You Had Me at, “Hello”
My parents just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Mike & I are about to celebrate our 34th. 34 is nothing compared to 60, but I’ve learned a lot from my parents. Their marriage has been a huge example to me, and here’s what I’ve learned from them.
Real life is not like the movies. Your knight in shining armor will have a few dents and tarnishes. That’s okay, though, because that princess you pretend to be has a few warts as well. People get sick. They throw up. Someone has to mop a forehead or hold back hair. That’s real life. Real life is not a fairy tale. Real life takes work. Not just a day or a week or a month of work. It’s full time, 24/7, 365 days a year (366 on leap years) of work. When things are going well, you can’t take a break. If you do something spectacular in your marriage, you can’t then rest on your laurels. If your spouse has a bad day, you can’t say, “Well, I did my part today!” No. If the other half of your marriage is sick or depressed or having a bad day, you can’t do just your part. You have to hold the line and do their part as well. Because marriage isn’t 50/50. When you’re partners, you have to pick up the slack if the other can’t do his or her share. Is it fair? No. It isn’t. But one day, when you’re not doing your fair share and your spouse picks up the slack, you’ll understand.
Marriage isn’t about the grand gestures. Marriage is about who wakes up with the baby at 2 a.m. It’s about who does the dishes even when you didn’t dirty them just because they need to be done. It’s about who does the laundry for the 100th time because you need clean clothes. It’s not about chore charts. It’s not about what’s fair. It’s not about whose turn it is. It’s all about love.
Love is the grand gesture. Love makes you wash the dishes even though you didn’t dirty them. Love causes you to dust the furniture or feed the baby or pick up the toys because it needs to happen. Love causes you to cook breakfast or lunch or dinner because you want your spouse to have a healthy meal. Love is about forgiving and it’s about giving. Love doesn’t demand; love gives. And when the other half of your partnership can’t give their part, you give a little more. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is forever. Will you want to strangle you spouse sometimes? Of course. And they’ll probably have fantasies of smothering you with a pillow. But you won’t do either of those. Because of love, you’ll endure. And you’ll grow old together and realize this is the grand gesture – a life of love and enduring and sacrifice. And here you are – at 80 or 90 or older – with kids and grands and great grands – but all that matters is that one that you committed your life to 34 or 60 0r 70 years before – and you realize that that one person is still the one you love more than anyone in the world. More than parents or kids or siblings or friends. He or she is that one person in the world with whom you share a bond that will last for eternity. That’s the fairy tale, my friends. That’s the “happily ever after.” Knowing that you gave everything to help make that one that you love the best that he or she can be. That’s love.