Wednesday, June 12, 2019

15 years of pretty alright.

So as of 2:30ish this afternoon, Matt and I will have been married for 15 years. We've been together since January 2002, moved in together July 2002, engaged October 2002, and married June 2004. Honestly, we would have gotten married sooner but I have a thing about doing big things on odd years so we had to wait and the fact he even went along with that is a testament to Matt's patience. We met at Campbell Lumber where both him and my mom worked and she told me about this cute guy she works with around my age. It turns out that fall he was transferring to my college and we'd say hello in the hallway. I actually broke up with my fiance (don't ask) that September, started dating a much older guy who turned out to be the worst ever (don't ask), and by Thanksgiving 2002 I was moving my stuff out of my first apartment with my ex-fiance by myself, in the snow, (I am a testament that you should ALWAYS live with someone before you get married) and really depressed. I spent Christmas alone and pretty depressed, not sure what I was going to do in general. I sent out Christmas cards to some of my friends and family and took a chance and put one on Matt's windshield at work letting him know I hope his first semester went OK and if he had any issues with class start up, let me know and I could try to help (I was a work study in financial aid and student services). Right after New Years I ran into Matt again when he was working (I was visiting my mom between my two jobs) and he asked me if I wanted to hang out on a weekend he wasn't working and just watch movies. I said sure, he picked me up, we rented some movies, got him a sandwich at Subway, went back to the house he was renting a room in, and watched Pearl Harbor (unnecessarily long and completely lame) and The Fast & the Furious (pretty alright), and then I think he started Star Wars in his room but I actually fell asleep. 

And did not wake up until the next morning. I'm not even kidding. We had a second date I think the very next day (which was my dad's birthday so I stayed for cake and then left) and the rest is history. I knew I loved him within two weeks. I thought he was the cutest guy I had ever seen, he could fix my computer for school, he had a job, he was funny, he liked to do touristy things with me, he was as broke as I was, we had similar life plans, and we just clicked. 
We graduated college together that May. We knew we wanted to live together and started looking for places and he had heard about a one bedroom apartment above a video rental store in south end, with a garage and free laundry, and was only $425 a month in rent and that included all of our utilities. It felt like fate so we took it. Those were two of the best years of my life. I loved that little apartment and I remember crying when we had to leave even though we had bought our first home because I got pregnant six months after we got married. 
In just 15 years of marriage we have dealt with: depression, infidelity, job loss, bankruptcy, marriage counseling, new jobs, selling our first home and buying a new home, five pregnancies (one miscarriage and four babies), more depression, me dying during childbirth and becoming disabled, more depression, and now we're here. I know I'm missing a lot in there because I always say that if it can happen, it has happened to us and it wasn't easy but we've made it. 
We had some really rough years, yes YEARS, and there have been a lot of times where I've wondered if we were even going to make it. Perhaps the only positive that has come from dying and coming back is I know with every fiber in my body, Matt is my ride or die (literally) and I am his. We're older now, we're definitely not wiser, we always feel like we're winging it, but I know with 100% certainty that if I called Matt right now and told him I need him, he would completely drop whatever he is doing, wherever he is, and he would be here. He wouldn't question it, he would never make me feel bad for calling for him, and he would do it again in a heartbeat. 
Sometimes I see "what would you tell your younger self" type questions but if I had to tell this couple some stuff, it would be this: 
  1. This joy you feel on this day is fleeting. It goes away. Sometimes it lasts a couple of weeks, but it will always go away. It isn't meant to last because that's not what love is. 
  2. Always, always, ALWAYS put each other first. You will think you can focus on kids and family first and then your partner later because they'll be there, but that's not true. It has to be the other way around. I have fun with friends but if he says no to something, or he'd rather I hang out at home- I always do. I can think of only one time in all of these years he did that and it was right after my AFE and he didn't want me to go to the mall alone. Instead, he let me hang out at home and he took all of the kids out because all I really wanted was to be alone. 
  3. Even the relationships on the best foundation will crack. Marriage is THE hardest thing I have ever done. Harder than giving birth. Harder than any schooling I've had. Harder than any physical training I've done. Harder than recovering from death. Harder than ANYTHING. Every single day I go to bed I think about how I could have been a better wife. Some days I'm a really terrible wife. Some days he's a really terrible husband. But those are just singular days. 
  4. Two wrongs don't make a right and you can never go tit for tat. If your relationship becomes a place where you can compete who can hurt who more in an effort to "show them how it feels", you are doomed from the start. It's not about hurting them, it's about showing them how it hurts you so they understand and (hopefully) don't do it again. 
  5. We are always a united front. I might 100% disagree with his parenting style but I will always back him up (obviously unless safety is concerned but that's never been a thing with us, so calm the hell down). I will back him up and when it's our time after everyone goes to bed, I'll tell him that was stupid and why. He does the same.
  6. Accept who he is. To be fair, I still struggle with this and that's on me. I knew going in that Matt was not romantic. Pretty much not at all. I might get flowers, but they are the $5 bunch that look like weeds. I  might get a date once a year but I know it's dinner and a movie (if I'm lucky) and that's it. I will never be whisked away on a trip.... unless I plan it completely. I won't ever get sweet notes, cards, or texts with declarations of how he loves me. I won't ever get a birthday or Christmas gift with sentimental value because that's not how his brain works, he's very utilitarian so I will get something I've asked for very specifically or something he thinks I need. 
There is probably a lot more advice I could give but lord knows I can't remember it. HA! I just know that marriage is really hard, and that the honeymoon phase really is just a phase. You'll get bored with the person, they will drive you crazy, and you will wonder if this is as good as it gets, are you missing out on your soul mate out there? And I'll tell you that it does get better. If you had told me way back in 2007-2012 that things will get better and I will be happier than ever with him, I would have thought you were nuts. Completely nuts. 

