. We unpacked years of judgement, comparison, and doubt and set them to the curb with the rest of the worldly possessions that didn’t seem to fit in this new house. And in the place where those things lived there was suddenly room for good and beautiful things.
I wish I could say “Do this one thing and watch the sparks fly all over again!” But marriage seems to be like an intricate puzzle, and who knows which piece will be the one your own marriage is missing to make everything fit just so. But if I had to point to one thing that was different for me, that seemed to shift the pieces into place, it would be this:
Look at your spouse the way others see them.
It is so very tempting and easy to view them through the lens of the eternally disappointed roommate. You look at your spouse and can only see the things that drive you mad: the dirty clothes on the floor, the honey-do list that doesn’t get done, the thermostat you can’t agree on, the pet peeves and petty disagreements.
I dare you, the next time you are out socially with your spouse, to step away and watch them in the presence of others. Listen to how the people he or she works with talks about them. See your spouse through your children’s eyes.
I made a conscious effort to do this over the last year. I saw a man who is the life of a party. If it’s fun, he’ll make it epic (at least until 10 p.m). If it’s dull, he’s your lifesaver. I saw a man who makes people smile and laugh. I saw a man who gets up at the crack of dawn five days a week and goes to work at a job that is both physically and mentally demanding. I saw a man who works outside on the hottest and coldest of days and never complains. I saw peers and clients praise him for his problem-solving skills, for going above and beyond what was expected. I saw a man whose kids think he’s the coolest dad they know. A dad who will snuggle, read, play kickball, take them to concerts, teach them, and above all, love them fully and without restraint. I saw a man who wants nothing more than to provide a good life for his family, to make his wife and kids happy (okay, so maybe the kids would be happier with less kissing).
Photo credit: Julie Setmeyer
I don’t know about Mike, but I feel like I fell in love all over again this year. I opened my eyes and saw the guy I want to be married to for the rest of my life.
Happy Anniversary, Mr. Six. I am so very happy to be your wife.