Originally published September 30, 2018
It’s interesting these days, in the age of oversharing and social media, to see the lengths people go to profess their love.
In recent years, I’ve had friends and coworkers marry, and the workout I get trying to keep my jaw from hitting the floor at the cost of weddings today is enough that I can skip the bike and fat ass it on the couch for then night.
And I’ll be honest — it’s not 100 percent incredulity — there’s a smidgen of “Damn I wish I had thought of that” mixed in. Who doesn’t like custom shakes and doughnut walls and elevated cuisine in a back-40 barn that housed pigs two months ago but now rents for $8,000 a night? (I mean this. I am banking on custom shakes for one of my kids’ weddings.)
And to the best of my knowledge, these love stories with an over-the-top matrimony chapter are all grounded in a solid foundation. They’re not marrying for a kickass party. They’re doing it because they love each other.
(Buckle in for a short “back in the day” rant.)
It’s just that it seems that what feels like yesterday but really is eons ago, expressions of love weren’t graded on a curve or compared to similar events posted on YouTube — from lip dub proposals and elaborately choreographed wedding dances to high school antics like fireworks-themed promposals. I mean, c’mon. If your sophomore HoCo date is asking you to the dance in the middle of a flower-petal installation at halftime at the football game, what’s your fiance going to have to do to top that?
It seems, at least for now, the trend of fantabulous displays of affection has skipped over my house and my kids. So much so if my daughter admitted to holding hands with her boyfriend in public it’s possible I may faint on the spot. That is just.not.her.thing. And I am OK with this, even though if my husband reads this he may beg to differ. Because I do give him a hard time about being more affectionate.
Mostly in jest. Maybe a little teeny tiny bit because I am looking for attention. A little.
Really, though, if someone were to ask me about my impressions on love and marriage, and mine in particular, these first 27 years (I was a child bride), I would say this: It’s crazy. And it’s the little things.
Committing yourself to one person for the rest of your life really is a leap in faith. Unless you are in your 80s. Because we all grow. We all change. Our tastes and interests become more refined. Or simpler. Jumping the broom with someone in hopes of forever love is taking a chance and crossing your fingers that 5, 10, 15 and 50 years later, you’ll still find common ground you can stand on together.
From a logical stand point, that’s crazy. Marriage is a rollercoaster that never comes to a complete stop to let off passengers and let others on. Your emergency brake usually involves a lawyer. Then there’s the crazy that kids bring. Or job changes and relocations. Or when certain people (read: me) go off and rescue a dog without really thinking things through. All of this is simply an X factor on your wedding day.
For me, I lean on my god friend Gratitude to get me through the occasional frustrating time or two (Roof over my head / Job/ Food on the table /Companionship) and have long since learned to appreciate the little things. Grandiose gestures are always welcome (dessert carts are never a bad idea) but the love devil is in the details. Things like:
- Rolling over at night when asked, without complaint.
- Fixing a deck.
- Picking up groceries on the way home from the office after a long day.
- Walking the dog when you can’t.
- Playing the part of team coordinator to save a few bucks in travel soccer.
- Grabbing an extra water out of the fridge.
- Taking a kid to an early morning practice.
- Laughing at the same funny movies most of the time.
- Driving the hand-me-down car when you buy a new one.
- Picking up a favorite flavor of ice cream.
- Doing the dishes. (This by the way, gentlemen, is HUGE. So many bonus points left on the table, really.)
- Being the one to get up and turn off the alarm every day.
- Agreeing to see a chick flick. Or not getting cheesed over the fact if you don’t, your partner is going out with friends instead of you to see it.
- Buying crickets for the three gekkos that followed your son home school one summer.
- Not judging questionable TV habits. (See, some tastes refine over time, or get simpler, or really just head straight for the gutter.)
- Texting “I love you” in the middle of a busy busy day.
- Sharing a bowl of popcorn.
- Opening a bottle of wine.
- Holding hands at the movies.
- Making sure the gas tank is always full.
There are care-free days in long-term relationships. But the scales are more likely to tip toward challenging ones as the years pass. Marriage is a team effort. And it’s not especially easy. And for some, the walk away from one is the best possible choice. That’s why I am so incredibly grateful that one of my greatest pieces of me up to now is that partnership with my husband. We may be crazy, but we are still in love. He’s just so good at the little things.
Today’s recommendation: To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal. It’s just a really beautiful love story.