Some days I wish I was one of those people who kept personal information private instead of giving in to some insane urge to share anything and everything with anyone who will come close enough to listen.
Today is one of those days.
If I was one of those people with a good sense of proprietary and common decency, I could come here this morning and tell you all that today is my 10th wedding anniversary. I would write something sappy and romantic about my husband and the ties that bind and the joys of spending year after year with your high school sweetheart. You would all be terribly impressed with our ability to overcome the odds and you would congratulate us and wish us many more happy years. I could smile politely and try not to appear smug as I shared my marital success with the world.
If only I didn’t have such a big damn mouth.
Instead, I find myself almost embarrassed to celebrate this milestone.
Ten years ago today, Jared and I were married in a little church in Parkersburg, Iowa. We have, technically, been married for ten years. And while that sounds like a lot, like something to be proud of – especially considering today’s divorce statistics – I can’t help but wonder if it still counts as ten years if you kicked your husband out of the house for a month.
Do you get to celebrate ten years of marriage when you have spent so much of that time hurting one another? Is it fair to rejoice on the anniversary of exchanging vows when you have, between the two of you, trampled on damn near every one of them at some point?
It’s hard to feel proud or smug today. Instead, I find that I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
This could have all turned out so differently. If it hadn’t been for marriage counseling, there is no way we would be where we are today. No. Way. And where we are is so completely different, so much better, than what I imagined for myself and for us ten years ago.
Ten years ago I was convinced that the key to our happiness was holding each other up. I would take care of him and he would take care of me and in the process, we would both end up well cared for. Love, I was certain, could conquer all. Well – love and a whole lot of willpower, maybe.
I was an idiot ten years ago. What I didn’t know then was that we were doing damn near everything wrong. We had no clue how to even begin communicating properly. We were totally ill equipped for everything that life would throw at us, both small and large. We survived the first several years of our marriage on little more than luck and determination and a stubborn refusal to admit that maybe we’d been wrong.
I look at who we are now, both separately and together, and the tools that we’ve gained in the last several months, and I wonder how in the hell we ever managed to survive before. I have no idea how we’ve managed to come this far.
But I’m so, so grateful that we have.
The man I’m married to now is my partner in every way. He is strong and capable and wise and the greatest support system that any woman – any person – could dare to ask for. He has the same pure heart that he had ten years ago, but now he also has an amazing ability to communicate in a way that is open and honest and brave. He is relentless in his pursuit of a constant connection between the two of us. He works every single day to make things better – both himself and his relationship with me.
I am not proud of what we have done to each other over the last ten years, but I am exceedingly proud to be married to this man today. I am proud and relieved and grateful for what we have managed to build together in the last six months.
We celebrated our anniversary with two of our closest friends this past weekend at EPCOT. We ate and drank our way through every single country, and we laughed and held hands and used our words to tell each other when the other person accidentally said something that rubbed one of us the wrong way – because, yes, that still happens, even on special anniversary trips. We exchanged gifts days ago, because neither one of us has ever been able to hold off on gift giving.
He bought me a massage table, which may sound silly unless you know me and you know the thing I love most in the world is a really good massage. And if you know me, you also know that I have major guilt issues about asking someone to do something nice for me – and so he also made me coupon cards for “45 minute, no strings attached, fully body massages”, and he gave me a hand held hole puncher to make it official like and adorable and seriously lady, please do not feel bad about asking me because LOOK! YOU HAVE COUPONS!
Last night I heard strange noises coming from the garage – dinging and banging and ting! ting! type noises. When I asked him what the hell he was doing, he told me to hush up and stop asking questions. This morning, he woke me up with this:
The banging I heard was him cutting out the American Heart Association heart from the back of a can of Diet Coke. This was the closest he could come to tin, which, as he informed me this morning, is the “traditional” gift for the ten year wedding anniversary. When I oohed and ahhed and swooned, he laughed off his romantic gesture by informing me that the “contemporary” gift for the ten year wedding anniversary is diamonds.
I think I prefer my tin.
And what did I give him?
Well, Jared doesn’t ask for much. An occasional slap on the ass and kiss with some tongue and he’s basically a happy guy. I am, without a doubt, the needy one in this relationship. Maintaining my happiness and sense of well being requires constant time and attention and pampering and traveling and dear Lord we spend a lot of money on keeping me satisfied. But Jared? Jared doesn’t ask for much. In fact, for the last two years, there has only been one thing that Jared has consistently said he wanted.
I hate motorcycles. Or rather, I hate the idea of my husband on a motorcycle. I don’t mind hopping on the back of one now and then for a quick little joy ride, and I certainly have no problem with your husband on a motorcycle, but I am terrified at the idea of my husband hurtling down the road with nothing but nothing between him and the pavement.
And yet, he has been yearning for a motorcycle for years now. He went so far as to spend a weekend this summer getting his motorcycle license, even though he knew the chances of us ever buying one were slim to none. While I silently hoped he would get over it, he took the only steps he could at the time to make his dreams a reality.
As our anniversary approached, I tried to think of something, anything that might be an appropriate sign of my love and affection and gratitude to this man. Anything but the one thing in the world that I knew he wanted.
But – *sigh* – Jared doesn’t ask for much.
Unfortunately, the one thing Jared does ask for is expensive as hell. And so, no, I didn’t go out and buy him a motorcycle for our anniversary.
I did, however, open a savings account specifically for the purpose of saving enough money for him to buy a motorcycle as soon as humanly possible. I set up an automatic withdrawal from our checking account that will deposit money into that account each month. At least someday, I thought, he’ll get his bike.
And then I did our taxes. And lo and behold, we actually got a little bit of a refund. And so I promised to put every dime of that refund towards his motorcycle fund.
And then, lo, I found out that we had a little more money in an old savings account than I had thought, and so I put that money towards his motorcycle fund.
Today we have about half of what he needs in that account, but only because our refund hasn’t come in yet. In a few days, Uncle Sam will push his balance up to about 90% of what he has said he would want to spend on “just a little motorcycle, nothing huge”. Over the next few months, we’ll continue to put money into that account until, finally, I am able to give my husband back at least a little bit of what he has given me over the years.
*Big Deep Breath*
And this where I do something that I have never, ever done on this blog before:
Ask for money.
Yes, I’ve asked for contributions for other people, but those were worthy causes. And yes, I have ads on this site, so technically I make some money from you people all the damn time. But I’ve never been one to put up a “tip jar” or flat out ask you to help pay for something because, quite frankly, as long as I’ve been able to keep myself in shoes and my children fed, there’s no good damn reason to ask you to dig into your wallet for me.
I’ve put a widget in my sidebar where you can, if you are so inclined, donate to Jared’s motorcycle fund. As I have outlined in painstaking detail here, he will get a motorcycle whether anyone else contributes or not. But, well, if anyone would like to throw a few dollars our way, he may get it sooner or he may get a nicer one or he may, I don’t know, have money left over to buy a helmet.
I hope it goes without saying that I don’t expect anything from any of you and I will love you all the exact same amount as I do right now no matter what (TOTALLY A LIE! I will not be able to help loving you a little bit more if you give us cash!) and that oh my God this is way more embarrassing than blogging about vaginas or marital problems or depression, and yet, still, I am DETERMINED to go through with it because, well –
I made the man wear a bonnet for this blog once.
And, um, er
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!