October 3, 2013
Dear Lover (said in the very best SNL “hot tub lovers” accent),
Ten years ago today we walked down that aisle, ready for commitment and companionship, intimacy and trust. We held hands and kissed and said, “I DO.” We believed that God had brought us together – that wild, rebellious, adventurous guy and that independent, sweet, obedient girl – who defied the culture around us and dated and waited well through our late twenties. We felt mature. We felt ready. We were happy. We were about to take a leap into marriage bliss, into our future, into forever, together. That day, our day, was unique and classy and beautiful. Nothing extravagant, just simple and meaningful. Just perfectly us.
And here we are, a decade later, still together – still skipping and fumbling and wandering and wondering, still learning to cherish and honor, still learning to fall…in love. We haven’t “arrived.” We’re still traveling. I’m so, so grateful for how our love story keeps moving and shifting and becoming…truer, deeper, wider.
Here’s what I know today, that I didn’t know 3,650 days ago:
I know a lot more about what comes with commitment. It’s in the “staying” – when hot, angry words fly around, when wrong and reactive responses come spewing out, when a cold shoulder gets shoved in a face, when the heart shuts off and takes a hike, when money and property and home-owning don’t go as planned, when romance and adventure fizzle and flop, when negative family patterns and personalities flare up, when ideas and ideals get squashed, when children call out the worst in you. These are the war zones, where the battles take place, when we want to quit. They’re brutal. They’re ugly. We’ve stepped on some killer land mines. Yet, we’re here. We both keep showing up. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes God only knows how we’ve made it back to one other. But we did. We’ve stayed.
I know a lot more about what comes with companionship. It’s in the “playing” – together, and with others. Something really good happens when we take the time to be alone, to be adults, to be friends. We’ve always talked and listened and processed – in the car, on the phone, in restaurants, in the living room, on vacations. We talk about what matters and what doesn’t matter. We keep making each other laugh…hard. We explore and discover, we re-visit and reminisce. Your “bads” are my “goods.” My “goods” are your “bads.” You introduce me to your world of boats and beer and wide open country – of peace. I introduce you to my world of mindfulness and moscato and big cities – of adventure. And then we invite others into our world – people who laugh with us (maybe at us) and play with us and who feel comfortable with us. We’re totally “people” people who love to laugh and eat and play. These have remained essentials in our marriage.
I know a lot more about what comes with intimacy. It’s in the “sharing” – openly, honestly, graciously. We were both intellectually reflective people back in the beginning, but neither of us knew much about what it really meant to connect, emotionally. Neither of us had many positive, lasting experiences being vulnerable, with ourselves, with others. This didn’t set us up well. But I’ve been learning…what it means to put your whole self on the table and allow it to be heard, received, pushed back on, embraced. I’m learning what it means to get mad and sad and scared, what it means to soar. And then, what to do with all of that, how to “be” with all of that, how to respond to all of that. I’m learning to see more of what’s inside me. I’m learning to see more of what’s inside you. Sometimes I might not like what I see, but I’m wanting, I’m choosing, to see the remarkable and the perfectly OK parts…in both of us – with openness, with honesty, with grace.
I know a lot more about what comes with trust. It’s in the “believing” – in one another’s goodness. It’s easy to think someone’s trustworthy when the endorphins rage and the romance stays. But, now we know how easily the endorphins fade and the romance can drift away. I (kind of) thought I trusted people, especially you, wholeheartedly. Winds up I didn’t. Now I know, I trusted mostly myself. Winds up that doesn’t work, at least in marriage. Somewhere I learned that someone is trustworthy only if they never hurt you. Which means, somewhere I learned that people aren’t human. But, they are. You are. I am. We’re learning what it means to repair the ruptures, start over, re-do – with respect, with acceptance, with forgiveness. We’re learning how to be human, together. We’re learning this new of way of believing…in one another.
So I guess that over the past ten years, I’ve been learning what you sign up for when you say, “I DO.” It’s not about getting hitched and wearing some bling and building a house and growing onions and cranking out darling Korean/Norwegian babies. It’s not about the picture of the perfectly posed wedding couple, smiling, admiring one another. It’s about what’s IN them – in us – and how God wants to use what’s happened BEHIND each of us to create something redemptive THROUGH us, together, FORWARDS. It’s about building and breaking and re-building. It’s about staying and playing and sharing and believing. It’s about love – learning what it means and feels like and looks like from above. And then, offering that kind of love in ways that free you, free me, so that we can create something sacred and true, together, that gives an even a fuller picture of LOVE himself…to one another, to the world.
I’m quite certain, that’s what we signed up for that day. Let’s keep leaning and living into THAT love story!
I’m in this, with you.
Happy I DO x 10, Baby!
I love you…still…always.
With much love and gratitude for where we are, right now…
PS – I still love that I married someone with big eyes for my babies!