While any variation (ie: sexual preference) of the ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl’ (going old school ’cause I’m married to a man) is our ingrained love story norm – it is entertainment only.
Culturally, we’ve made finding and keeping love instantaneous, easy and permanent without adequate preparation for the down right deep and dirty work that goes along with years of commitment, dedication and love. And allow me to clarify: I’m not always winning.
Marriage is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Not because he’s a miserable, jealous fiend and we fight tooth and nail, because we don’t. In fact, he has been tender and patient and as dedicated to our success as I have been. But, there have been hard times nonetheless.
Marriage is hard because it has a way of bringing up unresolved family business and shines a spotlight right in the eyes of our differences in parenting and money spending habits and deeply established (lack of) communication skills.
Marriage will eventually point out every fundamental and philosophical belief that is not shared. It requires couples to walk through fire occasionally – job loss, money stress, health issues and grief – together. Marriage can be hard when the passion of youth and new love chemistry morphs slowly into middle age comfort and day to day routine.
Marriage has required me to tame my dragons and watch my words.
It has forced me to own my mistakes and make things right.
It needs me to be ever conscientious of another’s hopes, dreams and feelings.
It asks me to allow, accept and to simply be.
It asks that I choose my husband, again and again, every day.
Marriage is also the most joyful and soul-satisfying thing I’ve ever done.
It’s in the warmth of his chest again mine and the prickle of his whiskers against the back of my neck. It is the sweet smell of his breath and the velvet black depth in his eyes. It’s the way he pours over me with tenderness and absolute attention. I can feel love flowing from his hands when he touches me.
It is the way we fit together like a hand in glove. It’s the weight of his body on top of mine, and the way we snuggle closer together to savour the chill of murky mornings blowing through the sheer purple curtains next to our bed. It’s me perched on the edge of the tub to warm up my feet in his scorching bath water. It’s me making a pot of coffee every morning, only for him to bring me every first brewed cup.
It’s discovering that he makes his decisions based on what I really want. And how he lingers in the kitchen while I cut and chop and stir and sauté. It’s never tiring of the compliments, the endless outpouring of ‘my beautiful wife’ and ‘I’m so proud of you’ and ‘look how hard you’re working’. It’s scouring the menu for his favourite dish only to order whatever I’m having when the waitress finally comes.
We’re a team, picking up after one another: leaves, towels, wineglasses.
Driving kids. Paying bills. Preparing meals. Folding clothes. Half and half. Almost always.
It’s the way he holds my secrets like a vault, and how protective he is of the heart on my sleeve. It’s how we’ve trudged through faults and flaws and miscommunication to reach common ground, acceptance and forgiveness. It’s staring across a candlelit table over steak and red wine, eyes brimming with tears while we talk of how proud we are of our children.
It is the way he rocks stability and fatherhood and being a devoted husband. It’s in the laughter, and the silence. It’s in the routine of endless workweeks and it is floating among sparking waves on holidays.
Sometimes I’m surprised by the gray in his hair.
And when roused from slumber in the middle of the night,
I’m annoyed at the way he snores.
(And his old man slippers under the edge of the bed.)
Yet, he offers me grace for sagging parts and dry feet that snag the sheets
and the layers of winter gear I wear to bed on the nights I just can’t seem to warm up
and kindly looked the other way when peri-menopause moved in and opened a big fucking store in Kim-town.
Yes, there are days I suck at this relationship. I’m impatient, judgmental, negative, sour. I am a work in progress, falling on my knees to realize the ways I miss the mark.
But, he is human, too, and so we fail together.
And pull each other back up.
And hurt each other without intention.
And apologize with whole heart and renewed commitment to make it better and try again.
Marriage is fucking hard. But, lucky for me, the moments I’ve felt futile and hopeless and almost called it quits are far outnumbered by the moments I’ve been seen and heard and held in the palm of his hand.
Grateful is too small a word.