What they don’t say

This past weekend, we celebrated our anniversary. Sixteen years in, and I realized something.

When you’re first married, they tell you things like:
…Congratulations!
….Wishing you a lifetime of love!
…You guys are perfect for each other!

But, there’s a lot they don’t say.

They don’t tell you:
…that the fights you had while you were dating are only 1.3 on the Richter scale compared to the ones you have years and roadblocks later.

…that one insignificant morning, you’ll look over and realize that you’re married to a complete stranger.

…that the habits you once thought of as quirky are, in fact, annoying.

…that all the songs are about falling in love or breaking with love. But few are about the expansive middle of staying.

…that when you argue over thermostats and dishes and disciplining, you’re actually arguing over big things like expectations and values.

…that romance isn’t like Hollywood portrays it. And sometimes it is much, much better.

…that one night there will be in an elephant in the room and ignoring it will only make it grow bigger. Until it’s impossible to pretend-you-don’t-notice and you say something. Or suffocate.

…that you will watch friends and family step on the land mines of betrayal. You’ll be hit with the shrapnel and forever carry the scars.

…that you will find your role and your rhythm. It may take years to perfect, but once you do, the wheel will run smooth. The groove deep.

…that you’ll take turns being crazy, frantic, and worried. Like a seesaw, rarely will you both be perfectly balanced. And the momentum keeps you going.

…that you’ll have to talk through it. Even when you’re so, so tired. And the To Do list is too long. And the alarm clock rings too early. You have to talk.

…that marriage is a lot like cars. The sparkle and newness wears out right about the time it needs major maintenance. And while it’s tempting to trade it in, don’t. Because in a few more decades it becomes more valuable that before. It’s deemed classic. Vintage. And rare.

…that you will create a History. One that no one but the two of you will ever share. You’ll hold each other’s secrets and wishes.  Shame and desires.

…that you will fail. You’ll mess up. You’ll hurt each other with your thoughts and words and actions. And if you’re lucky, you’ll both stick around.

…that it’s worth it. Even when it’s less like Happily Ever After, and more like Compromising Ever After. The give-and-take is a delicate dance. But one that is captivating.

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