So, You Want To Be Married?

Today, I walked past the church where my husband and I got married almost three years ago. The church is beautiful and I fell in love with it the moment I stumbled upon it walking home from work one evening in 2012. I had to get married there. And we did. I sometimes walk past it just to be nostalgic and mushy and today one of those days. It looked the same, except, one door was open. Typically I walk by in the early morning or late evening during the weekday and the doors are closed. But not today. It seemed to be inviting me in. I said to the open door jokingly, “What? You want me to get married again?” Joke or not, truth is, I do get married again. Everyday. 

When we were planning our wedding we were excited and giddy. We would tell couples who had been married for 10 plus years that we were getting married and I remember this look they all gave. It was a mix of joy, hope, “poor baby”, “who left the milk out?”, and indifference all rolled into one. I didn’t understand it then but now I do. As a mother for almost ten years now, it’s the same look I give childless people when they share their “tips” on how to be a good parent. Chile, THE DOOR.

And my issue is this: 

As married people, we say “I am Married.” Like a title, a descriptor. It’s really cute to say when you first become married. You feel proud. Accomplished. After a couple of years though, I sort of cringe when I say it because I feel like marriage is not something I am, it’s something that I’m actively doing everyday. Working on it. Getting better at it. Getting stronger in it. Yeah, you’re married. But are you in a marriage?

“If I have to pick up your clothes from the floor one more time I will die.”

“You wait until the last minute to tell me we have to do something. What’s up with that?”

Those are both things that my husband and I have said to one another in the past week. The first one is mine. Couldn’t you tell? DRAMATIC! The second is his. We get on each others nerve. But if you ask either one of us, right after we said these statements, if we’d want to do marriage with any one else we’d both answer “Not a chance.”

All married couples have aspects of marriage that they do really well. Some are great at getting one-on-one time in with one another, or running a business together, meeting financial goals, or planning family activities. Me and my husband are excellent communicators. We kick all categories of ass in communication. Our disagreements are level headed, inclusive sessions of seeking understanding. We don’t get petty and hurtful. 

That right there? That’s not us. But what was brought to my attention through my church family recently is that evil will use what you so believe in against you in an attempt to get you to fail (like Satan tempted Jesus). Take us for example: we are so good at communicating and understanding each other that sometimes we forget to verbally do it! Isn’t that a trip? We just think the other gets it and understands but they may not. We still have to actually communicate. Because if we don’t, other things will start doing it for us. When other things in this world like Facebook, “friends”, and work start doing our marriage for us we are bound to fail.

The game changes constantly so it’s impossible to just BE married. You have to DO it daily. You have to revive it, rebirth it, and readjust it constantly as your marriage grows and changes. 

I choose to forgive everyday. I choose to work on getting to know him more everyday. I choose to get better at being a companion. And it’s work, but it’s not hard work. It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever had to do because out of all the things I don’t get to choose in life, I got to choose him. And I’m going to be active in my choice. The title isn’t enough for me. Saying “I am Married” is outdated and speaks of a moment in our marriages lifetime. It was born on October 26, 2013 but its toddler now. It’s fearless, independent, emotional, pure, and full of potential. 

So to my soon to be married ladies and gentlemen… Enjoy the wedding. Enjoy checking the “Married” box on your tax forms. Enjoy calling him your husband. Enjoy calling her your wife. But also enjoy getting married again every morning until your marriage is potty trained, graduates high school, and has 401(k). *Disclaimer: This will likely take a lifetime.

“I Do”… Now What?

My house was a complete wreck. Clothes strewn across the floor. Take-out boxes piled haphazardly on one another. Every closet door in the house was thrown open and I couldn’t see the bottom of my kitchen sink. Ahhhh, just the way we left it. Home sweet home. My new husband and I looked at the mess, cleared out a space on the bed, and laid down. We were home.

A week long honeymoon in Cancun seemed like it wasn’t enough but just enough at the same time. It left us with beautiful memories and we vowed to make it back soon.

