You are in love. He got down on one knee with whispered promises and hopes and truth and forever after that.
You go through the magazines, planning burlap and lace and wildflowers everywhere. You stand in the store, finding the dress of your dreams and your mama cried when she saw you. You plan details and bring friends alongside and the colors are the perfect union between gold and taupe.
And the day will be perfect.
Or, it might not be. Some little details might go a little awry.
But that’s okay because it will be you and him and your people in a place celebrating a new beginning that stems from a love story.
And here’s the thing: This new beginning is bigger and more important and more magnificent than one wedding day could ever be. Right now you are building a magical day, but really, you are building a life.
See, today is our 10-year wedding anniversary. It feels like just yesterday I was the one in white and he was the one in a suit. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were the ones pledging I do and I will and forever after that?
But here we stand, 10 years and 3 babies later. 12 moves, 3 deployments, mountain getaways and beach anniversary trips, hurtful hurled words and working to work it out, tears and dark, lonely and full, mountain hikes and riverside picnics, road trips and neighborhood walks, excitement and change and hard jobs and curveballs unseen.
Because in 10 years, a lot of life happens. In our 10 years, we have made the decision to choose love over and over and over again because it is the little decisions that build a life. It seems like a marriage is built on the big moments: the wedding day, the job promotion, the decision not to do something, the move to follow a dream.
But really, what I have learned is that a marriage is built on the million moments within the 3,600 days within our 10 years.
Marriage is commissioned on the I do’s and the I will’s and the forever after promises that are said on the wedding day. But the cornerstone and the building blocks and the archways that form between you and him as you build your life are much simpler than it might first appear. It is in the morning coffee cups, the greetings after work, the questions that follow up a conversation. The building blocks of a marriage are the glance across the room, filling up the gas tank, offering to help. It is built in the daily ringing of the alarm clock and the momentary decision to silence the text message in the middle of a conversation. It is in making the bed and undoing the hurt. It is in leaning in to the hard conversation and moving away from the selfishness.
Small, everyday moments that add up to a life.
The building blocks to our 10-year marriage are as simple and as complex as they appear.
: We talk. A lot. About our days and the weird dreams we had last night and about what steps we are taking to pursue our dreams. About why that conversation was awkward or why we were disengaged. About how we were hurt or how we want to be better. About our kids and about our families and about high school memories. About that phone conversation and the best meal we’ve ever had and about work that day. We’ve learned the day that we stop talking is the day that we venture down the path of really good roommates instead of husband and wife. We talk through it all because he is my person and it is how we stay connected in the busy of life.
: We build memories together. We work to do things together and as a family and to fight against going so many different directions. We share a love of the outdoors so we take our family hiking, to the park, on a walk. We climb mountains, go backpacking, climb rocks. We set time aside to get away, just the two of us. We host parties and go laser-tagging and drink coffee on the back porch. We do life together because it is in building a cache of shared memories that we have a foundation to stand on and experiences to continue to unite us.
: We have our people that know us and love us and want to hear our real. Our people are the ones we can go out with, call up at a moments notice, and talk about how we are doing. We know how vital it is to have outside people that love us no matter how transparent we need to be with them. When our relationship hits those rhythms of hard, sometimes all you want to do is hide in a corner but sometimes all you need is a safe space where you can tell your truth. Having friendships that support our marriage but also support our hearts breathe life into the dark places that need it.
: We support the others passions. We have experienced how being a healthy, whole individual is such a factor on the health of our marriage. When we are weak and needy, we don’t have anything to offer the other. When we are healthy spiritually, emotionally, and physically, we can love the other better. We both stay active and support the other in those efforts, even if that means a little extra time at the gym away from the family. We encourage the other in our individual spiritual journey. Lane worked it out for me to go to a writing conference last month even though that meant juggling a few things around because he knew how important it was for me. He is playing in a summer lacrosse league here in Denver because it is a love of his. Two healthy individuals equals a healthier marriage.
And it is within these rhythms and on these building blocks that we have built our marriage. We’ve had rhythms of dark and hard and where we’re not connecting and have to fight to stay unified. But our rhythms of sweet and good and laughter and togetherness have outweighed the hard and I think that it is because of our million little moments upon which we stand. We have the shared memories to fall back on, we have our people surrounding and supporting us, we have our individual health to offer, we have our big and little conversations.
Our building blocks have come from these little moments that add up to a life together. And I’ll take the comfort and familiarity and unity and fun that we have from building a life together over the excitement of a wedding day any day.
We said I do and I will and forever after that and now we have seen that we can and we have and we still do and we still will.