17 years ago today we said, "I do," in a gazebo in the Battery in Charleston, SC.
Sean stole my youth, obviously.
We have moved(seriously had to go digging to find the actual number)...
3 times in SC. From our first tiny townhouse on Rainbow Drive, to a slightly less nasty apartment, to our first house on Crickintree Lane.
7 times with travel nursing. We zig zagged around Phoenix. Went up to Seattle for a contract. Back to Phoenix. Across the country to Charlotte, where Sean joined the military.
6 times in the military. Texas, I'm totally counting the short stint the boys and I packed up and moved temporarily to South Carolina because it was the military's doing. Maryland. Ohio. Virginia. Japan.
16 moves. Dear Lord, I am thankful our marriage has survived based on that fact alone. Moving is stressful.
It is my daily goal to make this man laugh. If I can get him to crack, I consider my day a success. I love nothing more than to be responsible for him smiling just like he is in the picture. We climbed up to this stupid torii gate having left our shoes way, way down the beach. The rocks felt like shards of glass. It brought forth a string of profanity that would make Richard Pryor blush. The Bataan Death March and Purgatory were mentioned. We laugh a lot. Being funny has saved our marriage on many occasions.
I think about how young we were when we got married more often now that we have a kid within striking distance of the same age. I was 18 and Sean was 21. I understand why our families were both a little hesitant to shower us with praise over our decision to get hitched. Having lived through the battle of marriage, they knew what we didn't; marriage is hard.
Thankfully, the fundamentals of who we are now were in place at 18 and 21. We were both just as stubborn and resilient then. We were both focused on the same goal(s). We were both each others biggest fans. We had character. We had a willingness to see things through. Sure, life beat some of the shininess out of our ideology along the way, but our marriage wouldn't be better in any way if we'd waited five years to commit. People blame divorce on getting married young, but I see the statistics and don't think age plays that big-a part. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've met some pretty stupid people headed for the altar at much older ages than 18 and 21. It's not about age so much as it is about just freaking making it work.
Kids make marriage hard. Losing a baby made marriage hard. Moving all the time makes marriage hard. The military makes marriage hard. Outside influence. INSIDE influence. Our own rotten human nature; selfish, sinful, spiteful, people that we are, we make marriage hard. I'd like to blame it on him and he'd like to blame it on me, but dang can we fight. We fight clean, for the most part. Every once in a while, we hit below the belt with venomous words, but we've learned over the years to bite our tongues. Sometimes I have to all but bite my tongue OFF because I am just so very right. All the time. It's phenomenal, really.
We were just talking about what makes our marriage work. Despite all the biting of tongues, we do really well to communicate. Sean is nevereverever on his cell phone. He doesn't do Facebook more than twice a year or any other forms of social media. I wish I could say the same for myself. I have learned(/am still learning) not to be disrespectful and distracted with phone usage. I would never stare at my phone while a stranger is talking to me, I certainly shouldn't stare at my phone when the one who pledged their life to me is speaking. We talk a lot. When we can't get a word in edgewise, we leave the children to fend for themselves and go elsewhere. Even if it's sitting in the car in the driveway. We get brutally honest. Sometimes to the point of breaking each other's hearts with our honesty. Isn't there a country song about being broken, together? I assume that means it's a good thing. It's proven to be in our case. Being broken, but putting in the work to put the pieces back together. It's worth it. We've watched a few marriages collapse and it's heartbreaking. It's worse than death. At least with death there is closure. Watching a marriage end, especially with kids involved...it doesn't really end. The bitterness is still there. The shuffling of children, broken relationships and lingering hatred, it's not something I ever want to experience.
Another thing, we put our family first. Sean is better about that than me. He has always protected our family and I've learned how to do the same from him over the years. I learned year one(probably day one) that my humor had no place in our marriage if it came at his expense. It's hard, because I'm hilarious. If I can't throw out public zingers about the person I know best, it can cause indigestion. I'm thankful that he squashed that very early on in our marriage. When I see a wife insulting her husband(and vice versa), even in jest, it puts a bad taste in my mouth. It makes me cringe.
Anytime I start to worry, Sean is the one to calm me. It usually involves the phrase, "When have we ever done anything the easy way?" I wonder if he thought that as he proposed to me? I certainly have not made life easy for that man, bless'im. He can diffuse me. He can keep me from launching into the kids for being teenager-y. He brings me down in the best way possible. In conversation recently, I said something about being passive and non-confrontational. He laughed out loud, in my face. Rude. He asked how it's possible that I can be passive with everyone on the planet, but him. Because he's safe. He is the only person that truly knows me and still loves me despite my many flaws. I think that is awesome.
Sometimes I hate writing gushy stuff like this about him, because he's sure to piss me off in the near future. But even when I'm mad at him, I'm his biggest fan. When I had my emergency on Mother's Day with the baby, I realized I am the only one who has the power to frazzle the man. I am also the only person who can guilt him. Oh, the power! He's usually the coolest cucumber during emergencies, but he came a bit unraveled when I said the words I've been terrified to say over the last 26 weeks: "I'm bleeding." Once we were at the hospital, the nurse sent him to fetch me water and did the obligatory "Do you feel safe at home?" questions. I didn't let the words slip out in melodramatic fashion, but what I wanted to tell her is that he's the best thing that's ever happened to me. It's not all good, I ain't sugar coating. Marriage is not easy, but worth it. 100% worth it.
We're better after 17 years.