I am 13 years into a marriage with a great guy. We met in August of 2000. I was 20, he was 22, and we were both so stupid and so young. He says he thought I was mysterious. I thought he was goofy and funny. I lured him to sneak into the swimming pool at the apartment complex in the middle of the night like the light weight rebel I am. He quoted every movie he knew instead of responding to questions just to make me giggle. He bought me my weird sushi. I watched Star Wars with him. We knew within weeks of meeting, that we were getting married. That was it. I was done looking. To this day I still don’t know what the heck we were thinking. I don’t know why he chose me, cause I was rather self-centered and immature. He was a 6ft5 tall computer geek with broad shoulders, blondish curls that would afro out if he didn’t keep it short, and a blazing red beard. His blue eyes were, and still are, gorgeous, deep water blue. He quotes monty python movies. He can’t match his socks. He cooks, and is willing to eat what I make even after he’s put out a few (*cough* just a few) kitchen fires due to my “talents.” Our first real date that wasn’t a coffee shop was us watching The Princess Bride in my tiny little apartment that smelled like cigarette smoke because of the chain smoker that lived below me. Our second date, he started to say “As you wish” when I asked him to do something for me. He still does that today.
I do love him, though after 13 years of marriage and 15 years of being together, it’s no longer that hot, burning, “OMG, I want him to be touching me somehow, his hand on mine, his leg touching mine as we sit smooshed together watching something, anything at all,” that hot RUSH that being near him first gave me. It’s not even that “I can’t wait until he gets off of work so we can snuggle and giggle about stupid stuff or go out for drinks and laughter” that it was for the years before the kids. Now it is a slow burning wish to always have him nearby, all the time. It’s the maturity to know that we have to work and want to love on the kids and we have to meet our responsibilities, but I will always prefer to be with him than anywhere else and with anyone else. And here’s the kicker that will probably get me yelled at by random people. I’d rather spend time with him than my kids sometimes. Yes. I said it. He’s my best friend. He’s my rock and my calm and my peace. My kids, I love them so much. They are a huge part of my joy and smiles and laughter. But Daniel is my calm and my harbor in the storm.
Kids totally changed our marriage. And NO, that’s not a cop out and no I am not at ALL regretting having them. As I said, they are my joy. But having a child, and then having that child be so sick, and then after she was “healthy-ish” again, adding two more children in the span of 18 months has left us reeling each time one of those things hit. Left us finding our feet and figuring out our new normal. Because let’s be honest. There is no “normal” parenting. There is what works in your house with your personalities. Your family is the only mix of your personalities under the sun, and you have to work with what you have. So yeah, We changed.
Dan and I had a REALLY hard time of dealing with Sophie’s illness. Dan took one look at his baby girl when she was born and melted into the floor. When she was sick and he couldn’t fix it, the way that men always want to fix a problem, he shut down. And I was flailing around out of control, lost, wanting my baby better, and ready to kill or die for her to get there. And Daniel ran under my tire treads a few times while I was on a rampage trying to figure something out or deal with yet another blow we were dealt.
How we survived that, I don’t know. We fought. Actually, I raged, and he sat and listened to me rage. Daniel’s good at that. To this day our arguments are more one sided followed by reasoned discussions and planning to solve the problem. I am the emotion and pain and raw passion and flash fire when we have a disagreement. He’s thinking “just duck and cover… wait for it, cause once the flash fire has passed, she’s gonna be more reasonable.” Then we talk it through. While he didn’t have as much of the reasoning to do when Sophie was sick cause there really wasn’t any planning we could do to fix the things that would set me off, cause cancer can’t be fixed… I was just going off because I could. But he stayed with me. He understood. He knew me. We’d been married at that point for 7 years, and he knew that I was terrified. He knew I wasn’t rational and while he probably wasn’t okay with it, he dealt with it and doesn’t hate me for it. I don’t know why. I’m pretty sure some of the crap I said was unforgivable, but I married a saint. Thank God.
At this point in our marriage, though, I admit, I am NOT always in love with him, but I do always love him. And he is ALWAYS my best friend. That’s what marriage is. It’s not always agreeing. It’s not always being happy with each other. It’s being annoyed by the things you used to find cute. It’s being annoyed by so many things when you haven’t had coffee or chocolate. It’s hearing him chew chips and wanting to pour water on him cause HE’S SO STINKIN’ LOUD!!! It’s telling him to shut up, even when you don’t mean it, cause you’ve had the day from hell. And feeling horrible about it later. Marriage is NOT always being in love with the person you are with. It’s work. And it’s hard frickin’ work. That stupid sayingn “It’s not 50/50, its 100/100” is right, even though it’s a stupid and annoying saying. There are days I wonder if he could do better. There are days I wonder if I could do better. But those days are going to happen, and they don’t rise to the level of the calm and peace I feel on the days that I wake up in his arms and know I’m home.
So on those days when the grass looks greener, I don’t have to remind myself very hard that it’s not greener. Yes, he’s a computer geek. Yes, he quotes movies rather than talks sometimes. Yes I find his shavings around my sink, or he “cleans it up” by leaving a puddle of water around the sink and the floor. Yes, he wears a Star Wars shirt that is too small for him because it’s his only Star Wars shirt and I haven’t been able to find the same one to replace that one yet. Yes… he wears that tiny, too short, “your stomach is showing if you move your arms up, honey” shirt… in public. No, he’s not exactly the recent Naval midshipman that could run miles and do 80 pushups that he was 15 years ago. (But GOD I’m not the chick in the bikini in the pool at 3am anymore, either.. omg…. 3 kids later. I’m more a whale at risk of being harpooned.) But He’s still my Daniel.
He still can pull off that big, broad silent type, his curly hair exactly the same curly hair it was when he let me attack it with hair gel and made him look like a backstreet boy when we were first together. He’s still the guy that is so secure he’s cool with a chick doing his toenails in Gator Blue, but now it’s his little girl doing the painting with a nice iridescent blue with pink glitter instead of me putting on blue glitter hearts. Hes the only person that understands my Kids In The Hall references. We finish each others’ thoughts. When I describe something, he knows what I’m describing. He knows what I want, often before I do. He’s my soulmate. He’s everything I need on my bad days. And I thank God that I was given him.
Marriage: it’s about work and acceptance and WANTING to be married to the person you are with. Sometimes things interfere that CAN’T be accounted for that will destroy all that work and acceptance and wanting. Sometimes life comes in and slaps all the work you’ve put in. Or sometimes the person you are with doesn’t want it as much as you do. But as long as you both are in it with the same desires and both want to keep what you’ve built, and life doesn’t interfere with all the work you’ve put in, you should be okay. And The Princess Bride and Kids In The Hall references don’t hurt.