Today is the one year anniversary of my wedding day. At approximately this time last year, I would have been sitting in the hair salon with five of the most important women in my life, two photographers, approximately a six gallons of hair spray and more bobby pins than I could possibly count (but that I would spend a substantial portion of my wedding night removing). There were butterflies in my stomach. Maybe they were small helicopters. At any rate, by the time I finally got into my wedding dress a few hours later, nervous vomiting was a very real possibility. My stomach remained in that state until the moment I saw Dan. At that moment, everything became calm. Clear. Grounded. Happy. When I took his hands and with all that I am, and all that I have, honored him as my life partner, everything else faded away.
I'd been warned to not expect my wedding day to be the best day of my life. It was the disclaimer at the end of almost every sentence, every advice book, etc. I have to say, though, that so far, my wedding day has been the best day of my life. It was beautiful, powerful and fun, and I shared it with a couple of hundred people who have seen me at my best and my worst. It was amazing beyond words.
People have a lot of advice about weddings, but they don't actually give a whole lot of it about marriage. I think I've come to understand that the reason for that is that no matter what state your marriage is in, it is a union bound in an experience that is beyond words. The reason that all those sitcoms about marriage are funny (arguably) is because a lot of those experiences have happened to a lot of people - but that's not what marriage is. There are certainly the every day annoyances of living with another human being - but that's not what marriage is.
In the first year, here is what I think I know:
1. Marriage is not something you ARE, it's something you DO. There used to be this billboard at an intersection near my office that said "What have you done for your marriage today?" It seems sort of silly. But it's true.
2. Marriage may change things, but it doesn't change people. Some people would probably argue with me about that one, but I think that's a function of deciding that marriage is something you ARE. If it's something you DO, you are doing it with the same person that you married in the first place. That is at once very comforting, and totally frustrating. That person comes with all the things you love about them, and all of the things that irritate you about them.
3. Because marriage is something you do, and because you are the same person you were when you married this other person, care of your own self is so crucially important. Lots of people seem to think that you naturally become this pod, particularly once children are introduced. That's great if you're into it - but really, there's no need to be a pod. You can be your own pea.
4. As a companion to #3, you must have things that you and your spouse do together. Make dates. Make up silly songs that you sing to one another. Plan trips. Don't have everything centered around what you "have to do." Don't forget about "want to do"s.
5. Don't get caught up in what's next. I think this is the hardest one for me. There are so many things that I want to do - with Dan and without Dan. The sitcom version of marriage (as well as the extended family version) is that you have kids next. Boy, does that ever make something that's already complicated even more so. If you want kids, great. If thinking about kids makes you really excited, but thinking about kids right now makes the tiny helicopters come back in a bad way, it can probably wait a bit.
6. Set aside time for state of the union discussions. Where you're at, where you're going, where you'd like to go. Every day life has a tendency to thwart those sometimes, but they're really important.
I'm sure there's much, much more. I'm only a rookie after all. I do know that after a year has gone by, seeing Dan's face at the end of the day is still my favorite thing. It's home. And it's great.
Happy anniversary, my love.