Memory is a funny thing. I can barely tell you what I did over the weekend, but I can tell you what I ate for breakfast the day I married my husband, Bobby. Smoked Salmon and a bagel, but only half the bagel because God forbid I have too many carbs the morning of my wedding (so young and so naive- you’re 23, eat the bagel, girl!)
I was so calm that morning, the entire day really. I remember my mom and sister asking me if everything was ok- and it was probably one of the first times in my life I would say yes and truly, confidently mean it. Saying yes to marrying Bobby at 23 was the easiest decision of my life and I could not wait to do it. We had sort of known of each other our whole lives (our families were friends), but only really met 5 years before that. Once we kissed- I was a goner.
Our wedding was perfectly us. We kept it simple and beautiful with as little pomp and circumstance as possible. It had most of our families, all our friends, and two cases of tequila that were gone within the first two hours. We passed around bottles of champagne while “Pasame La Botella” blasted and we danced until 2 AM. It was one of those nights that I still can’t believe we had- let alone get to say was our wedding.
Up to that point we had been living a fairy tale. So when people would say how hard marriage was, and we saw all these divorces- I thought to myself that could never be us. I didn’t get it. I couldn’t begin comprehend how that could happen to a couple. Our marriage could never be one of those falling apart or out of love situations. I would think about our 10 year anniversary and plan where we might go to celebrate, because I knew we would make it there. Not only would we make it there but we would be spilling over in happiness. But then, life happens.
I graduated law school. We moved. We had a baby. My husband was in the midst of starting up a new company, and money would fluctuate. We had student loans. We had bills. We fought. We gained weight. We had a second baby. My husband’s company was doing well. We moved. We had a third baby making it 3- 3 and under. My husband’s business had to tighten up. We had bills. In-laws. We moved. I got sick and was in hospital for 2 weeks. My husband sold a company. We had bills. We moved. Arguments with families. We went to many weddings. We had death. So much death, so close together. We had graduations. We lost weight. I got high blood pressure. We had soccer games. I got a therapist. We made new friends. We hung out with old friends. We traveled. We fought. We went to therapy. We fought more.
Life. It fucks with you. It takes no mercy. There we were on the cusp of 10 years, and we had been through so much. This man that I so clearly knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with that morning 10 years prior eating my bagel and lox- was now the man that I know could hardly be in the same room with without fighting.
What the fairy tales don’t tell you- is staying happy is work. If you don’t work, resentment creeps in. We had some amazing times in those 10 years, but when you’re racing through life trying to get from one place to the next or survive one bump in the road before the next one hits. It’s so easy to just let the resentment linger there. Rather than really work through it, we ignored it. You’re exhausted. Watching the movie or the latest TV show is easier and way more enjoyable than having yet another talk about feelings, and the he said she said of it all. So resentment grows.
We weren’t talking to each other, and when we were talking we definitely weren’t listening. Was it too late for us? We brought our relationship up to the edge and we were either going to jump into the Divorce abyss or we were going to turn around and try to work through it.
I wasn’t calm this time. This time I was an anxiety ridden mess, and I was definitely eating the whole bagel because at 34 I know that you you need the carbs, and also I eat my feelings. This time I didn’t know what to do. I knew I had the lives of three beautiful kids, kids we made together on the line. I had no idea what was going to happen, because I knew that I was being taken for granted and under appreciated, and this was definitely ALL his fault. Right?
Long story short, no. I was not right. I was equally at fault, and equally as ungrateful. Without accepting my part in this- it could never work. We decided to fight for it. We started dating again. We started being honest with what we need from the relationship. We started compromising. We started taking care of ourselves. We started seeing each other again. We love each other. We are best friends. And soon the calm came over me again, because I knew that we had learned that we needed to work for it. Being together was the only option for us right here, right now, and hopefully for always.
We are more grown up at this point in our lives. I mean obviously. What do you really know at 23? Life isn’t a fairytale. If anything it’s more like one of those Wayan’s Brothers’ scary movies. You’re more likely to have to run from some huge scary kid chasing you with poop on his hands than you are going to find a prince to marry and live happily ever after.
I can see now how marriage doesn’t work out. You can’t take it for granted. It’s work. It’s effort. It’s sacrifice. Sometimes people aren’t ready. Sometimes people are too hurt. Sometimes life just hits too hard. I count us as one of the lucky ones. We were able to find our way back to each other in a time where it is sometimes just easier to quit. Sometimes, quitting is the only option because you have just each grown so much, but separately.
I look at our 11 year anniversary now as the the anniversary I am most proud of. It is the year we took ourselves to the brink and learned how to fight for it. I fell in love all over again. We renewed our commitment to each other this year. Maybe not with words, but with action. We grew as individuals and we came back to grow together. I look back at the 23 year old who so confidently and quietly knew what she wanted and smile. She had no idea what was coming, but she walked in giving it everything she had.