As of this Saturday, Daryl and I will have been married for eleven years. 132 months. 4015 days. 96,360 minutes. (Anyone else getting “Seasons of Love” stuck in their heads right about now?)
It’s been an incredible ride. I could write out all the clichés that are somehow true (I love him more today than I did when he proposed, marriage is hard work but so worth it, blah, blah, blah…), but I’ll save that for him when we celebrate, as we tend to do, by eating a box of See’s candy and going to bed early. Cuz: children.
Yet there are some things I’ve learned in these eleven years that perhaps are a bit more unexpected. In honor of the anniversary, and for those of you in our married boat or considering marriage yourself, here are eleven things no one ever told me about marriage.
1. Sometimes you kind of hate each other
I love my husband. I’d throw my body in front of a bus to save him. But sometimes? Sometimes I kind of hate him, too.
It’s really true that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy. I never feel apathetic toward him. I love him fiercely, and sometimes he drives me totally bananas. The feelings are deep because he is. Because we are. Because marriage is.
And I swear, if he leaves his toothbrush on the side of the sink and not in the toothbrush holder one more time…
2. It’s the little gestures that mean the most
It’s not that big of a deal that he changed Wilson’s diaper this morning. It’s a huge, tremendous, unbelievable deal that he’s changed thousands of Wilson’s diapers over little W’s 1.9 years of life. Far more than I have, because he always volunteers.
One changed diaper is a small thing. Thousands are a very big thing indeed.
As Douglas McKelvey puts it in Every Moment Holy, “this small act might sit upstream from the changing of a heart.”
3. Trust is everything
We don’t have secrets in our house unless they’re directly related to a good surprise (birthday gift, Christmas party, graduation celebration, etc.). We share a bank account. We know each other’s passwords.
Our lives are blended in every area, not because we don’t trust one another but because we do.
4. Keeping your body and mind strong isn’t just for you
When Daryl had knee surgery, our whole family suffered. When I sprained my ankle (again), it took a toll on each of us. While I wanted to be fit and strong in college to look good in my summer shorts, now staying strong is so I can help shoulder the load of the family, carry the toddler, and tidy the house when he has to work late.
The same is true for him.
5. Talking it out is almost always the right thing to do
Our vocations center on words. I preach, I meet with congregants, I participate in meetings, I write, I teach writing. The same is true for him. Words, words, words. Sometimes, by the time we get home for the night, we are out of words.
Yet Daryl and I each have times when we need to talk things out. Sometimes we go all Over the Rhine and put a bottle of wine in the center of the table and talk until we are finished. (This doesn’t happen often; I kind of hate most wine.)
On nights I’m too exhausted to listen, I do my best to press through. On nights he’s absolutely spent, he gives me everything he’s got.
When in doubt, talk it out.
6. Those quirky things that were cute while you were dating will eventually drive you up the wall
I used to find it adorable that he would mull over everything he was about to say before he said it. Used to.
He used to think it was cute that I was addicted to Skittles. Now our dental bills get paid from a shared bank account.
7. With each passing year you appreciate each other more
As the years go on and the memories pile up, I love that we can laugh about things that happened in 2001, that we have a shared stash of inside jokes, that we often know what the other one needs before we even ask.
When we married eleven years ago he didn’t know how much coffee I would need. I didn’t realize what a slog a dissertation would be. Neither of us knew the insanity that it would be to take two small children on an airplane across the country and come down with the stomach flu.
But now? We’ve weathered a heckuva lot, and most days we can still smile because we’ve done it together.
8. If and when babies arrive, having a teammate is more important than ever
Ok, maybe someone told me this. BUT IT IS SO TRUE IT DESERVES REPEATING.
The truism that marriage isn’t a 50/50 partnership, it’s a 100/100 one is never more accurate than when babies show up. If you’re not both all-in, all the time, someone’s going to burn out on midnight feedings and 1am diaper blowouts and 2am crying jags and 3am spit-up fountains and 4am rock-back-to-sleep festivities.
I don’t know how single parents do it.
9. Sometimes, even after a lot of years together, you’ll still be overwhelmed with the realization that they are yours and you are theirs
Every once in awhile I still watch him while he sleeps. That guy I had a crush on back in Greek 101? Yeah, he thinks I’m cute, too.
There is nothing like watching the guy you had a crush on back in college carry your kids home from the park.
10. You learn to forgive faster
We talk most things through, but we forgive faster, too. We’ve learned what needs a big sit-down and what can pass by with a “I messed up. I’m sorry,” a hug, and a better tomorrow.
11. If you’re all in on Jesus, the ride never fails to be an exciting one
In these past eleven years we’ve had knock down, drag out fights with God. We’ve sung praise with our hands held high. We’ve prayed on our knees so often both our knees and our carpets show the wear.
We’ve moved across the country several times (Chicago to New Jersey, New Jersey to Nashville, Nashville to Wisconsin, Wisconsin to California… enough that someone once asked us if we were in the witness protection program…). We’ve both been shocked to find ourselves called into ministry and then into the pastorate.
We’ve felt hopeless, euphoric, lost, and found.
Through it all there has been one constant. Jesus.
The ride’s been one we couldn’t have dreamed up, wouldn’t have planned, and can’t imagine missing out on.
What anniversary are you celebrating? What have you learned in the journey?