Now, having lived our marriage for Four years, I can tell you something that I’ve found to be true: Marriage is on-the-job training. Like Parenthood, in many ways. You can read every book, dream and plan together, but the real marriage and the truest test comes from actually living your life– together, as a unit. In the past four years, we have seen so much, been through so much together– individual personal struggles, career heartbreaks and victories, loss, grief, joy, passion, negotiation and tenderness. Our journey together has been so different than what I ever could have imagined, and has brought us closer than I thought we could be– even as I stood there on our wedding day feeling like we were as close and as happy as was humanly possible. But our happiness is different now. It’s worn in, softer. It’s been scuffed and bumped, tousled and dusted off. Our happiness is more humble, and more fierce than it was. I feel truly fortunate that when I look at this man (who has greyed significantly in the years since our marriage– sorry, baby) that I know I have found and married my greatest friend. I feel fortunate to truly love him more today than I did on our wedding day.
I love this man because he is overwhelmingly good. He does the right thing, always, and is an excellent friend to the people he loves. He brings the trash cans out for the neighbors. He adores our daughter, and she adores him– and when I watch them together I know that they are cut from the same lightbeam of truly-good-person-ness and I’m in awe of them. He makes me laugh, suddenly, in ways I don’t see coming. He’s kind to me when I don’t have the strength to be kind to myself. He has my back in a way that makes me feel like part of a really scary and cool gang with two members. He’s handsome– and has hair to rival any Bobble Head doll you have every seen. I love that when I tell him I have something gross to show him on my body, he says “Hang on, let me get my glasses.”
But my love for my husband is not strictly for these warm and fuzzy reasons. I love him also because he fights with me. He makes mistakes. He grows. He’s good at forgiving himself, which I am bad at. He isn’t scared to be ugly or vulnerable, he apologizes when I can’t– and when I can’t he makes me. He’s seen me at my worst, and knows the “best” that I’m capable of. He is committed to working on our relationship– as we change and grow, and experience frustrations, heartbreaks, and roadblocks. He is committed to being part of something bigger than himself, and to knowing that our biggest victory is growth, together. I love him for everything, but mainly for this. For this work in progress that he allows and encourages our marriage to be.
Here’s to many more…
Photographs by Tec Petaja