My husband and I have been married for three years today. Graham is my best friend, my partner, on occasion my therapist, and the love of my life. If soul mates are for real, I’m certain he’s mine.
Our wedding was beautiful, every detail exactly what we wanted, and the perfect expression of our personalities and our love for each other.
But marriage is more than a pretty white dress and fond feelings. Neither of us came into this thinking that we’d have a fairy tale ending. Marriage is hard. It’s a brutal, non-stop boot camp that teaches you how to love another person. It’s not easy to share your life with another human being. It’s not easy to be selfless when someone else’s goals need attention. And don’t even get me started on money. That’s ground we cover with our combat boots on. Marriage takes work. It takes commitment and effort. Every. Single. Day.
And it’s worth it. It’s worth it to have a partner who supports you, who laughs with you and cries with you and sings with you and drinks wine (only seldom to excess) with you. It’s worth it to know we will always come home to each other, no matter how awful the day or how far the distance.
Graham and I are happy. We might not be happy every minute of every day, but we’re happy with each other and happy with our life together. We don’t get it right every time (who does?), but we always try, and every day we learn a little more about what makes our marriage work.
We talk. About everything. All the time. We talk about politics and philosophy and photography and writing. We talk about work and projects. We talk about our insecurities, and we brag about our accomplishments and our talents. We talk about our house, our pets, our cars (more about his, because it’s a piece of crap). We end every argument with a long conversation about why we argued and how we can work together to move forward, and what we need from each other. Ours is a verbose relationship, and that means that we don’t hold anything back. We talk, and we trust.
We do stuff. We dabble in our hobbies together. I’m Graham’s photography assistant (I’m a glorified lens-holder). He’s my sous chef (he’s basically the dishwasher and garbage man). We make a point of exploring new places and seeing new things together. We go adventuring together (he plans and I fret…it works). We encourage each other to learn and grow and not get bored. We engage each other not just as romantic partners, but as real people with real interests. He’ll hold my hand while I see the tigers at the zoo, and I’ll hold his (but close my eyes) while he looks at the snakes.
We don’t fight fair. Bear with me on this one. Graham’s a logic machine – at his worst, he’s a pedantic, intellectual snob who will rip apart an argument for the sake of doing it. I’m an emotional tyrant – at my worst, I always know the most hurtful thing to say, and I’ve got a temper that would frighten Donald Trump. And it’s okay. He’s smart, savvy, quick-thinking, and willing to stand up for himself when he knows he’s right. I’m passionate, committed, and I won’t back down when I believe in something. I’m fire and he’s ice. We balance each other, and we understand that neither of us is perfect. We know that we can’t love each other halfway. If we always tiptoed around our differences, we really wouldn’t have much of a relationship.
We apologize. I’m scary in an argument. He’s detached. We know this. We really, really know this. But we both know when to quit and say we’re sorry. Admitting when we’re wrong and owning up to it isn’t always easy (it’s never easy). But being together is more important than winning. You can’t build a life together if you act like adversaries keeping score. “I’m sorry,” said honestly, gracefully, and with conviction and respect, are the two most important, powerful words in a marriage.
We are grateful. For the good times and the bad times, and the boring times, and the exciting times, and the arguments, and the apologies, and the adventures, and all of the times we’ve come through for each other when it matters. Life throws curve balls. Plans fall through. Things don’t always work the way we’d planned. We still have each other. We never forget how important that is.
Growing up, I always said I’d never get married. Marriage meant a lifetime with one person. Marriage meant compromising myself and my dreams for someone else. I just couldn’t imagine loving someone enough to make that kind of commitment. Now, I can’t imagine my life without my husband in it. Our marriage makes me stronger, kinder, braver, more patient, more ambitious, more motivated, and just better.
Graham is my North Star. He’s the fixed foot of my compass, and his love will carry me through anything life throws at me.
I love you, Grahambler, every second of every day. Thank you for going on this journey with me.