On our wedding day five years ago, I had no way of knowing all the places (both actual and internal) that our marriage would take us. As the sun went down that night, we stood under a live oak tree and made promises and exchanged rings; our family and closest friends surrounded us. Afterward, there was delicious food and hours of dancing, and I was so happy that it made me nervous (as good luck always does).
These five years have gone by quickly, and I'm proud of the life we've built together: one that has given us both space to grow, one where we each honor and celebrate and accept the other.
There was a time in my life when I didn't even believe it was possible to find that kind of relationship, but early in our marriage, we made one simple rule, and I think it's worth sharing here. The rule is: we can't lose our cool at the same time. Such an easy rule right? But there really is an art to it. This goes beyond being a courtesy because, at times, I really do think our physical and mental well being depends on adhering to it.
It can simply mean taking on a small but essential responsibility as an unspoken agreement, like how Brendan will make sure we both get out of bed while I'll ensure we both get to work on time, but the most important use of the rule is during difficult times. Those times when the other person is struggling, and you have to be the one thinking clearly enough to help. There are times that one of us has made the other eat, taken care of everything at home, has put aside their own grief just to let the other heal. There are times each of us has tabled our own concerns and taken care of both of us to ensure the other has the time and space and clarity to write. When an international flight is missed, the rule ensures that at least one of us remains clear minded enough to find a hotel and rebook it. When one of us is a little too drunk, we can take for granted the other will be able get us home (and make sure ibuprofen and water is next to the bed). The rule accepts that anger, depression, self-depreciation, frustration, mistakes, and bad decisions are inevitable. The trick is to simply sometimes be the one to stay out of the muck, so you can pull the other person out.
The other day, we were talking about how marriage is about so much more than love. It's about weathering the experiences that break you with someone else...it's about knowing the other person will be there when you can't remember what to do. Our rule ensures that even when you are at your worst, there's one person who remembers how much they love you at your best.
The day we got engaged, we promised one another that we would always treat each other so well. We've learned what that looks like for us--the honesty, support, and empathy we need to give.
Love has much to teach us. It teaches us about each other and about ourselves. When you think you've learned everything about the other person, you find there is still more to know. There are new adventures and surprises.
My wish for us is that we continue to discover together and to give each other grace. I hope we can embrace life with bravery because we know that we can always turn to each other for strength. I hope our daughter knows that strength is there, in abundance, for her.
Here's to the best five years and all that's to come. Here's to at least one of us always keeping our cool!