March 19, 2014 - Our 20th Anniversary.
As our 20th anniversary approached, I started thinking about marriage. The first thing I realized was that there is still so much that I just don’t know… I look forward to being married for 40 or 50 years and looking back at this milestone with some amusement. But still, it is a milestone, and one that I feel deserves to be acknowledged in my favorite way – with words.
I think the thing that I love most about being married is that I have been able to build, with my favorite person in the whole world, something that is completely ours – and completely unique. Since no two people in the world are alike, it stands to reason that combining two individuals would produce a marriage that is unlike any other marriage. I love the fact that John and I are completely different. We are so dissimilar, in fact, that (other than our spiritual beliefs) food is about the only thing that we have in common. But we happily go our separate ways and do our separate things. It is one of my greatest joys that John loves me enough to give me the total freedom to be myself. He never forces me into a box of his choosing, but simply steps back and lets me be free. This is such an amazing gift!
Oddly enough, it is not in the enjoyable things of life that we come together best, but in the work. We work together naturally and seamlessly as a team. I don’t know how or why. We just do. We have packed, unpacked, built things, rearranged things, and painted things more times than I can count, and we usually have a blast doing it (or at the very least, don’t want to kill each other by the time it is over). I will admit that the first time we painted a room together was a little bumpy, but we learned to agree to disagree on the fundamentals (such as what I still know for a fact is the purpose of a drop cloth – my poor meticulous husband…). Another mysterious part of this team work mentality is that we don’t need many words to accomplish the task at hand. We each do what we do best, and that is that. The funny thing is that we recently had to sort of laugh and realize that this is nothing that we can point to as a wonderful thing that WE do. It feels like, to us, that God knew our lives would be hard enough, and He just gave us this peaceful, harmonious thing as a gift.
The most beautiful thing about our marriage can be summed up by this one statement: the little things matter the most. Sure, there have been some big things over the years… the grand gestures and the momentous events – both good and bad – but honestly, the magic has happened in the thousands of tiny kindnesses. I think that my husband has beautiful hands. They were there for the big moments. They took my hands when we promised for better or for worse, and again years later when the labor pains took my breath away. They were the first human hands to ever touch either of our children. They gently diapered and clothed our tiny baby boy for the first time, and they held our daughter’s hands when she went through torturous treatments, and later, her lifeless body in the back of our car on the long night journey to the funeral home. There is no question that the big things matter, but I think that trust is built and won more in the little moments... The hundreds of unsteady toddler steps and active childhood endeavors that were supported by Daddy’s hands. The tough calluses from countless, repetitive hours of hard work providing for our family. The coffee that magically appears every morning, and often presented in my favorite cup. The hundreds of tasks, both large and small, that make my life easier. The never ending offerings of the best bite, and often the last bite, from his plate because he knows how much I enjoy food. The fact that those beautiful hands only ever touch me with gentleness.
THIS is my marriage. This is my life. What would I go back and tell that 21 year old girl? Nothing different than what she did: run straight into his arms and don't ever let go.