I want to share our little secret about how to celebrate wedding anniversaries. We do not buy each other presents, ever. Not even for our 25th or 50th, we cannot buy each other presents. We made this decision on the plane to our honeymoon. We decided that instead of giving one another “stuff” that, for all intents and purposes, we didn’t really need, we would go on a trip together and give each other memories instead. Our hearts, our smiles, and the memories of adventuring together are far more valuable than any thing we could buy.
In fact this has been discussed between the two of us numerous times—what do we really value? Our goal in life, and in marriage, is to always be able to have adventures together. If we have to sacrifice where we spend our money, we can cut every corner possible, except making sure we can go on a trip together each year. Our first trip was camping in Big Sur. We took our dogs, rented an SUV, and had the most amazing three nights as a little family. Yes, we were a family, for those unsure about what defines a family. I love the scientific definition of a family, from the Oxford dictionary, “A group of objects united by a significant shared characteristic.” For me, that shared characteristic is marriage. We all create families through marriage, some big, some small, and all are perfectly imperfect. Yes, I said it. Families and marriage are not perfect. Marriage is a bond as strong as you want it to be.
Today we celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. For this, we wanted to each write what marriage has come to mean to us after our first half-decade as husband and wife.
Five years, all at ounce sounds like a long time and not long all. When I think of five years within the grand scheme of things, it is just a drop in the bucket. But in reality, this marks the year where “married-to-Geoff-years” surpassed the number of “girlfriend-of-Geoff-years”. Five years of marriage has already seen us through so many milestones. Buying a house, becoming artist/entrepreneurs, becoming an aunt and uncle four times over, making many, many new friendships, and the birth of our son, just to name a few. But what I have found more than anything is that we are constantly learning about each other, something that I don’t think will ever stop as we grow old together, as we ourselves are always changing. With five years of marriage comes the realization that we are sometimes broken people, but each other is the glue that holds the other together. Spending so much time with one other person is more about discovering who you are, through the reflection of you as your spouse sees you and loves you. You see things in yourself and in each other that you never thought possible. Triumphant things, scary things, joyful things. Marriage is letting someone in to the deep dark places of yourself, and knowing that they will still be by your side regardless.
Marriage isn’t about finding the person with whom you want to share all the fun exiting and memorable times with. It is easy to find people to celebrate with. Marriage is not inherently exciting, and that’s what makes it so sweet. It is knowing that on any given boring Wednesday night, we will be together. And there are approximately 3,588 Wednesday nights that we plan on spending with each other. At least!
Succeeding at being married has a little and a lot to do with defining the roles in your marriage. This is something we are still figuring out. I know that Geoff is the cook in our family. He is seriously amazing. If our kitchen was on Yelp, we would have five stars (maybe a few bad reviews for the messiness). Still I know he would tremendously appreciate me taking over sometimes (even though my cooking skills are comparable to that of a five year old trying to do algebra). I’m mostly in charge of doing dishes and keeping the house clean, and he takes out the garbage. I put our son to bed and manage most of his daily needs. Geoff works his ass off in the office processing photos and contacting clients. I manage the bills, he does all the grocery shopping. Knowing these things saves a ton of heartache and makes sure that stuff gets done! Doesn’t this all sound so glamorous?! Yes, it’s true, there are many seemingly lackluster aspects of marriage. But when you look back and realize that for five years, we’ve lived together, managed a household, ran a business, traveled the world, and raised the sweetest little eight-month old together, you can bet your sweet life you feel ACCOMPLISHED!
I have learned that “happily ever after” is something only found in fairy tales and Disney movies (but good golly do we love us some Disney movies!) Yes, happiness will be plentiful in a healthy marriage, but there is more. There are hard times and sad times, but these things only make you grow stronger together. It is all a part of growing up, and with marriage, we get a built in friend and support system that carries you through. We are so lucky that we can succeed at being together nearly constantly. We are together just about all day, every day. When we are not together, it feels weird.
One of my favorite things about being married is the memories. We’ve known each other for nearly nine years now. One of our favorite pastimes is sitting together and reminiscing about how we met, how we felt at certain times in our relationship, how many fun and wonderful things we have done, and looking back at all we have accomplished, and at all the amazing adventures we have shared together. This is something that only comes with time. And our bank of memories grows and grows everyday.
I have said this many times, but nothing really feels different the days, or weeks right after you get married. The change happens over time. But then one day, or many months, or even over a year later, you do feel something that was not there before. It is the everyday, it is the exciting days, it is the sad days, and it is the best days, all safely held between one hand, holding the other’s. It is the courage to carry on to the next day, month, year, and decade together. I’m so grateful for the wonderful man, father, and husband, Geoff has become, and despite all of our challenges, I know there is no one else for me.
Marriage to me at five years is still defined by the way I first thought it would be, that first moment I knew I wanted to marry Lisa. She sat there helping me pack up my 1984 Toyota pickup to help me move away to South Lake Tahoe. My truck had broken down and I needed to spend a day finding parts, and at the same time I needed to get to my new home. It was two days before Christmas, and my house was going to be empty, as my mom was moving away as well. That bright eyed, red-headed girl, with a smile that could stop me in my tracks, packed up my entire room, while I spent every tireless minute trying to get on the road. I wondered, “Why would this girl I just started dating, do everything within her powers to see me off?” I was leaving to be a 100 miles away from her, but all she wanted to do was make sure I got there safely. I still remember driving away, thinking to myself, that she was just the type of girl I wanted to marry. I wanted to marry someone who was willing to put her heart out there and do what ever it took to make me happy, and that I wanted to do the same for her.
We still ask each other at least once a week why we love each other, why we married each other, and why we are crazy enough to be running our business together. We both know the answers, but the simple reminder brings smiles to our faces. We understand that with marriage comes plenty of imperfect days, but finding ways to constantly remind ourselves that we are on this crazy adventure together, is important to us.
Marriage, the adventure! Marriage is what we do every day, together. It may be adventuring with an 8 month old boy on a walk to the park, it may be flying half way around the world with a three month old to write a book with your wife, and it may be simply lying in bed hoping for just 10 more minutes of sleep, or finding ways to get work done with an infant not wanting to take a nap. It is also being able to sip a cup of tea and coffee at the table and look into the eyes of the one you love, and know that everything is ok.
What is hard about marriage? Do we fight? Are we not happy all the time? How can you work everyday with your wife? There are plenty of struggles we all have throughout life. Sometimes we are fighting our own demons and Lisa is the one there helping me through, or it is each other not being able to communicate, at that moment, how we really feel. Sometimes we need space to think about what is going on, and times we need to resolve the problem immediately. The reality is, that if we didn’t trust each other to talk about it, no matter how hard the subject is, then our marriage would struggle. We choose to make sure that no matter how we feel, that with time we have to talk about it together. This time together has taught me how imperfect I really am, and that Lisa does help create a better me every day. We each know that we have our own different baggage that we carry around and that we have to be strong enough to help lighten each other’s load on our journey.
Marriage has lows and highs for us all. Please do not let me fool you into thinking that life and marriage is all about meadows with colorful flowers and running around with talking deer and birds. Life is not a Disney princess movie. In fact the lows, at times, strengthen us more than I would have ever thought. It is only after a low, we realize what we need to pick one another up, help dust each other off, and keep walking ahead hand in hand together. It doesn’t matter if one of us fell harder than the other, or if one of us didn’t fall at all. It is the fact that we have to support each other through the hard times and find ways to tell each other what is going on.
Here are just a few of our adventures together!
Yes that is Ira Glass!
And now we are lucky to have an 8 month old little boy coming along in our adventure in marriage!