I knew it the moment I saw her. It seems cliche I know, and had I not experienced it, I would have been the first to dismiss it. But I can’t deny it, as soon as I saw my wife, I knew she was the one, my “tru wuv”.
My wife and I have been together for 18 years — married for 15 years today — and as should have been expected, it hasn’t always been easy. It has been a long, hard road, years of difficulty, fighting, crying, deciding to stay together or not. So many times, so close. Yet neither of us being able to imagine our life without the other.
It has also been an amazing ride. Years and years of growing older together, raising a family together, traveling and playing together, and laughing together — a lot of laughing together. Both of us picturing our (hopefully) long lives with each other.
I asked my wife to marry me after a trip abroad. During that trip I had been trying to find the perfect ring to give her. Randomly, while taking in a play at Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London, I saw it, and just like when I saw her, I knew it was the one. When I presented her with the ring, she was immediately taken aback and abruptly ran upstairs to her bedroom — luckily she came back down, and when she did she was carrying an eerily similar ring that she had also gotten in England, 10 years prior. She had it all of those years, just waiting to give it to someone.
Admittedly, it took me a good 15 years to completely understand her (I am slow on the uptake). After her step-father died, she wrote a eulogy describing how he showed his love to his wife every day, not by how affectionate he was, not by saying “I love you” all the time, but by his actions; how he went out of his way on the daily to take care of his wife. It was in that moment that I truly understood mine.
I personally don’t believe that two people are meant to be together forever, I think the whole idea of a marriage in and of itself is antiquated and sets one up for inevitable failure, I mean just look at the data. Almost half of the marriages in the US end in divorce, and the rate is even higher for subsequent marriages. Believe me I get it, I really do, it is so difficult to spend day in and day out with the same person, someone that you may or may not still love, someone you may or may not still be in love with. Someone who knows how to push your buttons and how you push theirs. Someone who has grown, while you have grown — more likely apart than together.
Couples in the US get married, on average, at the age of 28 years old and most people will not die until aged 80 years. Therefore, if you take the wedding vows literally — until death do us part — you will be with the same person for almost 60 years, 6-decades of your life…with the same person; hence the close to 1/3 divorce rate.
Lets face it, marriage years, like dog years, do not equate to just one. Those of you who are married, you know what I am talking about! There were times over the last 15 years that I have wanted to pack up and run far away, I am sure my wife has as well! The expectation that you both will stay the same as you were when you were married, that you will not grow or change in that time, is a ridiculous notion. The person you were when you fell in love at aged 28 is not the person you will be at aged 38, or 48, or 58 and so on. That is ok, in fact that is natural. And to expect couples to stay together — regardless of any other factors — through those natural changes, is also a ridiculous notion.
A fictional TV millennial wisely said once: “Maybe nothing went wrong, maybe the relation lasted for the amount of time it was supposed to, maybe all relationships have a finite lifespan…” (Girls). I don’t know if that is true or not, all I know is that 10 years to the day of our non-legal commitment ceremony, my wife and I got legally married (finally! #ThanksObama), with our kid by our side. We did not go into this new legal marriage lightly, we discussed and we pondered, and we decided that we were either going to call it quits or we were going to commit to a life together, as better partners, with the understanding that neither of us were the same as we were 10 years prior and neither of us would be the same 10 years in the future. We would go into this new partnership together, as partners with equal respect and love for each other. That was 5 years ago, and I believe we are happier now than we have ever been.
My wife went on a trip to Berlin last year while I stayed home and manned the fort. I posted on Facebook: “Lara is off to Berlin for 6 days and she hasn’t quite left yet and I already miss her. After 17+ years, that’s love!” To which a friend replied: “❤You guys do marriage so well. A bajillion couples should take notes xo”
Whether we do marriage well or not is really only for us to decide, but I do know that when I look at her I see someone who still makes me laugh and smile, I see an amazing wife and caretaker, and honestly the best mom I have ever bared witness to! I see someone who shares the same core values around generosity and altruism when it comes to helping people, animals, and our planet. I see someone who supports me unconditionally, who always encourages me and gives me sage advice — even when I don’t know I need it, or think I want it. I hope she sees all the same in me.
We have both grown tremendously over the last 18 years, we are not the same people we were individually or together, and that is ok. Being in love is what brought us together all of those years ago, but it is not what keeps us together today. What keeps us together is love, just love. Love of and for each other, and love of the life we have created together, and love of what is to come.