A classic, beautiful Elephant article that I read regularly: Marry a Man who Knows you are Real and something new: How She Rediscovered Love with Coffee & Coronavirus.
This week I celebrated my first wedding anniversary!
I am still overwhelmed with gratitude (and disbelief).
The ironic part about this is, for the greater part of my life I dated (I had no issue with serious relationships), but getting married was not on the menu.
I cared more about independence, the beach, sunshine, my friends, and traveling. I also didn’t think the institution of marriage felt genuine; it felt like a show (more like a circus where monkeys show off their money).
And ironically, my husband and I shared the same beliefs in this regard. So kids, babies, and the “white-picket-fence life,” as we call it, was a no-go.
And then this funny thing happened to us. Our love grew; it grew big in a weirdly perfect, non-traditional way—a way that I couldn’t have concocted even if I had hidden a magic wand up my butt (or sleeve).
Now, when I say I didn’t care about getting married, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a Pinterest full of gowns, flowers, and wedding locations. The idea of the whole thing was exciting, but it always felt like a farce and more of a hollow fairytale.
I would always joke and say, “I can wear a white dress and get hammered without signing my life away to someone.”
Let me tell you: this man truly flipped my world upside down. Suddenly, a marriage didn’t seem like a life in shackles; it was an adventure with a true partner.
This is a shameless celebration of my hubby (and the 8 qualities that changed my opinion on marriage):
1. He doesn’t make me feel guilty when I fall short.
I am lucky to have my husband by my side. There are times when I think I have mostly rid myself of the demons and wounds, but they still come out.
I still become triggered if something reminds me of the past. In those moments, I am reactive; I am rude; I f*cking suck.
I turn into a classic wounded animal—I curl up into an emotional corner and bite the hands of the man who loves me.
And do you know what he does? He doesn’t yell. He talks to me. It’s like he’s a f*cking animal whisperer, and I’m a stubborn goat. But I love that about him—he’s so much better than I am in this way.
2. He values me.
He doesn’t try to change me. He doesn’t want me to style my hair this way or that. He doesn’t care if I never shave my legs or only wash my hair once a week (this is real-life). He doesn’t try to soften my imperfect, jagged edges; he sees my darkness, but makes me feel like I am full of light.
3. He isn’t sketchy.
Our phones are open and out, and there’s nothing to hide. It’s really that simple.
4. Our conversations and struggles are private.
He doesn’t run to his buddies every time he’s annoyed (and vice-versa). We talk it out, together, once we are emotionally capable.
And because we don’t air out our dirty laundry like it’s high school, if we ever absolutely had to get advice or guidance, the feedback would be unbiased. It wouldn’t be tainted from previous emotional bashings, because, let’s be honest, you know your friends will always have your back if you go crying to them.
When you handle things this way, no one is the bad guy; it’s you and your partner versus the problem, not you against each other.
5. He supports me in my work.
I always have had a general idea of where I want to be, but I wasted so much damn time trying to pursue something that would make other people happy. This man has pushed me, since day one, to do what sets me on fire.
6. He knows I don’t need someone to take care of me, but he is always there for me.
This could be just a “me thing,” but I have grown to really appreciate my independence. I probably lean more toward the side of “I’ll struggle and drown before I ask for help,” and he has found some magical way of letting me know he will always be there, and also honoring my desire to figure it out if I can.
7. We laugh (all the f*cking time).
Oh man, we laugh about little things that make no sense (because they don’t have to). Sometimes I laugh until I pee a tiny bit, and then we laugh even more. We are simply enjoying each other. We aren’t afraid to show our affection—our unbridled laughter.
8. He makes me a better human.
When we wrote our vows to each other, we both (ironically) recognized that there would be hard days—we won’t be our best, and we will definitely make mistakes.
It’s nice to say that you promise to love someone forever, but we both believe that means loving them enough to say, “Hey, you’re better than this.”
One year ago, we sat alone on a cliff by the beach and read our vows. This is what I promised him:
“I don’t simply promise to love you. I vow to be there for you through the darkness—to push you when you’re not your best self—to keep you accountable and to be accountable. I want this next endeavor to sculpt us into the highest versions of ourselves separately and for each other.
Using both my hands, and both your hands, we will chip away at the dead ends. We will cultivate a life of value and purpose.
So we must be relentless, steadfast, and unselfish. I want us to push down barriers of fear and boundaries that will leave us stagnant.
I never want to stifle you; I want you to rise, and I want to rise alongside you.
I vow to require you to chase your dreams and listen when you expect the same from me. We aren’t just married, we are partners, and together we are stronger.
It’s a relatively easy thing to spout flowery words, wear a pretty dress or fancy shirt and say I love you, and it’s even easier when the sea is calm, but I vow to love you when the sea is restless and raging, and things are ugly.
I will not promise you perfection, but I will promise you devotion, an undying quest for betterment, and a life that leaves our heads unbent to the ways of others.
From day one, it has always been you; you see me; you challenge me; you inspire me beyond measure, and I vow always to strive to do the same for you.”
It’s one year down, and you know what? We abso-f*cking-lutely have done that for each other.
I will never portray myself as a Yoda of intimacy (I think I just got lucky with an amazing partner). But I know that I have learned some hard lessons that have given me a deep appreciation for the marriage I didn’t think I wanted.
I guess, sometimes, love has a mind of its own. And I am so damn lucky that’s the case.