I’m posting this letter I wrote to Garreth for our 18th anniversary for two reasons. First, my sister loves when I write about my marriage. Second, I believe that it will help change the narrative about raising a child with a disability and getting divorced. I’ve written before about how My Husband is not Romantic but that he Pinky Swears that he loves me.
You asked me one night as we locked fingers in bed if I’d marry you all over again. I was already half asleep, this night before our 18th anniversary, and I said something quite circular and confusing even to me. I hope I told you I was glad I married you, but I think I may have also said it was better that I knew so little at the time. You figured I wouldn’t marry you if I knew then what I know now. There could be some truth to that. I’m a thinker and I like to make informed decisions. Had we taken those personality tests before we got married we never would have made it to the altar. According to scientific research, we’re not a match. The whole commitment, marriage, trust thing freaked me out 18 years ago. In this case, I’m glad I listened to all of my friends who instructed me to stop analyzing and just say yes. I’m thankful I got out of my own way. It turns out that the Indigo Girls knew the truth when they sang, “The steel bars between me and a promise suddenly bend with ease; the closer I’m bound in love to you, the closer I am to free.” Loving you freed me from all of that fear and insecurity that almost kept me away.
We’re not the Adventurous couple or even the Romantic one. We’re not the Best Friends couple who would totally have a blast together even if we weren’t married. I hate to think of us as the Survives Hard Things couple, because really, what a drag, even if it is a little bit true. We’re just us, without a tidy label. We’ve changed and grown, oh my word how we’ve grown. Remember when I was always right? Remember when you didn’t have words? Remember when I could hold a grudge like nobody’s business? Remember when I had to verbally process everything and you didn’t want to process anything? Over time, we really have met in the middle, a comfortable place. I wait patiently and listen better; you’ve called me your safe place and share more; we’ve both opened windows of grace.
I love that you love me most in that early morning hour; how you never forget to spoon me before you leave for work and tell me you love me even though I’m asleep. I love that you recently told me that those are the moments you remind yourself not to take us for granted. You got me all fired up when you told you me had Big Thoughts about Big Issues and I was ready to dig in but you just wanted to give me a preface to some conversation that may happen in the future. We’re different that way. You’ll share when you’re ready and you’ll expect all of the fervor I’ll bring. I love that you text me when I’m away from you and tell me why you love me, or remind me of some sweet or silly moment from our past, knowing I probably won’t text you back because I don’t have a real phone. I love that the things that drive me bonkers about you, because honestly they’re still there, are less significant than all of the small, simple, moment by moment ways we love each other.
Maybe we’re the Chooses Love couple. I woke up sulking this morning because of our interaction last night, thinking about all of the words I would choose to communicate with you. You emailed me and asked me out on a date. Sometimes Choosing Love is simple. I learned that from you. When it’s challenging, when it’s boring, when our needs conflict, when we’re empty; Choosing Love is always best. We’re Solid, and Longevity matters. This making of a family, this seeing into each other, the showing up, the hard work, the laughing at I don’t even know what that was the other night that made Liam have to shush us; we’re building something. Sometimes we freak out when we look ahead; what will we be without our children and how will we spend time together? We’re really not the kind of people who need to go forth on a grand adventure. I’ll be happy sitting in your garden drinking a cold beer while you harvest the tomatoes before we make salsa and decide how many jalepenos to put in before we sit down together to eat nachos and talk about nothing…which is everything, really.
I love you. Pinky Swear.