So spending time with my extended family over the holidays reminded me of the last time I did that.
J and I went to a wedding in September.
I’m a sap, so you think I’d love going to weddings. I usually do. I really expected to enjoy this one. The bride was my first cousin’s oldest daughter, and my first cousin and his entire family (wife and children…and even his new son-in-law) are kind, positive people. So I was surprised when the ceremony and most of the toasts at the reception kinda bummed me out. I love words. I love words of LOVE. Have I mentioned I’m a sap? I mean…I write romance novels. That is what I DO. I’m normally a sentimental fool listening to wedding speeches. But not at this one.
The officiant’s speech talked about how love is an active choice, not a feeling (I agree with this), and how when you marry a person, you are pledging to love that person ‘all the days of your life.’ Which he went on to clarify, meant, ‘You’ll have to love your spouse, even on days when you don’t like them. And there *will be days* you don’t like them very much or at all. When you’ll say to yourself, ‘Why did I ever marry this person?!’ But you have to love them that day anyway.’ The father of the bride reiterated this in his speech at the reception. ‘When you hit one of those days <because that’s an inevitability> when you don’t like each other, and wonder why you did this, remember the happiness of this day and it will help you through it.’
I mean, I get it. I do. We don’t wanna set the kids up to believe marriage is a happy fairy tale vacation all the time. So reminding them that not every day is going to be a giant party with an open bar filled with every person they ever really liked in their life dressed up and applauding them is maybe prudent.
But…I feel like they know that. I really do. I feel like most people know by the time they are about 15 that sometimes life sucks. But what bothered me about this repeated notion wasn’t that the priest or the father-of-the-bride were clouding a bright, happy celebration with reality. It was that…well…yeah, life sucks sometimes. And sometimes the person you chose to spend your life with is going to do or say shit you don’t like (or neglect to do or say shit you DO like). They’ll annoy you.
I know I annoy J. I procrastinate. I zone out. I can be lazy. I get ranty about injustice and hypocrisy. I’m certain my social anxiety grates on him sometimes. I’m emotional and I worry incessantly, especially about him and our son. And our dog. I bet he wishes I understood technology and mechanics better so he didn’t have to give me the remedial lesson over the phone when something breaks and he can’t just come home to fix it himself in the moment.
And (I KNOW OMIGOD! GASP! DOUBLE GASP EVEN! but it’s the truth…) sometimes J annoys me too. Sometimes I wish he said the sappy, romantic shit that is usually the reason I love weddings TO me. He doesn’t, though. Ever. Well, okay not not EVER. He’ll pull out a real gem every now and then that gets quoted out of context in the romance novels because…(don’t marry a writer if you don’t want your words to become immortal). He’s not a wordy man though. Or a particularly sentimental one, to be honest. And he’s messy. For real. I estimate I’ve put about 4 katrillion empty snack wrappers/water bottles/soda and beer cans and bottles into the trash/recycling over the years because he just leaves them out on a table. I put abandoned dirty socks in the laundry. I put tools back into drawers. *I close drawers left open.* And he doesn’t know how to cook anything, so that’s always been on me, even when I worked 40 hours a week at a job outside home too.
And we’ve been through some hard shit as a couple. We’re parents (I could write a series of volumes on how hard that is by itself), and we lost a pregnancy before we had our son. We carried two mortgages for almost six months early in our marriage. J’s father doesn’t like me. I never got to meet my mother-in-law, because J lost his mother before we ever met. I have a strained relationship with my own parents. We’ve dealt with illnesses and deaths in the family, car accidents, weather damage to our house, and the loss of a lot of long term friendships together. We’ve both felt unhappy and unappreciated in our careers. Not every day has been an amazing non-stop pleasure-fest. Hell, I think both of us weren’t even that happy on our actual wedding day. We’re introverts. That was a LOT of attention on us and a lot of stress to deal with to make sure everything went alright for *everyone else.* (We didn’t have rich or even particularly close, cooperative parents. Or a professional wedding planner. In fact, we didn’t have a professional anything for our wedding…except a caterer…and we didn’t serve steak and salmon.)
But that doesn’t mean there have been days where we didn’t like each other. I’ve liked J every day. Every single day, since I met him. I’ve never thought to myself, “I don’t even LIKE this guy…” and I’ve certainly never said, “I don’t like you,” or “I hate you,” TO him. I’ve never even thought those things.
I’ve never thought, “Why did I marry this guy?”
Not once. Because I know why.
Yes, I actively choose to love J every day. I treat him with love and care and respect every day. And those are choices. Not feelings.
But I like him every day too. Even when he’s messy and he says 14 total words to me in a day. Even when life has thrown something shitty at us that we have to deal with.
And I know he chooses to love me every day. He treats me with love and care and respect every day. I sure hope he likes me every day too. Even when I’m annoying him.