Yesterday we celebrated six years of marriage. Six isn’t the milestone of five, and doesn’t have the itchiness of seven. Six years feels like just where we are: walking through life, tagging out on 1am calls for milk, all day texting photos and reminders and hearts, every conversation both in short-hand and part of a bigger discussion.
The last year was hard on our marriage. The movie years always are. We were dating when The Gorilla was shooting his second movie and the fact that our relationship made it through that year is no small miracle. We both probably should have walked away back then, but thank God for clinging to love.
This time might have been the hardest, though, weeks and weeks apart complicated by two tiny children and a pressure in our chests. Whoever said that absence makes the heart grow fonder surely wasn’t talking about marriage. Absence makes the heart grow resentment and then you have to claw your way back to fonder.
If I could say anything about the fifth year of marriage, it would be that we really saw one another. We had a naked standoff of This Is What You Signed Up For. Those words should be included on the marriage certificate, don’t you think? But whether it’s said in anger or joy, the words are written in sand. Everything changes and everything stays the same and commitment means something new every day.
My husband has the highest sense of integrity. He pretends that I’m the one with the hard and fast rules about life, but the thing that guides his every decision runs deeper than mine. Steadier. We’re not so different as we appear on the outside. The labels we clung to in the beginning have melded. Age has eroded some of that staunch passion, sharing a bed with the opposition has influenced us each.
On our anniversary, we kissed over coffee cups and ruffled our son's hair and complimented our daughter’s choice of princess dress. The Gorilla made chocolate chip pancakes because they’re my favorite. We watched football and took turns pushing the swing and I didn’t take off my sweatpants until it was time to get ready for dinner.
We high-fived the little hands that are products of our union and drove to our favorite restaurant to order the same sequence of courses we’ve been eating for nearly a decade. We talked about our best marriage memories and they came easily to our minds, most of them the same.
The gift of our marriage, the thing that gets us through years like the one past, is not a deep and abiding love or a fierce belief in those sacred vows, though both of those things are true. Our marriage’s secret is a rare compatibility. We have the same vision for how our world should feel, and we strive to create that. We live alongside one another as if we were born to do so, agreeing on parenting styles and paint colors with barely a word. I forget what it feels like not to have such a partner, ignore until I can’t that our relationship is the most natural thing I’ve known.
We will swallow the year behind us, tuck it in to pull from and remember, but put it away so it’s not a constant reminder. It won’t be the last hard leg of this marathon, we’re still at the beginning. Arriving home last night, full and lazy, joking about the early hour, debating what to watch, bidding goodbye to the babysitter, my husband of six years kicked off his neon shoes and I kept the smile to myself. He is just exactly who I chose.