Last week, shortly before our 12th anniversary, Ed and I were watching a movie. I can’t even remember what movie it was – I’m not the best at paying attention to movies. I’m usually working on my laptop.
And in the movie, the main character was nervous because he was planning to ask his girlfriend’s father for permission to propose.
“Why didn’t I ask your dad?” Ed asked.
I looked at him like I generally do when he forgets rather pertinent information. Usually, it works against him that I have the memory of an elephant. In this case, he really did want to know.
“Because he would have said no,” I responded.
“Oh, yes, that’s right,” he said.
And that’s the truth. My dad would have said no. I was 19 when I met Ed. I was 19 when we first told each other we loved each other. I was still 19 when he first suggested we should get married. He was 27.
When the marriage talk got serious – right around my 20th birthday – Ed asked me whether he should seek out my dad’s permission. I immediately said no without thought. Of course he shouldn’t. It’s one thing to just be engaged and announce it. It’s another to ask for permission, be denied, get engaged and then deal with that issue.
At the time, I remember being slightly upset, knowing that my parents would be very opposed to me marrying the person I loved. The right person for me.
Who cares how old I am?! Who cares how old he is?! I love him and I know it’s right!
Once we were engaged, just two months after my 20th birthday, they accepted it – mostly quietly when I was around, likely very vocally to one another when I was not – and eight months after we got engaged, my parents hosted a beautiful wedding that Ed and I will always remember fondly. Our marriage began in a gorgeous place with an amazing party surrounded by hundreds of people who mattered to us.
Now that I’m a mom, I understand. If either of my children came to me at 19 or 20, not even halfway through their sophomore year of college, and told me they were marrying a 28-year-old, I’m not certain I’d react with grace.
But I really did know. I did. Maybe that’s what all 20-year-olds who get married too young say. They know. And then three-quarters turn out to be mistaken.
I did know, though. I wasn’t mistaken. We weren’t mistaken. I finished college. I went to law school. We moved near my family. Ed finished his MBA. I experienced what I wanted to experience. I knew I’d do these things.
I also knew I wasn’t a typical 20-year-old. I’d lived a lot of life up to that point. I’d dealt with a lot that most kids don’t have to deal with. I grew up years and years ahead of my time. And when I know, I know. And I knew.
Twelve years later, I still know.
I just know a lot more.
I know more about what marriage is.
It’s not just the highlight reel. It’s not strictly the amazing moments. Those matter – they matter so much.
The moment you become parents. The incredible vacations. Sharing news that seems too good to be true. Watching your children accomplish things you are certain no other child could accomplish – even though most have or will. The parties in Vegas. The trips around the world.
But marriage is more than the best. It’s also the worst. It’s the hard parts. The lows.
It’s the brokenness of crying when the pain of thinking the baby you’ve never met, but you love desperately, isn’t coming home is too much to hide any longer.
It’s the vulnerability of lying in a heap of sickness on the bathroom floor, knowing you need to go the hospital, but begging for just a little more time in case it gets better.
It’s the fear of the unknown when you decide together it’s time for a huge life change that brings with it no certainty.
It’s the support you give and receive when you’re not sure how much longer you can wait for that call from the pediatric neurologist.
It’s the grace you extend or ask for when ugly things are said that nobody means, but that come out when anger replaces thinking.
And it’s the space between. It’s the mundane or ordinary. It’s the walks to the park, the family movie nights, the days at Disneyland. It’s the time after the kids are in bed when you both put away work and just talk.
Marriage is all of it. It’s the sum of the parts. It’s a commitment to savor the highs, ride out the lows and appreciate with everything you have the space between.
Top image credit: Andrewmalone