But, I did want to get this off my chest because I've had a couple people mention how "beautiful" our relationship looks to them. Ha. On the outside.
Let me tell you something about marriage, or at least our marriage, although I suspect this is a generally true situation for most things worth experiencing in life.
It's not beautiful. It's not amazing. It's not a breath of fresh air or some lovely daydream.
Marriage is about walking into a person's deepest, darkest nightmares. Freely. Yeah! You make a public agreement to do this! It's about choosing every day to stand by that person's side.
Love isn't fun like an umbrella drink on the beach. Love isn't fresh and pampering, as if you've found someone to fulfill your every whim or make your life easier.
It's hard, sweaty, dirty, even scary work.
It's about going into the darkest part of your heart, something few people want to do on their own. And then INVITING another person into that room! It's about someone holding your hair while you vomit into the toilet. And not a clean toilet. It's about staying up all night with a toddler who refuses to wear a diaper, but wants to keep peeing in the bed. It's about the one thousandth time you asked your spouse to please close the drawer so the baby doesn't get into it, and the next morning, the drawer is open.
Marriage takes the absolutely worst, dreariest, boring, annoying, ugly parts of you and puts them on crystal clear, hi-def directly in the other person's face! And for them, the same to you!
Every twisted scar, every childhood wound, every dirty secret, is in some horrible way, a gift to the other person. And marriage comes into play because you've seen it all. You've bared it all and you've seen it all. You've been through everything from the awkward to the uncomfortable. You've said goodbye to loved ones, you've heard her sob in the middle of the night over a pregnancy loss, you've seen him walk in the door with a gaunt look on his face and known something was wrong. And you keep walking side by side through it all.
People are quick to say they would die for their loved ones. They would take a bullet. They would say, "Choose me" to the bad guy, to save their partner or children. They would go on a secret mission to save the world. They would be a hero.
And what they forget is that real love is dying a little every day in obscure and minute ways. In ways that no one else sees. You don't get medals for quietly doing the laundry when you'd rather be working on a personal project. You don't get medals for going to work every day to support your family. People don't stand on the side of the road and cheer for you after you've wiped the ten thousandth snotty nose and tucked your child in for the millionth time. When you make the choice to calm your ego and respond to an irritable partner with respect, no one sees in your home. When you clasp his hand in the middle of the night and choose to be there for him after a hard day, no one cheers you on for losing more sleep.
Love rarely requires us to be heroes and heroines. Hardly anyone is in the movies. Instead, we're living out the real deal of life. It comes with a steady drip drip drip of expectations, and those expectations aren't pretty. It's about looking at our own imperfections. Admitting we have imperfections, and spending every day working on them, asking the people who deserve the most from us to forgive us yet again.
And somehow at the end of the day when ever fiber of your being has tried it's hardest to keep mothering and keep cleaning and keep breastfeeding and he walks in the door grumpy and tired, marriage is the choice to walk over to him, and squeeze his sweaty, stinky, dirty, tired, scarred body close to your sweaty, stinky, dirty, tired, scarred body, and whisper that you missed him. That you love him.
Because somehow, despite all of this parenting and partnering being the hardest thing in your life. Despite feeling the drip drip drip of every day tearing apart at the selfishness in your soul, despite opening every square inch of your heart and baring yourself in all your imperfections...this is the best thing you've ever done. It's soul-twisting, heart-wrenching, bone-wearying work raising a family and solidifying a marriage. It doesn't come with parades and medals or immediate success. You can't even be sure you will make it. But, you know deep down it's the most valuable thing in your life. So you keep going.
It's a lot of things. But, fun, fresh and airy, pretty? Those aren't the right words.
Happy Anniversary, Hon. Here's hoping for the gift of eight more years, then eighteen and onwards.