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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Garner

Rain or Shine

I think about relationships a lot. How we interact with each other has always been interesting to me, and marriage is probably the more interesting of these. Because I think a lot about marriage, it also means I like to write about marriage. It’s like a giant social experiment. We stand up before God (or a judge, or whatever your personally choose) and vow to be with this person, and only this person the rest of our lives. We promise that they will be the last person we choose forever. We choose to live together, make giant purchases together, brush our teeth next to one another. The list goes on and on. That’s kind of crazy right? A big chunk of people make this decision when they are so young they don’t even really have themselves sorted out yet. But here they are, promising eternal love and devotion to another human being. All in. It’s kinda nuts considering a lot of us have trouble keeping a car for its full lifecycle. Culturally, we are fed a story that this person will “complete” us and be our “soul mate” for the entirety of our human lives. The diamond industry wants you to believe that, at least. We are given a story, that obviously sells, that when we find this person, everything will be a little better; a little fuller. A lot of rings are purchased on this storyline. We spend huge amounts of money to create a day to celebrate this union. We all show up to these weddings with a smile on our faces to give these couples support. The guests with some years under their belt don’t make any hint of the challenges ahead, other than a small chuckle or knowing glance amongst each other. They take their slice of cake and just celebrate the concept of love. It probably has to be this way, right? Otherwise, who would do it? Because ya’ll…it’s work. Real, soul searching, nail biting work. And if anyone would have provided me with a hint that it would be this much work, I might not have done it.

Today, my own marriage has made it eleven years. Eleven years ago, I blindly told a judge that I would accept a legally binding connection to this man until death did us part. I can assure you that version of me did not truly consider what that meant. I had a vague vision in my head of what life married to someone would be. I think my vision fell somewhere between cheesy romantic comedy, and a Nicholas Sparks novel. In my head, there was a lot of impromptu dancing in the kitchen and romantic kisses in rain. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever kissed anyone in the rain in real life…but they seem to do that a lot in movies, so I went with it. I didn’t think it would be perfect, and I knew we would have challenges, but I couldn’t conceptualize the amount of work that would be needed to learn to live side by side with another human being and grow together. I had a clear picture of who I would be as a wife. I would be supportive always, and selfless; giving this man all the love and attention he could need. I would always make healthy, amazing dinners, and wear cute underwear. I would never floss my teeth around him, and my legs would always be freshly shaved. My partner would never be distracted from me. We would always be attracted to each other and I would definitely want to have sex every day. I think I fell somewhere between That’s what I thought.

But here’s a little clearer picture of how it turned out: I didn’t really understand that I had a lot of work to do on myself. I made him my whole world. I was defensive and clingy, deeply afraid of losing him, so I created a grip that would choke the life out of anyone. I was jealous, and insecure. I very often felt threatened by his success and minimized in his presence. He had his shit too, but that’s not my story to tell. These unhealthy ways of existing collided into a perfect storm of passive aggressive comments and lack of safety. I was terrified of losing him, but at the same time resented the hell out of him. Looking back, it was exhausting. I put so much pressure on him and this relationship to be the center of my world. Spoiler alert: I don't always wear cute underwear and sometimes we eat whatever random shit is in the refrigerator. I can't really even imagine how tired I'd be if we had sex every single day and who wants to always floss behind a locked bathroom door?? So yeah. It didn't turn out as I'd imagined.

And it was hard. Very hard. I didn’t know at times if we would make it. I knew he was my best friend, and deep down, couldn’t imagine a life without him in it. But damn. This was a little much.

About two years ago, we had a huge shift. Most of you know about that shift, because I wrote about it, and a lot of you watched it all unfold. This horrible tragedy turned out to be the punch in the gut we both needed. We had to choose each other every single day, sometimes several times a day. We didn't have tomorrow promised to us (not that we ever did, but it was way more in our face at this moment in time) so we had to recognize this together and make choices that felt right for the exact moment we were in. We had to get very honest with ourselves and each other about whether we wanted to do the work that would be required to keep going. The hardship we went through made us both realize that in reality, marriage for us meant that even when things were beyond shitty, this was still the person we wanted to be sitting by us. And it wasn’t linear ya’ll. It was up and down (and still is) and all over the place. We messed up, came together, grew a little and moved forward, only to mess up again and start all over. But we moved forward, one tiny step at a time.

Here’s the vision I have of marriage now: This person I choose will be here with me as my best friend as I figure out myself and grow into who I want to be. He is a lens to help me see how I show up in the world. He’s not my everything, but rather someone I deeply enjoy spending time with and even at his worst, I still can’t see a life without him there. I don’t love him for how he makes me feel, but rather for who HE is himself, even without me. We will have times that we feel distant to each other and times of the deepest intimacy, but we will acknowledge the impermanence of these phases and move forward together. I don’t have any preconceived idea that we have it figured out. I actually know that this is just the beginning. We are going to have to do this all again at some point. Because we are messy, and difficult human beings, and that’s how it goes. But this time I have a deep faith in us to figure it out.

I’m not easy to be with. I don't imagine any of us truly is. I have an immensely difficult time asking for what I need. I’m sensitive and very often stubborn and refuse to ask for or accept help. I am psychotically clean and have trouble just chilling out. But this man takes it all on. He has learned to gently push me to say what I need and not fear rejection. He’s taught me to live bigger; to take some risks. He’s taught me even more about what true devotion means. He never bats an eye at my deep curiosity about people and my weird spiritual beliefs. He accepts that I’m pretty introverted and I give him space to be who he is as well. He helps me chill the fuck out.

I don’t think we’ve ever kissed in the rain, but we’ve had more laughter together than I could have ever dreamed of. We’ve watched a thousand sunsets together and marveled at each one. We’ve seen good music, drank good beer and spent so many days in nature that I can’t even count them. We've cried together, experienced pure joy together and picked each other up off the floor more times than I can count. He’s given me space to figure out what I want in life and always always always pushed me to have more fun. I am grateful for what he gives me as well as what he takes.

Here’s to eleven more beautiful, exciting, painful and challenging years together.

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