Mom… I met a boy.
You did? What’s his name?
Kris. He’s really tall and he’s really cute.
Is Tall Kris nice? Is he funny? Is he smart?
Seems like it. I think you and Dad would like him.
Oh, maybe we will meet Tall Kris one day.
That’s a long way off but who knows.
If you like him, I’m sure we will like him.
I don’t know Mom, there is something special about him. It just feels different.
Our story began the way most of our stories do. Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Boy and girl begin life together.
25 years later, This is Us.
My husband isn’t a big jewelry guy. Never has been. When we were dating, he bought me a sweatshirt one Christmas. He likes to remind me that it was a very popular brand when he bought it, but it was still a sweatshirt. Comfortable, cozy, practical, useful but not romantic. We’ve never had a Christmas morning where I opened a little box with a shiny new ring that weighed my finger down with some serious bling. And there has never been a flashy car in my driveway with a red bow on it on my birthday or I was never whisked away on a spontaneous trip to Paris where we watched the Eifel Tower sparkle at night while we held hands and ate gelato. Nope, not in my world.
As amazing as that might be, I don’t think any of those would have kept me married for 25 years to the same person. They would have been fun moments, memorable ones for sure, but not moments that kept us married… for better or worse.
On our wedding day we believe “better” but rarely think about “worse”. For better or worse means rainbows and storms. It means through moments of joy and moments of struggle. It means through great sex and through shouting matches. It means through long kisses and through stinky farts. It means through new babies and lost babies. It means through date nights and all-nighters with a sick child. It means as fabulous or as fucked-up as I am, you will still choose me. And I will do the same.
Marriage is hard because life is hard. Parenting is hard. Relationships are hard. Jobs are hard. Adulting is hard. Changing is hard. Understanding people is hard. Growing old with someone is hard. Hard, hard, hard. Ugh.
No one tells you how hard marriage is when you get married. They say “It’s going to be difficult” but you have no frickin’ clue about what they mean. It isn’t until you are deep in it or wondering why the hell you ever said “I Do” that you completely understand what they were warning you about. For most of us, marriage is the hardest thing we will ever do in our lifetime. When we see wrinkled old couples who have been married for what seems a lifetime and think “Awww…How sweet”, we should really be saying “Damn… that’s impressive”.
It’s a mystery what keeps couples together. For each dynamic duo it’s something different. Some couples are tied together with strong faith, others with passionate love. Other couples share the same game plan for life or use adventure and travel as the glue to their union. Each relationship choses what works and what doesn’t. Staying married is such a personal journey, it’s about holding on to each other during the darkness and dancing together during the bright moments. Staying married means realizing that in many cases, the better comes after the worse. Staying married means letting go of how love is portrayed on social media or in movies and learning to appreciate how it is shown or given within your own story.
It’s taken me many years to appreciate how my husband shows me love. It’s not in grand gestures or shiny things. It’s not in flowers (too expensive and they die) and it’s not in chocolates (I’m allergic to dairy). It’s not in sparkly diamonds or spontaneous jaunts across the world. It is small ways, small gestures and small acts that when I look deep, are so much more romantic than any flower or gift. What he does never shouts “Look at me” but what he does always says “I love you”.
When we swim, he always gives me the bigger floatie.
If we are trying to decide where to eat, he says “It all starts with what you want”.
He writes me funny rhyming poems every Christmas and wraps them up as a present.
He tells me to buy the Lululemon leggings even if they aren’t on sale.
He laughs at me if I get tipsy and puts a big glass of water next to my bed before I go to sleep.
When we dance, he lets me be wild and crazy and dance like a fool.
On road trips, he is very fair balancing out his play list (terrible!) with mine (amazing!).
When he coaches, he likes me to be in my seat before the game starts so he knows I made it safely.
He encourages Girls Night Out dinners with my besties and offers to be my Uber.
He loves my parents and treats them with kindness and respect.
He watches The Real Housewives of Orange County with me. He may deny it, but it’s true.
If I am exhausted, he is happy to order out. (Not sure if this has anything to do with my cooking but I chose to see the glass half full on this one).
He never gets mad when I fall asleep during every single movie we watch.
He tells me I am sexy. Even when I know I look like shit.
In the middle of his 50th surprise birthday party he sent me a text that said, “In case I forget to thank you later, this was a great night!”.
He winks at me.
He scratches my feet every single night when we climb into bed.
If our one of our kids get stinky with me, he has my back. Always.
He overcooks the chicken because he knows I worry about salmonella.
He puts the cover on our pool every night because he knows I hate swimming in cold water.
He gets choked up when he has to talk about me in public. Tall Kris has a tender heart.
Marriage has been a hard road, but definitely worth the trip. Our bodies are a bit softer, the numbers on the scale are a little higher, we move slower and we are not as young as we were when we took those vows many year ago. But this lifelong journey we are on together…it is our story to tell.
If there is one thing 25 years of marriage has taught me it is that I need to live my love story, not someone else’s. Movies lie. Instagram lies. Facebook lies. No one’s life is as great as their posts seem. Everyone and every relationship have warts and flaws. Those things I loved about my spouse when I first met him are some of the things that drive me the craziest. And Lord knows, I drive him crazy all the time. It’s part of our story and what knits us together.
I love our story. It has ups and downs. Twists and turns. Joy and sorrow. It’s not perfect or predictable. I love looking back and remembering the moment we met and all the sweet moments that are forever etched in my heart since that important day. I love knowing that he is my ride or die for another 25 years and I will choose him, over and over. Our struggles, our marriage, our memories, our love, our story to tell.
Diamonds are nice but a man who gives you the bigger pool floatie every time… he’s a keeper.
This is Us.