This Ain’t No Hallmark Card It’s a Rant, But an Honest One
I’m no expert on love or marriage, I’m barely an expert at my own life, but over the years I think I’ve learned a few things worth sharing. I’ve had the pleasure, and sometimes the burden, of loving the same man for the last sixteen years. I was only nineteen when we started dating and naive enough to think all a marriage needed to survive was love. Sure was a fool back then, but I learned.
Here’s what I know so far. Foremost, it takes hard work. You have to show up, be there, listen. You invest a great deal of time, effort, and patience, a whole lot of patience into a marriage. And still there’s more. You have to make something of the time you spend together. It’s not enough to just be around living day to day in some force fed obligated routine. You have to sincerely care about where your relationship is going, not just when everything is new and exciting, but throughout its entire duration.
Be honest with yourself. You gotta’ want what you have. Your heart has to be in who you’re with, where you are, and what you’re doing or it’ll never work. The grass can’t be greener on the other side it has to be greener on yours. Cherish your own marriage with all of it’s imperfections and inconveniences.
In sixteen years you can learn a lot if you’re smart. Unfortunately, we weren’t that smart the first eight. We were young and foolish, and saw most of our best and worst times those years. It’s painful to admit that we did more than our fair share of the unthinkable to one another and believe me it’s even harder to accept the consequences.
We discovered the hard way that just as with other relationships, in a marriage, mistakes aren’t easily forgotten. Forgiven maybe, but hardly forgotten. Lucky for us the most valuable lesson we’ve learned thus far is that love is also unconditional. You fight the good fight to keep the past where it belongs and you learn to forgive the unforgivable just when you thought you couldn’t.
A wise and fellow blogger once told me that a marriage had “peaks and valleys that weren’t just measured in days, but at times measured in months. Marriage is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And the race to the finish line can be exhausting, but hopefully you both finish in the same place.”
Besides forgiveness this was probably the next hardest lesson we’ve had to learn, that marital problems don’t solve themselves overnight, or even a week. Sometimes it takes months. For us sometimes it took years, but at the end of the day we’ve learned we’d still rather be together than apart and knowing that has made all the difference.
After all these years I’d have to say the best compliment my husband has ever paid me is simply sticking around. For all the times we’ve been ready to give up, leave, or strangle the other, some moments cutting it closer than others, I sure am glad we don’t. Every night I go to sleep I know right where he is and every morning I wake up and know he’ll still be there, making me a cup of his special coffee, heavy on the cream with too much sugar. I don’t even like coffee, but you better believe I love his.
So here is my truth. In a world where so many couples marry or stay married for the wrong reasons; for the kids, to please your parents, because it seems easier than separating, even just to save face, I get to be married to someone for the right ones. Despite everything we’ve been through, I know that the grass is greener on my side. I want exactly what I have and if I had to do it over again I would.
Even if you stripped this marriage down, wiped away the kids, the house, the business, the debt, the savings and 401ks, if you brought it back down to just me and him, just us, I’m still certain I would re-cry every tear, relive every disappointment, and eat all of my pride over again just to be his girl. I love my husband because I don’t know how not to, nor would I want to try.
So honey, this one’s for you, a tribute to the love of my life a decade and a half strong. Know this, I don’t regret a thing, not one. All my roads lead to you, to this, to us.
For finding your way home and the cajones to make right what you almost threw away, for eleven years of sobriety and proving your love is stronger than any addiction, for taking me as I am and never trying to change me or fit me in a box just so you could feel bigger, for supporting my personal dreams and helping me breathe life into them, for sixteen years of the crappy and the good because if it weren’t for one we couldn’t fully appreciate the other, and for a love that’s given me so much more than it’s taken – I am thankful. I’m thankful for you.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy Anniversary, Baby.