I’ve reached the conclusion recently that couples should spend their lives together first , and then get married. Later. After everything has happened and the whole grand opera is coming to an end.
Life is hard. It’s trial by fire. And sometimes marriage is trial by friendly fire. I think it’s important to see how someone handles stress and hurt and loss and joy and winning and losing before making that most weighty of commitments. I think one should experience how their partner deals with being stuck in traffic, with dog vomit on the new rug, when the job comes to an unscripted end, when a parent gets irreversibly sick, when life kicks them square in the balls and then, just when they’re catching their breath, steals their wallet. One should know how their partner accepts love, and how they offer it. How they handle misunderstandings with you, with their parents, with their boss, with a waiter. You should see them dealing with life’s triumphs and devastations before seeking to create one path from two. After being intimate with someone for 20 or 30 or 50 years, when the physical attraction has faded and after you’ve seen each other at your best and revealed yourselves at your worst ~ then and only then should you consider marriage. If I do is still on the table after all that ~ well then that seems like a well-informed decision.
I fell in love with you very quickly. I looked into your eyes one day just a few short weeks after we met and I knew. I just knew. This was it. You were it.
I was right. You were it. But now as I sit at the computer in the second bedroom of our second home home together, pulled out of bed by a sentence that demanded attention ~ as you lay in our bed, snoring, louder than you used to ~ as I look back at that Labor Day moment when I just knew and as I sit here now, in our dark house illuminated only by a computer monitor, I can’t help but wonder, what the fuck did I know?
I knew nothing. How could I have known, in such a short time? I couldn’t. Turns out that what I knew was just a hunch.
Not a bad hunch, but a hunch nonetheless.
When we took our first vows they had zero legal significance and bore the slightest whiff of us playing dress up. Since then we have taken advantage of every law that we’ve had access to, as they became available to us. Looking into each other’s eyes every time. Reconfirming. Recommitting. Reigniting.
There is a part of me (just a small part) that’s sad that the marriage debate appears to be nearly settled, at least for now, and that that part of our lives is over. It’s the same part of me that’s sad for couples who haven’t had to fight and phone bank ~ who haven’t listened to people tell them, emphatically and without the slightest reservation, that their marriage will never be a real marriage and that they could never condone it ~ who haven’t suffered the indignity of trying to rally total strangers to support their relationship. There is a (small) part of me that feels bad for people who don’t know what it is to fight for their love. Because every step, every call, every win, and every setback has been a reminder of what I’m fighting for. Of who I’m fighting for. And that fight has brought with it a greater understanding of love and of commitment.
I don’t have many secrets from you, but this might just be one: Every night, when I get in bed, I put my ankle across yours and I thank the house for sheltering us. I thank our families and our friends and our dogs for infusing our lives with love. I thank our mattress for supporting us, literally; for bearing our weight every night. And finally, after all my thanks are thunk, with our ankles crossed, I thank the bizarre, off-handed chance that we should ever have met. I thank you. I thank you for you.
I have loved marrying you repeatedly. Each time it meant more, because each time I knew life more, I knew you more. Fifteen years later ~ seventeen since I first looked into your eyes and knew ~ I’m just starting to know.
Happy 15th anniversary, honey. I love you with everything I know. I look forward to loving you with everything I’ll ever know.