But here we are. 

Matt is really the only person in the whole world who has hung by me on my worst days and my best days. He's the only person who is here every day and sees my short comings that I try really hard to hide from everyone. He's the only person who loves me just the same and never makes me feel like I'm a failure, a bad mom, a bad friend, a bad daughter, a bad person. Every single day he tells me he loves me and he never makes me feel like I'm missing the mark as a wife. He is proud of every accomplishment I have, even if it's just walking the neighborhood and getting home on my own. He has his flaws and we have our problems, but I know that at the end of my life, he'll be right there. No matter what. The only thing I'm really scared of in life is him dying before me because he absolutely, 100% is my rock. I depend on him for everything. He's my person. 

This will always be my favorite picture from our wedding. It was right after our ceremony, people had filed out and were waiting for us to get into the limo but we were waiting for our witnesses to sign the marriage paperwork. The photographer just snapped this quick and to be honest? This is the only moment from my wedding day that I still remember. The ceremony and reception? Is gone. But I look at this picture and we look so young (I was 22 and he was not quite 24) and it looks like we were just waiting for life to happen. 

And happen it did. 
Happy 15th, babe. I would pick you over and over again. (Even though your project management skills are terrible, you get the wrong stuff at the grocery store, and you snore so loudly. The fact I can overlook all of that is a testament to how much I love you.)


Rachel Morse said...

That is such a beautiful story. Well done you guys. Marriage is so tough. It'll be 14 years for me in August, and I have to agree that they haven't been easy, but they have definitely been years of character growth. Congratulations to you both and here's to the next 15 x

Unknown said...

Happy Anniversary to you guys! That's amazing!

coach-daddy said...

I love the honesty of your writing. Always have, always will. Because life isn't the snapshots we share on Instagram - it's those moments, yes, but it's also the struggles in between. Thank you for including those too and reminding us how important they are.

Lauren said...

Dammit, Sara, you're going to make me cry. Happy Anniversary! I know you and Matt have been through a LOT and definitely way more than most couples, but I'm glad that he's your person and that here's there for you. Even if he isn't very romantic. LOL


StephTheBookworm said...

This is really, really awesome! Your advice is spot on and I love the honesty and transparency. Yep, marriage is VERY hard, so it's important to portray that.
Happy anniversary!