About a month ago, Ever-Patient and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.
Here’s what we looked like 10 years ago:
Let’s take a brief walk down memory lane, shall we?
I remember that on June 28th, 2000, we wed on a beach on Paradise Island in the Bahamas (back when destination weddings were more like the exception than the rule).
I remember Ever-Patient and I discussing the idea of having a wedding here. Having lived together and raising a child who was about to turn 2, we felt that it was a bit bizarre to have a grand event. It was my mother who came up with the fabulous idea for us to get married abroad.
I remember living in student housing at the university and Ever-Patient working night shifts. We were barely making ends meet so a wedding on a shoestring budget was our reality at the time. We made our invites, CDs of our favourite songs to give away, centrepieces, and table numbers. In the end, my parents helped out a lot and we were grateful for their support in our decision to not have a huge wedding.
I remember my mom doing most of the liaising with the wedding coordinator. My mom would ask me, “Do you want white or cream linens for the tablecloths?” And I would say, “White?” And she would say, “Really? You think?” And then I would say, “Um, cream?” And then she would say, “Perfect choice!”
I remember shopping for my wedding dress. At first, I began shopping with my mother who insisted on having me try on all the traditional looking wedding dresses. I refused all the white dresses, having a moment similar to Miranda shopping for a wedding dress on an episode of Sex and the City:
I remember the day I found my dress. I was with a bridesmaid and we decided on a whim to go into a cheesy bridal shop and basically make fun of the dresses. I found a bridesmaid dress in an awful colour but in the most simplest style. It was only $150 and it came in cream! Problem solved. Wedding dress purchased.
I remember that the tag on our CD giveaways contained the following message:
Once upon a time two people fell in love, were blessed with an angel, promised forever in Paradise, and lived happily ever after.
I remember a week long vacation with friends and family…and then we happened to get married on the Wednesday.
I remember that #1 was our flower girl who began to walk down the steps to the beach as planned until she decided to veer off to the side and picking up shells. We left her there until my father and I got to her and he picked her up and the three of us walked down together to meet Ever-patient. It was completely unplanned but completely perfect.
I remember my brother Mark who was 5 and 1/2 eating a whole can of Cheetos right before the ceremony and having orange grease stains all over his shirt much to my mother’s chagrin.
I remember never feeling nervous or having cold feet because that day I wasn’t thinking about “forever in love” or “lifetime commitment.” I was thinking, “Today I will promise my best friend that I will be there beside him for him to lean on and for me to lean on him.” That’s it.
I remember how we wrote our own vows and how Ever-Patient forgot his during the ceremony and I cared for a split second. (After a few anxious seconds on his part, he remembered.)
I don’t remember much at the reception since my family likes to kick things off with lemon drops before dinner.
I remember saying personal and public thank you’s to all 40 of our guests.
I remember my grandmother and feeling so grateful she was there to share that day with me.
I remember, as clear as day, how Ever-Patient looked against the bluest of skies as he slipped that ring on my finger. I specifically told myself to hold on to the moment, to be there and nowhere else.
I remember tears and toasts on the beach with violins and bubbles in the background.
I remember wading into the water to watch the sunset with Ever-Patient after the ceremony and not caring if my dress got wet because it cost only $150.
I remember that my younger brother Matt who was almost 10 at the time read the following passage:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Fast forward 10 years.
The above passage completely reflects our marriage over the last 10 years. Space in our togetherness. Filling each other’s cup but not drinking from one cup. Not completing each other but walking side by side as we travel on our own journeys. There were times when we were quite a distance apart as we traveled while other times we were at arm’s length or hand in hand.
In the beginning, I had a hard time believing in “happily ever after.” My parents were divorced and I’ve seen families torn apart by failed marriages. I knew there was a possibility that it wouldn’t last. I didn’t believe in fairy tales only custody battles and trial separations. Every bump we had those first few years, I assumed we should be contacting lawyers. Ever-Patient was what he always was: Patient. Each time we disagreed, he assured me in the least sarcastic way that you could still love someone and want to tear a strip into them. He told me that ups and downs were normal and we would find our way.
Through every difficulty, he stuck around. Through every breakdown, he stuck around. Through every argument, he stuck around. Through every challenge, he stuck around. After awhile I realized and trusted that he truly wasn’t going anywhere.
Soon after, our sharp peaks and deep valleys became more like the gentle ebbs and flows of low tide. We had major life events during the last 10 years including 4 more babies, 3 house moves, and multiple career changes. But still, we ebb and flow.
There are times when we are so busy our heads are spinning and the most we may say to each other is “hey” or simply rhyme off a list of to-dos and schedules. There are other times when we deliberately schedule “us” time even if it means having a newborn sharing that time. We will sit for hours and talk even if it means that the next day we will have to get by with just 2 hours of sleep. We ebb and flow.
There are times we teeter back and forth through a spectrum of emotions towards one another – maybe ambivalent one day and absolute euphoric the next. Total irritation one minute and disgustingly affectionate the next. Sometimes we sit next to each other and hold hands as we watch the kids. Other times we are at opposite ends of the room surfing the net on our respective laptops. We ebb and flow.
We have learned to read each other. We are scathingly honest because we feel safe with one another. We love each other not in spite of our differences but because of them. We are strong individuals that do not acquiesce easily yet we have a profound respect for one another’s opinions. We LIKE each other. We actually like to spend time hanging out together in silence or in conversation depending on our moods. We are outnumbered which means we must remain a united stand as partners in our family. We are a reflection of what the other one is striving to acquire and we serve as constant reminders and systems of encouragement for each other. (For example, I am working on being more patient and Ever-Patient is working on being more organized.) Only we can empathize with what each other experiences day to day. (There aren’t many out there with families like ours.) We laugh. We laugh A LOT. We have many deliriously tired nights when all we can do is alternate between breathing and laughing.
I agree to an extent when people say marriage takes work. It does but not in the sense of putting effort into “fixing” a relationship. Marriage isn’t a linear path – you don’t go from Point A to Point B. It’s an organic entity that keeps morphing as circumstances change, individuals grow, and as learning takes place. But when you work on yourself through accepting yourself, loving yourself, and finding what your passionate about, your marriage can only benefit.
Thank you for getting me. Really getting me…particularly because I am definitely a tough one to get. The last 10 have flown by. It was a decade of “doing” – moving, changing, having babies, starting new careers. We may have changed our taste in clothes and may have learned to live healthier but I love that we still talk as if it was that first phone call when we spoke for hours.
Thank you for understanding the way I seem to ebb and flow. Thank you for respecting my need for solitude and my aversion to public displays of affection (I know that one’s hard for you!). Thank you for not ever wanting to change a single thing about me and being a sometimes vocal and a sometimes silent supporter in the background. Thank you for knowing when to carry me and when to encourage me to stand on my own two feet. Thank you for always always being in my corner even when I don’t deserve it. Thank you for pointing out in the most gentle way when I could have been better and for applauding when I was better. Thank you for being the rock when I can’t. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to stay home especially since I know that you would trade places with me in an instant. Thank you for making me feel safe: safe to voice my opinions, safe to vent, safe to let go, safe to ask for help, safe to make mistakes, safe to forgive, safe to live the life I’ve always wanted to live. Thank you most of all for teaching me patience and enduring love.
I am so excited for the rest of our life together.