The excitement of a wedding is sometimes the only thing that fills your brain when you get married.
Your dress. Your flowers. Your friends. Your reception. Your dance. Your new name.
You think, “I have it all together. We’re going to live here and work here. This is the start of my life.”
It’s partially a lie, of course. You are, indeed starting your life. But you’ve actually got nothing figured out. A year is both forever and no time at all. And when they say a lot changes in a year, it’s true. A year. Two years. Three years. Six years goes by in a blink. Suddenly it’s gone and you’re left wondering when you grew up, and how.
You’ll fight. You’ll make up. You’ll find yourself in tears because marriage is hard. You’ll find yourself in tears because your love is so strong. You’ll find yourself next to a hospital bed, worried to death that this imperfect human won’t leave okay because you love him so deeply and can’t imagine life without him.
He’ll want to scream at your wet towel on the floor. He’ll want to distract you while watching you cook dinner. Pregnancy will be the sexiest thing you’ve ever done in his eyes. And you’ll find those old flitting butterflies, deeper and truer than anything in the world, when he walks in from work and wraps his arms around you, placing his hands on your growing belly. Saying hello to his growing child.
You’ll follow him to the ends of the earth, pushing him onward. Reminding him that he is absolutely worth hiring. Reminding him that he works harder and stronger than anyone you know. Reminding him that you’re okay if he wants to be a firefighter and you’re okay if he wants to work in the oilfield and you’re okay if he decides to work in a chemical plant. You’ll mean every word, because you see how depressed he is while job hunting. You’ll work hard to help as best you can, knowing things will eventually work out. You’ll tell him for the hundredth time that he’s worth it.
A year or two later you’ll stand in your new house with your 12-month-old, your husband, and a bucket of paint and wonder out loud how the heck you survived the last year. It was a hell of a ride. Your husband will turn to you and laugh, he’s not sure either. But he finally got that job and it’s going great. You finally got to stay home and that’s a heck of a harder job than you even imagined.
He’ll put shoes on the baby for you, and he’ll take him to the park because you’re exhausted and need a break. You’ll take a hot bath and marvel at how much you love him, day in and day out. At how strong he is. At how kind he is. At how great of a father he is. At how great of a provider he is.
You’ll remember that moment when the most exciting thing in the world was a wedding dress and a name change, and you’ll laugh at yourself. Because the most important thing isn’t a name, a dress, flowers, or friends. It’s love, grace, peace, and understanding. It’s reminding yourself that you can do the unthinkable and take on the world together.
It’s remembering that you love someone even when you’re mad and choosing kindness and patience when you don’t want to. It’s realizing that he’s choosing kindness and patience when he doesn’t want to, also. It’s the joy on your son’s face when his father walks into the house. It’s a hot bath at noon, because your husband works shift work and offered to watch the baby for an hour. It’s a hot dinner and the lunch you made for him, tucked in with a peanut butter sandwich because that’s his favorite.
And it’s ever evolving. If you’ve learned anything, it’s that challenges happen and they beg you to conquer them. Together. They beg you to grab your spouse and say, “I know this is hard, but we’re strong, and solid, and we will keep on trucking because I FREAKING LOVE YOU.”
And when it’s all over, you’ll stand on the cliff of a mountain together and look at what you created. You’ll see that the hardest moments became glistening rivers that feed the trees. Trees that were tiny seedlings when you planted them together. Hand in hand, you’ll watch your valley grow into something lush and beautiful, because you worked hard. Because you loved hard.
This is only 6 years of many, many more.
Happy anniversary, Jake Hickman. I love you with everything I have.