Yesterday, Hank and I toasted 8 years of little monkeys, messes and matrimony. Our love story actually started more than 14 years ago, when a cocky college sophomore in a red bandana flirted middle-school style with a recently graduated high school girl in cargo khakis over the course of 15 hands of euchre. He was snarky. I was living in my dreams of college days to come. It was nothing. Until it was. It really, really was something.
Our relationship has always been one saturated in that calm confidence that comes with absolute certainty. I used to tell Hank we were destined to find each other considering we once had the same dream within 24 hours of each other and received jury duty on the same day. The universe wanted us to build this beautiful life, and who are we to argue with the universe? Perfection isn’t really our style, but the imperfections suit us just fine. Do we fight? On occasion. Are we opposites? Um, hell yes. Did I strike the spouse jackpot? You bet your ass.
September 15, 2007, was a sunny, 70-someting-degree day. I remember sitting on a party bus with our bridal party and thinking, I have never been this full of joy. I love these people. I love this man. I love my life. And every year, on this day, we make it a priority to tap back into an, admittedly, milder degree of that euphoria. A lot of life has happened since that day. Wonderful, colorful twists and surprises and, of course, three extraordinary little ladies.
Our traditions are small. We go to dinner, stop by the church where we got hitched and catch up. I always ask what his favorite moment in our marriage was the year before. This past year, our trip to Vegas and getting Emma so we could go on our camping adventures were his happiest memories. I agreed. But now that this little blog is out in the world, I wanted to take it a step further. So, I went on …
Biggest change for us
“Jobs.” – Hank
“Didn’t we have a really fun meal one time? Or are all the meals running together for me? That one where all the kids ate, and they didn’t fuss and … oh, wait, that never happens.”
You feel most supported when I __
“Let me be a stay at home Dad.”
“Our terrible selfie on the way to Vegas. We were all snuggled. I still have the picture somewhere. We got to be adults for a day, you know, with your parents.”
“When we got drunk and rocked out to the Doobie Brothers on a weeknight. Jesus is just alright with me.”
Something you learned about me
“I don’t know what the right word for it is. You’re a … like, I don’t know … persistence … or determination. Cuz damn it, you’re gonna run that half marathon.”
Thing you want us to work on in the coming year
“Ew. I want us to have more fun. Too often it feels like we just coexist with all the crap that goes on.”
In 10 years, we’ll be __
[clasps face] “Raising teenagers!”
Not the best interview I’ve ever done, but the good Lord loves him for his honesty. I answered them, too, of course, and it’s funny how, when you ask the right questions, you discover this unspoken overlap between your treasured moments and hopes, and your spouse’s. What can I say, I think using your anniversary as an excuse to dig a little deeper into the caverns of your partner’s head space is healthy. It sparks conversation and gets some goals out there for the next 365 days.
After 8 years, I’ve learned that the best marriages are the ones where no one feels smaller or less important than the other person. I’ve learned that laughter only becomes more necessary and is a secret weapon for survival. That acknowledgement and validation are invaluable, and often the most neglected of commodities between people who love each other. I’ve learned the “don’ts”: Don’t tell each other’s secrets. Don’t discourage hobbies or dreams. Don’t make someone sacrifice pieces of their true self. Know when to give your partner space and when to grab on unprompted. And above all, never put conditions on your love. Give it freely and every day.
Until next year …