My husband and I were married on July 4, 2008. This week we celebrated our three-year anniversary and by celebrate I mean we tried to find at spare moment between his busy work schedule and my toddler wrangling to exchange lame cards and attempt to have sexy time amidst exhaustion and spontaneous lactation (me not him). Three years in and we’re already “those people” who have fallen into a rhythm where our time together looks more like friendship and parenting than romance and animal magnetism. We still hold hands and he grabs my ass any chance he can get but if you pass us on the street we’re probably pushing a stroller filled with an adorable boy and talking about our finances.
People say that when you have children you have to make it a priority to put your marriage first. There are days that I don’t shower and he doesn’t eat so how are we expected to live up to that kind of standard? Most days we just pass like ships in the night and I feel like our marriage is at the bottom the to-do list below “change the cat litter” and “make a dentist appointment.”
And then I try to imagine my life – a single day – not married to him and everything falls apart. Somehow just being married makes life better. It makes toddler mealtime, long work days and family heartbreak easier to swallow. My husband has cried twice since we’ve been together. On our wedding day and the moment our son was born. Happy tears that of course joined along with mine in blissful harmony. But when things are hard, really hard, he leaves the crying to me. When I went into preterm labor, I remember watching my contractions come every three minutes and asking my husband how big a baby is at 27 weeks. He said, “Not big enough.” And then I told him that if I were to give birth, no matter what happened, that he would stay with our baby. Go with him. Anywhere. No matter what. Because if our son only had a short time in this world – he would never be alone and he would know that he was loved. My husband didn’t match my tearful gaze; he agreed and held my hand a little firmer because even though his heart was breaking too, I needed him to be stronger than I was.
He was a constant support for the 11 weeks it took my son to latch and told me what an amazing mother I was when my mind was filled with insecurity. And just last month, he held me tight and let me do the crying when I miscarried. My husband is my rock when I’m in a hard place, since having a child his own needs are often met last (if at all) and I can only hope that I provide as much stability for him as he does for me.
Sometimes I sit back and wonder what I did to deserve my life, my husband. I think about how marriage is better than the childhood dreams I had of Ken and Barbie living in a pink and yellow Winnebago. This is the life I waited for, the life we made for ourselves by living it intentionally and fully. Neither of us thought that marriage, vows, and rings, would change us. But it did. Having an equal partner to relish in all of the sunshine and shit life hands you truly makes being two better than one.
On our anniversary I polished my wedding ring. Underneath the smashed blueberries and baby lotion was the same beautiful symbol that I accepted three years ago. It still sparkled and shimmered in the light and I admired it on my hand just as I did on the day my husband placed it there. I am proud of my marriage and although it may seem to be covered in friendship and parenting, underneath it still shines through with love, trust and an occasional glimmer of fiery passion. Marriage hasn’t been a candy-coated fairy tale but it has been a gift that makes life so much sweeter. I just need to remember to put a little “us time” closer to the top of the to-do list.