I remember the first time I saw him without a shirt.
“A tattoo?” I said, surprised. “You have a tattoo?”
Two of them actually, both belying an otherwise straight-laced persona. They bear the crests of his family’s Scottish descendants and are strategically placed on each shoulder, far enough up so as to remain hidden from the eyes of his 5th grade students when wearing a short-sleeved shirt.
His sense of adventure has taken him skydiving, extreme caving, and clear across the country to San Diego for a spontaneous five month-long sojourn, when the plan was to attend grad school in upstate New York. And he would’ve liked to have tried bungee-jumping someday before a herniated disc required back surgery two years ago.
Yet, despite all this, the man eats the same type of sandwich for lunch every blessed day throughout the year.
He holds a master’s degree in education, but can’t follow written directions to save his life. And he’s so incredibly absentminded that he once put a cooked pork chop back into the oven, only realizing what he’d done several days later when I prepared to use said oven to cook dinner.
“Oh, there’s my pork chop!” he said happily, as I stared in confusion at its petrified remains after unwittingly freeing it from its cavernous prison.
On our first date, I informed him that he had just enough dork in him to be cute. And he does, although “cute” can sometimes masquerade as “annoying” when I’m not in the mood for his goofy brand of humor. But he can still send me into fits of giggles with a well-timed one-liner. And he often does.
He can make me so angry I see red. But he can also make me laugh so hard I fart. (Which only makes me laugh harder).
A born pessimist, his obstinacy and glass-half-empty attitude often drive me crazy. But he never fails to support me – the dreamer – in my latest flight of fancy, or reassure me when I’m coming unraveled.
With all of his twists and turns and layers, he is, in short, a mystery wrapped in an enigma – to use one of his own favorite sayings.
And five years ago today, I took this man…
To be my lawful wedded husband.
To have and to hold.
For better, for worse.
For richer, for poorer.
In sickness and in health.
To love and to cherish.
‘Till death do us part.
Marriage vows, I feel, can often ring hollow to those who have yet to live them. Like the prayer incantation at a Sunday morning church service, you hear the spoken words but don’t really pause to consider their true meaning. Even when it was my turn to recite them, standing at that altar five years ago before friends and family and God himself, I can’t say that I fully understood their significance.
Now I do. Because over the past five years, each of those vows has been tested in some capacity. Some more vigorously than others.
Even certain matrimonial joys we’ve shared – like becoming parents – have brought with them new, sometimes unpleasant challenges.
In good times, snippets of my marriage vows occasionally light with only the faintest touch in the corners of my mind. During more challenging times, I reflect on them with a rueful smile. And during downright difficult times, I’ve leaned on them heavily, allowing them to carry me until I could once again see a light through the darkness.
We’ve made mistakes. Using words as weapons, we’ve hurt each other time and time again in ways that I could never have imagined when I donned that white gown five years ago – a pristine symbol of the new life that lay before us.
Now that life has seen some wear and tear. Some frayed edges, a few loose seams, a patched-up hole or two, maybe even some chinks in the foundation.
But no cracks. Not yet. Hopefully not ever.
He hasn’t always been the best husband; I haven’t always been the best wife. But at the end of the day, we are both inherently good people. Inherently good, flawed people.
He’s a good man. A family man. A guy’s guy, but also a sensitive soul. A hard worker. A good provider. A devoted husband. An adoring father.
And for this, I love him. I love him very much.
He doesn’t always make it easy…
But he does make it worthwhile.