I’ve never been a big fan of marriage.
OK, that’s not really true. I think marriage is awesome. But for me, personally, marriage is, well, hard.
I’m the introvert to end all introverts. “Alone” is my middle name. So as much as I adore my husband and can’t say enough about the wonderful things I think both the legal contract as well as the covenant before God do for individuals, society, and children*, sharing daily space with someone is a whole other story.
I struggle with this a lot, and bless my husband’s heart, he puts up with me anyway.
Over the last couple of weeks, life’s been a little tough for us. We’ve had whooping cough, possible mono, colds, and, of course, work + kids. Throughout all this, my husband has remained perfectly (inexplicably frustratingly) healthy. He’s made me bad food (sorry, sweetie), changed even more diapers than normal, and pretty much rearranged his entire schedule to be home to put the baby down for his nap so I don’t have to.
Sweet, huh? But that’s nothing new. He’s always been that kind of guy.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, after a 12-hour work day for him and a long kid day for me, I saw my husband standing in the living room, vulnerable and crumpled in his shirtsleeves, tired and leaning on a doorframe… smiling. Laughing at some absurdly bad joke of mine, loving me despite my use of the word “shirtsleeves” and having worn the same pajama pants for 14 days in a row.
After sharing a tired hug, I said good night and headed down the stairs to go to bed while he stayed up with the baby.
On about step three it hit me: I love marriage.
I love that my husband and I joke in the middle of overwhelming fatigue, the way we start singing Journey in unison when the baby cries, our code words and wiggled eyebrows in social gatherings, and the fact that no matter how bad the days get, we know that we have to keep sharing space, keep singing Journey, keep smiling for the kids. And eventually, the bad days are forgotten and we dance in the kitchen to songs my husband doesn’t like but knows I do, while the kids try to cut in because they just can’t stand not to share in the love.
Valentine’s Day isn’t really a day to celebrate marriage. At least not marriage with kids. It’s about too-expensive roses, fattening chocolate, and waiting three hours on a table at an overcrowded restaurant with a mediocre fixed menu while the teenaged babysitter racks up the big bucks and goes through the medicine cabinet.
Instead, it’s the remaining 364 days out of the year that are about celebrating marriage. The bad days, the even worse days, and the grooves worn in the floor from dancing the same steps, day in, day out, laughing at it all, and knowing the person who you sometimes can’t stand is someone you will always love.
* I’m going to ignore the fact here that, historically, the structure of the legal contract was not necessarily a good thing for women.