Our wedding was planned for Memorial Day weekend 2011, but in early March we decided to make it official a little bit early. We would still have our planned celebration in May, with the food, the guests, my gown. March 18 would be low key — at the courthouse in my hometown, with just our closest family nearby.
I dressed up in a hot pink sundress, mainly because we had our engagement pictures planned for after the courthouse ceremony. By the time we arrived at that cold March photo shoot, we weren’t engaged anymore. The state of Indiana had put its stamp of approval on a marriage certificate that both of our moms had signed as witnesses.
We lived apart for the first two months of the marriage, with me wrapping up my work project in Chicago and you working in the much warmer, sunny spot we’d spend the first half-decade of our marriage.
Driving “home” finally for the first time over the Pineda Causeway close to midnight — after 18 hours in a car with my dad and three-year-old — I looked out at the black water of the Intracoastal Waterway around me. At the highest point of the second causeway bridge, I could see the sparkling lights of homes and businesses on the island I was entering, the place where you were waiting. I started to get excited, and nervous. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t know very much about my new home. How long would we live here? Where would our kids go to school if we stayed? Would we find a favorite breakfast spot? Could we live together with three children under the age of 5 and survive it?
A summer living by the beach has morphed into nearly 5 years now. Those three kids are all school-age now, and two more little ones have squeezed into our home and hearts. The once foreign community of my fears is now the place where our friends live, where our kids go to school, and our landing place as a family after every individual journey. Sometimes at night when I’m heading over those same bridges toward those sparkling island lights I think about the first time I drove it. What a journey that was – and what a marvelous adventure it continues to be, every day.
Our culture likes to celebrate longevity in marriage. 25 years. 40 years. 50 years+. Now that I’m part of that matrimony club, I fully back those celebrations because it is hard work. What I’ve realized though is that we don’t do enough celebrating of the smaller marriage milestones and they’re really important too. The reason it’s such an accomplishment to reach double digits in a marriage is because the early years are tough. Money is tighter. The future is still really foggy. And good golly, raising kids is hard.
As parents, we throw around stats about how important those first 5 years are in the development of our kids. First steps. First words. The first time they do something that makes us stop and say “Wow, that’s a real human being right there.” There are so many exciting moments in those first 5 years that will later become mundane, routine parts of who these children are — but they are such important milestones.
The same can really be said for the early years of our marriages. They’re exciting, and rickety at times. They are full of firsts and development. More than anything, those early marriage years are a time of intense learning, and not just about the person who is living his or her life alongside us. We are learning about who we are too. If we’ve gotten lucky, the person we chose will help us feel comfortable being the best, authentic version of ourselves. If we’re smart, we’ll return the favor.
So on this day, the first day of our sixth year of being married, I celebrate us and all we’ve accomplished since tying the knot in that courthouse far, far away. There are some who would say we ain’t seen nothin’ yet and maybe that’s true. But I’m ready for more bridges to cross, more challenges to overcome, more milestones to celebrate — if you will be there too.
Happy Anniversary, Brant. Thank you for being a caring, supportive, attentive husband. I love you. Here’s to 50+ more years together.