Reality Week: Nine Years Today

Reality Week: Nine Years Today

My wife and I wanted to get married on Halloween, but while planning for the ceremony and reception, we realized that we would someday be forced to choose: celebrate our anniversary or take the kids trick-or-treating?

We chose the trick-or-treating.

So we settled our wedding day on Oct. 16, 2004. It was a day of joy spent with family and friends, of making vows before God and our assembled guests, of officially proclaiming to the world—or at least the state—that we were henceforth and forevermore a unified force with which to be reckoned. (I originally wrote “to be reckoned with,” but the urge to correct my own grammar was too strong to let it stand.)

The day was amazing: a masquerade ball come to life because a lot of people who truly love us worked to make our vision a reality.

But it was also merely the first day of our marriage. What we were really looking forward to was yet to come. Is still yet to come.

We didn’t pick a wedding day because we wanted a wedding. We picked a wedding day because we wanted a marriage, and there is a difference. Of course there’s a difference.

I make a habit of telling engaged couples that the wedding is great and all, but the marriage is what they should be really excited about. Because the wedding—as special as it may be—is done in less than 24 hours. You plan for months or (I don’t recommend this) years, and it’s over in less time than it takes to watch an entire season of 30 Rock on Netflix.

Your parents, siblings, cousins, and die-hard friends are picking up scattered trash as you drive off, you get a few days of honeymoon, and then reality sets in.

You need to be in it for the long haul.

Nine years ago, my wife and I took our first step together, trusting that we would then take another step, and another, and another, for as long as these bodies will allow. Into the Shallows.

To my wife, my best friend, my lover, my sparring partner, the mother of my children, and all the titles and nicknames you have and will have: Happy anniversary. I love you.

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Reality Week: The things we say

Reality Week: The things we say

As I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog, my wife and I went into marriage with—we believe—expectations that acknowledged romance while making room (quite a bit of room, actually) for challenges. But a relationship isn’t all highs and lows, swinging between candle-lit dinners out and fights ending in tears. In fact, the bulk of it is spent in between those poles, even if the extremes make for more indelible memories.

So we get conversations about me buying new jeans at Ross, to replace the ones with a large hole that clearly shows off my underwear, which I nevertheless wore to church yesterday (true story); questions about scheduling trips to the mechanic and dentist on the same day; and triumphant announcements regarding fruit-fly-breeding-ground discoveries.

Children certainly contribute to the proliferation of these middle-of-the-road talks. My wife wouldn’t have been searching for the source of the fruit flies if we hadn’t packed a peach into a snack bag for my oldest daughter, then gone about our lives for a full week assuming it had been eaten and the snack bag put away.

(Children certainly contribute to the proliferation of fruit flies, too.)

These everyday words are necessary. I now own a pair of jeans that doesn’t display my choice of boxers (they had “love” written all over them, literally) to the congregation. Logistics have been worked out so that my wife won’t develop a cavity and the van’s airbag light will (hopefully) stop flashing at us. And we won’t have so many fruit flies around anymore.

These are the words our days are made of.

But there’s something more there, despite these words’ mundanity—or maybe even because of it. Choosing to spend each day with someone—knowing that most of those days will be filled with dishes and debates on bedtime and minor negotiations and all the rest—is an act of love itself. Which can make even the typical extraordinary.

Well, “extraordinary” may be a bit strong, but you get what I’m saying. My wife’s “I figured out where the fruit flies are coming from” is just like Westley’s “As you wish.”

What’s the word around your home?