I heard the most beautifully resolute sentence the other night. A man was talking to me and Mr. H about his wife, and he said: “We’re still our favorite people.”
I loved this. It stuck to my heart like emotional glue.
The next day a different man shared his upcoming ten-year anniversary plans with us. He was surprising his wife (and mother of three) with a getaway. That trip wasn’t to the usual romantic destination you might expect, on some white sand beach or big city with reservation-only restaurants. It was Oklahoma City, where they got married.
I loved this too. It stuck to my heart like emotional glue.
I guess I was moved by how much both of these men loved their wives. And, how very real it was. When people have been married for a long time, there is a different level of life experience.
This experience shows in the tears that surface as they talk about their husband or wife when they’re not around. It lives in their smile wrinkles and forehead lines, born from sharing financial stress and inside jokes together over the years. You can hear it too…in the way they say each other’s names. Somehow, it’s different than the way anybody else says them.
The love is there, but they don’t speak openly about it. Because they don’t have to anymore.
I used to say “we’re a good team” when I talked about being married. After you make it past the five-year mark you’re allowed to say silly, sentimental things like that. After the 10-year milestone happened for me and Mr. H, I realized that teamwork isn’t quite it.
Marriage is a partnership. That may seem plain or pragmatic, but there’s really no other way to describe it.
Disagreements will happen for any married couple, no matter how strong the relationship is. Sometimes they are substantial, like an identity crisis that shakes up a comfortable evening or jealousy that flares up from deep-rooted passion.
Or, the disagreement is wildly insignificant but necessary, like: Why am I the one always taking out the trash? I don’t remember signing up for this shit. Was it in fine print in the marriage contract? How did this happen?
If anyone has seen The Break-Up before, there is a really great domestic spat scene where—not for the first time—she’s pissed that he won’t do the dishes. She says: “I want you to want to do the dishes.” He says: “Why would I want to do the dishes?”
Point taken. And, Mr. H and I quote this part of the movie all the time.
So, yeah. Disagreements will happen.
Still, there is this unspoken agreement that binds you to one another. No, that agreement isn’t the marriage contract that was signed long ago, collecting dust in some cardboard file box in the closet. It’s that special energy that draws two people together for a long hug after a hard day, instead of away from each other to be alone in different rooms.
It’s an agreement that says: I’m here for you and none of this other bullshit matters.
Seems so rare when I meet other couples that embody this caliber of love. And I can’t help but latch onto these moments. Especially when these moments are so well-timed, holding up a mirror to our own lives that we must stop and look into.
Mr. H and I are celebrating lucky number 13 this week. I can still say that after all of these years through:
- Our Vegas wedding when a drunken minister married us as “Ugh” and “Whitney.”
- Two cross-country moves with two screaming cats.
- My grandmother’s funeral in Texas.
- Both of our mothers’ breast cancer recoveries.
- Both of our fathers’ heart attacks recoveries.
- That Saturday night when I thought I was going to lose you in the emergency room.
- Incoming grey hairs (you call them beauty streaks, which I love so much).
- My questionable cooking and weird smoothies that you eat and drink anyway.
- Running a business together for over a year without killing each other.
- Credit card debt, student loans, absurd hospital bills, and other financial fuckery.
- Accidentally drinking water in Cuba, with one bathroom then a long plane ride home.
- Construction right outside our apartment at 7am, sometimes 6:30am.
- Snoring (you)—drooling, punching, kicking, screaming, sleepwalking / running (all me).
- And, cleaning up cat puke on a weekly basis.
…we’re still our favorite people.