I met Austin eight years ago. Two short years after that, I married him. It was kind of strange, actually. He had some of the qualities I was looking for; tall, smart, ready to change the oil in my car. But he was quieter than the rest. Less affectionate. When I wanted to make unnecessary purchases or go out for ice cream, he scrunched up his face and looked at his shoes. When I wanted him to meet all my friends, he smiled politely but didn’t offer any grandiose stories or wave his arms. For the first year of our relationship, I observed him like a casual science experiment. Oh, you watch golf tournaments? Oh, you only like homemade pies? Oh, you don’t like when I change the radio station four hundred times in one minute? Interesting.
But just as the rom coms tell us, opposites attract. They might want to occasionally murder each other or pretend they don’t hear the other person shouting for toilet paper in the bathroom, but the attraction will be there. And when it comes down to it–Austin and I are more alike than we admit. For example, we both like to have things our own way. First borns can be like that. We also both really enjoy not cooking, not cleaning, and not organizing the pantry cupboards. I guess it was meant to be.
On Saturday we celebrated six years of marriage. Six years of moving boxes, changing careers, and fighting over the cell phone bill. Our relationship has changed so much since that day in May. Of course you know things will change, but just like you know your kids will grow older or your face will get wrinkles–it’s still surprising when it actually happens. Some of it is for better, some of it is for worse. Mostly it’s just different. Kids, aging, career–those things are game changers. Priority shifters. Things to be addressed and discussed and hashed out when everyone would rather go to bed. The most inconvenient truth about relationships is that it’s always better to say “I feel like shit,” than slam the cupboard doors and expect telepathy. Even if it’s writing an e-mail or having an awkward conversation at 2am, it’s better than letting an angry tumor grow. I already have enough problems with digestion.
If anything, we have only grown more into ourselves. We go through so many versions of ourselves in our twenties, that who I am now is so different from who I was when we first met. It always feels good to arrive at something better, but it does require getting to know each other over and over again. Side effects include growing pains and googling, “Why is my spouse always hiding in the bathroom.” An easier way to approach these changes would be an annual meet and greet. You know, slap on a name-tag and say, “Hi, my name is Kate. I no longer enjoy Chinese food and need at least one day a week where no one is touching me. Thanks!”
I have a lot of regrets in life, regrets that I know I should let go because it’s not helping anyone to sit around regretting them. Marrying this man is not one of them. He is everything I never knew I always wanted. One day a year, I’m allowed to use that cliche.
Happy anniversary to the guy who takes out the trash, delivers my babies, and makes us homemade waffles on rainy days. There is so much more in store for us. May we weather the storms with more grace than we deserve. May time only make us better.