This week marks the 10th year of my husband and me as a couple–of him and me, being “us.”
Obviously, there are lots of couples out there who can claim much lengthier track records. My wonderful parents and my lovely in-laws both have 30ish years of marriage under their respective belts. There are couples of our own, late-twenties generation who’ve been together longer, as well: couples who were high school rather than college sweethearts like my husband and me.
But for me, this 10 year mark offers a moment for reflection–reflection and an overwhelming sense of my own good fortune. (Of course, this could also be the biproduct of all the Thanksgiving-y vibes in the air.)
In some ways, it seems almost impossible that so much time could’ve passed. As a teenager, I had this notion that life after marriage was, well, a bit dull. Sure, dating was exciting. Engagement was probably pretty thrilling, too. But once you were married, weren’t you just a bit “settled?” Boring? Static, perhaps? Didn’t it just get a little mundane?
As an adult woman, I’ve been delighted to discover that all such notions were bunk. It’s 10 years later and my husband still makes me laugh aloud, almost daily. He still makes me feel beautiful (which is saying something for someone plagued with chronic self-esteem issues. But that’s another post….) We still dance in the kitchen. He’s still the place I go for wisdom and comfort. For comprehension and acceptance of who I am, at my deepest level. It doesn’t feel like we’ve experienced 10 years of wear and tear on our romance. To me, it seems to be almost constantly regenerating. Obviously, some days are better than others–no marriage is without patchy bits. But more than 3,650 days later, I still love that we come home to each other every evening… a series of evenings passing by in a quick silver stream.
When I start tallying up all the life we’ve experienced together, though, I’m amazed by all we’ve done side by side, all we’ve crammed into the last decade. We earned our bachelor degrees. I overcame anorexia (with my family and husband’s steady support). He joined the Foreign Service. I earned my Masters in English and American Literature. He traveled for work to Jordan, Hong Kong, India, Tunisia, Pakistan, Indonesia. I published articles, reviews, short stories. We lived together in Indiana, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Houston, Washington D.C., China, and (now) Suriname. We’ve done the long-distance relationship thing, and the making a new life from scratch in a different country thing. We have a long way ahead of us still (fingers crossed, anyway!). But we’ve lived more than a slice of life as a team, with his fingers interwoven with mine. Has so much really happened in just 10 years?
My husband isn’t just a feature of my “real” life, either. He’s also everywhere in my writing. For one thing, he’s a very gifted editor and writer himself–a fact I suspect he sometimes regrets letting onto, given that I’m constantly shoving some piece of my work under his nose, chanting “Read it! Read it! Read it!”
But despite this constant nagging/pleading/bothering on my part, he consistently, loyally provides me with the tough, honest feedback I crave. Weekly, he gives me the great gift of pushing me to be better, to write more fiercely and critically, because he knows being the finest writer I can be is the dream nearest my heart.
He’s also hidden at the heart of so much of what I write. His character resonates in the better parts of my male characters, in the parts of them that are brave or truthful or self-sacrificing. And he, and our marriage, are constantly teaching and re-teaching me about love. These lessons are in the ways he loves me. In the ways I’m learning to love him. In our difficult times, and our triumphant seasons. Of course those great romantic classics of literature–everything by Jane Austen, Shakespeare’s star couples, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc.–have impressed upon my work, too. (As have many of my favorite contemporary love stories–I’m no snob!) But it is my marriage that adds a pulse of life and warmth in the unique way nothing else can. As a writer, it can be challenging to find fresh ways of expressing this beautifully complex concept called “love” when so many gifted authors have traversed the territory before you. This very post runs the risk of being clichéd, I know. (Perhaps this is why Ms. Austen so wisely correlates depth of love with difficulty of expression; how to package such a thing in so fragile a vessel as words?) Yet the life my husband and I share offers a fresh note I would otherwise miss, deeply and dearly.
As a writer and a woman, I’m blessed. In the daily hustling-and-bustling, this can be easy to forget. And our marriage is certainly not without its flaws–how could it be, when we’re both so flawed ourselves? Yet I’m still a huge fan of my husband in my life, even a decade later. Finding one another is nothing we did, or deserved. God was simply generous, lining us up at just the right time, in the right place. And I’m so grateful He did, because my husband is my Mr. Knightly, my Mr. Darcy, my Mr. Rochester (albeit sans the crazed wife in the attic–I hope!) It’s hackneyed, perhaps, but true:
My husband is my better–my best–half.
Like what you’ve read? Follow my blog via email or WordPress (on the sidebar), or shoot me an email (using the footer).