As of the publishing of this piece, my wife and I will have been married for 11 years. There’s no specific significance to the number – no one marks the 11th the way they mark the 25th or whatever.
But it is still significant, simply because it is happening.
A moment of honesty. If you’d asked me 10 years ago if I thought I’d still be married, I’d have said no.
This isn’t because I’d fallen out of love with Agent Bun. It’s simply because I wasn’t a person who thought that far down the road. It’s something I learned how to do and need to be better about still.
In other words, I had a ridiculously short-term view of what marriage was going to ask of me.
Marriage is not bliss. It’s a promise to stick it out through the tougher moments.
It requires effort. It requires accepting that there will be days when you think the other person is just ridiculously thoughtless about what you want. It requires realizing that there are days when you are ridiculously thoughtless, and too dumb to see it.
Marriage between a man and a woman literally collides two different ways of thinking and two different approaches to problems. Then it tells you that you’re just going to have to suck it up and deal when you hit a rough spot.
It commands that you consider the other person’s needs and desires as your default position. That’s why it’s more than being roommates, or friends, or even partners.
That part was a major difficulty for me.
You see, I was a selfish dude. I got away with it. I really liked my stuff and I liked owning things. I bought things at a whim because it was the neat new toy; owning the (newly-remastered) Whatever Edition™ of the thing that you bought three times before was the coolest.
In short, I hadn’t really grown up. My material possessions were paramount to my happiness. After all, how could I live without the new version of that Darth Vader action figure?
I’ll also admit that “falling” for someone was always the great joy for me in relationships. Sticking with someone was never really my game. Someone else asking me to consider their feelings before my own was usually the first death knell.
Agent Bun was the exception and I was willing to declare it to the world.
When I married Agent Bun, I hadn’t really thought through all those things. I was simply in love, thought I was a very lucky guy to land a woman, and the rest would work itself out.
I didn’t realize at the time that I’d sworn that whatever emotional scars I might get, however she might change over time, and whatever I had to compromise, I’d put my head down and stick it out.
Of course, so did she. That’s the key part.
I won’t ever lie to my kids and tell them that marriage to their mother is easy. They will get no storybook spin on events. No point-of-view dodges like Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi.*
I am a work-in-progress. I marvel at those who insist “people don’t change.” Of course they do; marry someone and you’ll find out that’s the case.
You just have to pick the right person and bet that the changes will be something with which you both can keep up.
I’m happy every day that we can. I’m happier every day that we do!
* She also had to accept that I work Star Wars references into everything.