Seven years ago today we stood under a drippy Savannah tree, encircled by our siblings, parents, and dearest friends, and vowed the rest of our lives to one another. Church bells rang as we were pronounced one, and a southern gospel choir broke into song when we clenched hands and returned up the grassy aisle.
It took The Gorilla half a lifetime to get married. Our friendship then relationship was a long one. I do not recommend this to anyone - anyone - but almost all of the rocks in our road fell away when we got engaged. When I stopped lashing insecurity, and he stopped fearing forever.
I braced for the first year of our marriage to be difficult, but it wasn’t. We tried to get pregnant and couldn’t. We remodeled the kitchen instead.
He made movies, and I finally did have that baby. Then another baby, another movie, another kitchen remodel.
This man is just exactly who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but this marriage has been a surprise. More freedom than I thought existed in such a commitment and also chains I didn’t anticipate. The ebb and flow of pure emotion and logistics, mundane daily tasks and extreme highs, you never think those cliches will apply to you. Then you’re 35 and loading the dishwasher in birkenstocks while eating leftover chicken with your hands, and you realize your life is just as normal and extraordinary as everyone else’s.
About a year ago, I sat in a circle of friends and talked about marriage. The Gorilla and I were at the end of a long and difficult year of movie-making, family illness, depression, and - making all the rest of those things worse - deep exhaustion. My friends in the circle listened to my wobbly voice describe how I’d become the wife who groaned when my husband had to work late again. Instead of being frustrated when he took on a new project, I should have been the first person cheering. I wasn’t that woman, yet.
Speaking honestly about it with other women helped. Writing about my own issues helped, too. His work schedule changed and in the late winter our son started sleeping through the night. Hallelujah, Praise Be, by the spring it was as if we were different people. It was all the aches and pains before the growth spurt, and suddenly our marriage needed new clothes.
When our union was six and a half years old, my husband lost his brother. Our family was so devastated by this loss, which came all at once, I do not believe we’ll ever fully recover. And in both the fog and clarity of grief, my husband and I chose one another. We took our little family to the lake to huddle together, and it was there waking up to the water that I understood the sickness and health part of our vows was all encompassing.
A good marriage is so constant. If you’re not used to the equilibrium, it’s very hard to trust. I often put too much stock in feeling connected and overlook the sheer partnership. I’m proud of our compatibility but take for granted our companionship. I brag that we’re equals in our parenting, but gloss over that our belief in one another makes this so.
In the weekday morning routine, The Gorilla and I have wordlessly adopted roles. He’s up early with the earliest kid, making eggs and packing lunches. I’m about a half hour behind him, with the later rising child, and I finish breakfast, find shoes, and brush hair. He takes them to school and calls to check in mid-morning. I pickup from school, and call to check in mid-afternoon. We joke - like all parents in this glorious middle - about how different our weekends are now and can you get over that we have two kids and wrinkles?
This is exactly what that September wedding bore. And it is good.
PS - Before it was good, I stopped talking to my husband.
photo by Greer Inez