“Are you nervous or excited?” I asked.
Jared looked up from his half of the admissions packet we were filling out for our new marriage counselor. He shrugged one shoulder and contorted his lips the way he always does when he doesn’t want to talk about something. If he could have disappeared into the brown paisley couch cushions right then and there, he would have.
“Um, well, you know,” he shrugged again, “probably both. I guess.”
“In what way?” I probed, because we’re supposed to be working on being more open. Therefore, I assured myself, I am completely justified in pretending to be oblivious to his discomfort.
“You know, I mean, it’s good, right?” he looked to me for confirmation. “I mean, I want this to, you know, help.”
“Yeah, I know. Me too. I kind of feel like we’ve just been waiting for this part to start.” He nodded. I pushed. “So… what are you nervous about?”
“I don’t know,” his shoulders were no longer shrugging, but only because his body was now permanently molded into a hunch.
I leaned back into the matching brown paisley love seat and said nothing. I waited, trying to let him know with silence that it was OK for him to voice his fears and concerns to me.
That didn’t work.
“What are you afraid will happen?” I asked again, using my most nonchalant and nonjudgmental voice.
“You know,” the hunch shrugged, “what if she says we’re not meant to be? What if she’s like ‘wow, you two are obviously a bad match, I don’t know how you’ve made it this long!’?”
“I don’t think that’s what she’ll say,” I whispered.
I knew I couldn’t say any more than that. I knew, after all, where those doubts he was having came from. I knew it was me that had planted those seeds. I was the one who had given detailed examples of how mismatched our core personalities were, how hopeless it was for either of us to ever presume that we could make a marriage work when we were obviously so incompatible.
So I said nothing, leaned over and squeezed his hand, and finished filling out my half of the paperwork.
This morning, I’m thinking about all of the things I could have said instead of nothing.
I could have told him that…
We have a foundation. It’s shaky and splintered and weak with holes that have eroded over the years, but it’s there. It’s something to build on.
We love each other, personality conflicts be damned.
I should have said…
When I hurt, you hurt. When you hurt, I want to rip apart the cause of your hurt – even if it means tearing into myself. I want to wrap my arms around you while unleashing an angry mob on anyone that would dare do you wrong.
When I’m lost, I search for you. The first anchor I reach for when I need to be retied to the earth is you. And while I’ve reached for you and come up empty handed in the past, it’s still you that I grasp at when my instincts take over.
I love you.
I love your soft heart. I love your inability to hold a grudge. I love that you love music even though you can’t clap to the beat. I love that you don’t give a crap if you’re off the beat, you sing and clap and tap along anyway.
I love that you’re trying really hard not to make inappropriate jokes when we’re having a serious conversation. And I love that even though you’re biting your tongue not to say anything, I can tell the moment that joke pops into your head because your eyes twinkle and the corners of your mouth twitch.
I love that you are great at your job. I love that you are the best at what you do, even if you think that what you do is unimportant and easy. (I hate that you think that what you do is unimportant and easy, by the way.)
I love that you laugh out loud at funny TV. I love that you cried at The Notebook and 8 Seconds. I love that you think The Godfather was one of the greatest movies ever made. And that you think the same thing about Billy Madison.
I love that you think it’s bullshit when people say Metallica sold out.
I love that you explained to Devin that you had a lot of respect for the missionaries who showed up at our door during dinner, even if you’d rather watch Gone With The Wind again than let them in.
I love that you think your ass looks good in those jeans.
I love that yes, in fact, your ass does look good in those jeans.
I love that you cheer for the Packers and Florida State now, just because you like to get swept up in other people’s excitement.
I love you.
We’ve made it this far despite our personality conflicts and our contrasting backgrounds and our deplorable behavior patterns. We’ve made it this far on little more than love and will power and shared history.
I should have told you last night that we have a foundation, and that’s a start. And tonight, we’ll go get ourselves a few new tools so that we can rebuild upon that foundation.
I should have told you last night, and I didn’t. So I’m reminding you now…
I’m all in.