My husband and I recently celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary.
Fifteen years went by quickly. Too quickly.
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I was fifteen when I met him. It was not love at first sight. It couldn't have been. We talked on the phone before we ever met face to face, and once we had met in person, our speechlessness and social ineptitude gave rise to a written correspondence that would last for seven years. Through letter after letter, we got to know each other. In person, we were always rather awkward...until one day we weren't.
After a single kiss, a revelation: this is it. He's the one. I had found my person.
We were probably too young when we got married. I was twenty-one. He had just turned twenty-three. We were still kids when we got married (though we didn't think so at the time), but we grew up together. We had to. Actually, we're still growing up together.
When I think back on how headstrong we both could be in those early years of marriage, all I can do is shake my head and count my lucky stars that we endured this phase together and, in the process, learned the art of compromise.
Fifteen years later, the realization that I love him more than ever sometimes surprises me. When I was younger, I would observe couples who had been married for years, and they just seemed so boring to me. They had fallen into routines. Some of them had forgotten their own names and had grown accustomed to identifying each other through their paternal roles, calling each other "mother" and "father." Some barely spoke to each other, rarely touched. They just sort of lived in proximity to each other, inhabiting separate spheres in the same household, moving in revolutions around each other, because they had grown accustomed to doing so. I worried that this kind of marriage was inevitable, and that in time, the passion would cool and the love would be replaced by a silent (dis)regard for each other. It was just the order of things.
I hadn't really seen inside a real marriage, hadn't realized that marriage is what you make of it, and that the dynamic between a couple is so very nuanced and personalized. It's often said that a couple needs to "work" at marriage, but it's not always clear what that actually means. What it most often means is give and take, which can sometimes resemble a tug of war. A couple needs to cultivate a balance between individual independence (a sense of self) and a healthy interdependence (a sense of "us"). This is crazy hard work at times, and almost effortless at others. Rob and I have long since abandoned the tumult of our early years together, and as we have matured, the love just grows and grows. Maybe we have found a way to orbit around each other peaceably, but there's much to be said about the need, from time to time, to collide.