Friday night, pizza night, sitting on the front porch, twilight wine sipping, watching the kids play, fingers tangled together night.
We haven’t spoken much since he got home from work, the noise and the constant and the needs and the dinner and the diapers and the “Daddy! Look!” demanding our attention. We’ve caught eyes across the room; he got a phone call while I was cooking dinner but I needed to open the oven and the baby was right there so I placed her in his arms as he cradled the phone with his shoulder. We communicated wordlessly, as a couple that is eleven years into marriage can, to get food on the table and young needs met and little hearts to feel heard as they each take turns telling toddler-sized jokes and they one-up the other. I look at him and he winks at me and we laugh at them.
And we feed the three and somewhere in between it all we eat too and once all three are asleep we decide to have a Friday night date at home: we’ll put in a movie, make some drinks, eat some chips & guac.
We get about twenty minutes into the movie and I can hear his breath begin to change. He adjusts the pillow, using my legs as support, and falls asleep at 8:15pm. My lower half begins to go numb but my foot is right up against his chest and I can feel his heart beating through my toes and I don’t want to miss this so I let my feet fall asleep to his drumbeat.
We laugh sometimes about how constant it all is, how unending it all is, how exhausted we are.
And sometimes we just fall asleep on the couch at 8:15pm on a Friday night, my legs as his pillow.
We’re in a heap on the couch just so tired, but I breathe it all in deep- the wildness and the mess and the clutter and the constant but also the magic- remembering that joy can show up even right here, in our mess, this most unlikely place, breathing life into this ordinary love.
I look at him on the couch to the mess in the kitchen to the monitor helping us keep watch over our baby and smile: How did we get here?
How did we get here, tangled up on the couch, wine in a glass, three littles upstairs, taking all of our steps together- even the hard ones? Away from the days of trying to impress, trying to say the right thing, wear the right outfit, know the best answer, have the best one-liner, easily wounded out of insecure love? Towards each other, towards Jesus, towards the rest-of-my-days, everyday ordinary feisty love?
Between the moment when we stood together on a twilight-lit evening on the third day of June and this one right here at 8:15 on a Friday there have certainly been the extraordinary moments- the ones you relive with each other, tell your friends, tuck into your back pocket when called upon to tell a story of when you were brave or funny or courageous or crazy.
Eleven years of good and hard and heart-breaking and life-giving and one million moments of everyday ordinary shared between us and I have learned marriage is built on so much more than the highlight reel. We don’t leap from mountaintop to mountaintop together, notching off the lifetime experiences one after the other.
Those tell some of the story. But they don’t get to tell the whole story because love isn’t built on the mountaintop. Love is built in the everyday comfortable, the everyday work. Love is built in the snapshot in the kitchen as we pause to listen- actually listen- about the day. Love is built when he walks up behind me as I cook and wraps his arms around me, little girls squealing. Love is built in the intentional service, making the bed, filling up the tank, picking up and laying your life down. Love is built in the noticing, the thanking, the I see you, the I believe you can do this.
Because marriage is written one word at a time, taken one step at a time, built one moment at a time- the mundane as much as the extraordinary ones. We take a single step but always together, sometimes through the valleys and sometimes at the life-changing peaks and sometimes just through the Wednesday dinnertime chaos and the Saturday morning walks and watching a movie together and falling asleep without even meaning to.
It’s written in the little by little, towards each other as every minute taps on. We did it in the early mornings and the late nights, the decisions made together as a team- the big ones as much as the small ones. The Netflix binge watching and the dressed up fancy nights out and the Friday night pizza and the Saturday morning pancakes.
Marriage is established in the big moment, the forever I do, but it is formed in the daily yes.
Marriage is commissioned in the covenant promise, but it is cemented in the everyday ordinary we end up walking side by side.
Love is more than the giddy feeling coursing through our veins when we said I do, love is the day-in day-out creation breathed to live through standing in the kitchen, him wrapping his arms around me as the baby crawls circles around and through our legs. Love is front porch sitting and dream chasing and sweeping the kitchen floor and lingering over a kiss. Love is looking me in the eyes as we talk. Love is the daily choice, the fun and the memories and breathing him in deep at the end of a long day.
Yes, life is hard.
But our love is built strong.
And he falls asleep next to me at 8:15 on a Friday.
But he’s next to me, as long as we both shall live.