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(Us, sad to be leaving Cancun)

But for now we were back home and ready to get back into the swing of things. Needless to say the mess stayed on site for a few more days before I had the strength to tackle it all. I started in the bedroom. I picked up debris and stuffed it into a trash bag. I made my way lazily through the room for a while before I came across a pile of stuff from my bachelorette party. A frilly pink boa, a huge plastic ring in the shape of a diamond, a heart shaped button that had been strapped to my chest almost two weeks earlier while I twirled and danced my heart away in a foggy ladies club. I instantly laughed at that night. Me and my best girls out on the town to celebrate my last night as a bachelorette. I spotted a picture of all us from that night. Me, seated with my pink boa, all of us surrounded by yummy men oiled up and shirts missing. It was a fantastic night.

I also came across a left over invitation from our wedding. I sat down at the desk looking at all these items. Memories created. An event that changed my life. Before I knew it I had tears streaming down my face. Real tears. I was freaking myself out. What the hell was I crying for?

My husband came into the bedroom to see me, his brand new wife, head bowed crying over a picture of half-naked men. Needless to say, he was confused. He consoled me and asked what was wrong. I’d never been embarrassed around my husband. We’d always spoken about everything. Shared crazy thoughts and ideas. Did silly dances in front of one another. But I found it hard to spit these words out. I thought I’d sound ludicrous, childish, spoiled, and shallow and I didn’t want to say the words. He asked me again what was wrong and I fessed up. I said it.

“I miss the wedding.”

I was afraid to say it because I didn’t want him to think that I was only in our relationship for a wedding. I was in it for him. In it for the way we completed one another so perfectly. In it for how secure and normal he made me feel in a world of chaos. I was definitely in it for him. But I’d said it. I missed the wedding. The realization hit me hard. I said it so many times, “Athena, you are NOT one of this girls.” One of those girls who dreams about the Barbie wedding. All sparkles and frilly crap and prince charming in a tailor made suit at the end of the aisle. I’d never thought of my wedding as a little girl, didn’t dream about it growing up either. I wanted a marriage. A marriage like the one my parents had. Thirty years of solid arguments and love, good behavior and bad manners, honesty and white lies. I wanted that. So, why the hell was I sitting here crying over a pink boa?

First off, to fess up…I missed being the center of attention. My family and friends are the cream of the crop. They dropped everything and made sure to do whatever was needed to make sure our wedding was wonderful. They supported us monetarily, emotionally, physically (I couldn’t squeeze my ass into that dress without at least 4 people), and spiritually. It was beautiful to feel the love that I always knew was there so abundantly out in full force and on steroids. Everyone checked in constantly to see how we were doing. I could be a hypersensitive and super emotional and everyone would say “Oh, I know dear. The stress of it all. I’ll help you with whatever you need.” That wasn’t really life though. It was the life I’d lived for the past year of planning the wedding but it was not even close to real life.

Secondly, what was I supposed to do now? Let’s talk about that year of wedding planning. I slept, ate, and breathed every detail of my wedding. I memorized swatch colors, whizzed around New York City meeting vendors, telling them what I wanted and making them promise they would make it happen “or else”. I picked out complete looks from head to toe for everyone. I booked flights, hotels, make-up, and steam cleanings. I worked at my job from 9AM-5PM and came home and started my second job of Wedding Coordinator from 5PM-2AM (or whenever my butt started to hurt from sitting at my computer for too long). My little six-year-old son became a full blown wedding critic having had to sit with me for hours watching wedding show, after wedding show, after wedding show (he thinks ball gowns are prettier than A-line dresses, who’s he kidding?). It was all consuming and all-encompassing and in a matter of hours it was entirely, completely, and strikingly… over.

I blurted all this out through tears, drops staining the pecks of one naked man in the photo. My husband listening attentively to the whole thing. I was ready for him to call me out. Expose me as the narcissistic fake that I was and question what I was in this for. Him or some damn wedding? He nodded and looked me.

“I kind of miss it too.” He laughed and made his signature “I’m Caught” face. To say I fell deeper in love with him would be an understatement. I laughed and wiped my tears. He helped me throw all that stuff into an old sneaker box and shove it into the top of our closet. And now when I glance up at it on the rare occasions that I’m cleaning, I don’t feel sad anymore. I remember what the whole wedding was all for. It was for someone I could sit in my bedroom with, tear stained and surrounded by adult memorabilia, and laugh with about missing our stupid wedding.

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