It’s been what I’d call a rough week. Chris and I have been at the center of some lively debate and it’s been mentally and emotionally exhausting. I won’t go into detail but I will tell you that it all began with a comment about how “marriage is like a jail sentence” and the fact that the person who made the comment “doesn’t want to be handcuffed to someone for life.” I’ll also tell you that it’s weeks like this that make me appreciate (more than usual) the man I married.
We will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary this November. But we’ve been together—for the most part—for just under 13 years. I say “for the most part” because our relationship began when we were 16 and we’ve had our share of little teenage spats. Two of which (once during high school and once more during freshman year of college) resulted in us “taking a break.” You know how it goes. You have a fight so major that there’s just no getting past it. So you break up. And three weeks later you realize that you’ve done nothing but miss them, wonder what they’re up to, and ask yourself, “What was that fight about again?” Been there, done that. And yet here we are. Almost thirteen years later. More mature. More understanding of each others’ quirks and needs. And more in love than ever.
But how? We live in culture that is quick to give up on marriage, with 40+% of all marriages in the country ending in divorce. Then there’s domestic violence and infidelity and all those other couples who just seem to coexist without actually being happy to be together. What makes our relationship different than those? How have we gotten to where we are today? Sure, all the usual stuff….all the stuff psychologists and marriage experts will tell you are vital to building a strong marriage. We communicate—well and frequently. We show each other respect. We have similar ideals with respect to the “big deal” topics like finances and family. We share responsibilities. We have the perfect balance between “us” time and alone time—so neither of us are defined 100% by our relationship. We know how to fight fairly. But probably most importantly, we never miss an opportunity to make each other feel special.
Every day before he leaves for work, he finds me—usually I’m still in bed, so it’s not hard—and kisses my forehead. Some days he sends me a mid-day text message that just says, “Hi, beautiful.” Once in a while, it’s him giving me a foot massage while we curl up to watch a movie on the couch. (And, yes, I’ll admit it. He’s a better movie picker than I am. Just don’t tell him I said that.) He has a way of making me get that “melty” feeling inside. Even after almost thirteen years.
So today, just for fun, I stopped by the commuter lot where he parks his car to catch the bus into Hartford for work. I found his car, jotted a note on the first piece of paper I found in my car (a bank envelope), and left it on his dashboard. It just took a few minutes, but I knew he’d smile when he got off the bus and found it waiting for him. And he did.
Now, I realize that marriage isn’t for everyone—and you’re certainly in that group if you view it as a jail sentence! And I also realize that you don’t have to be married to be happy in a relationship—my parents were together for over 30 years before they got married. But I can say with certainty that marrying Chris was the best decision I’ve ever made because he’s my best friend and I wouldn’t want to experience this crazy thing we call life without him. So thank you, Chris, for being my “cell mate for life.”