We have a great love story, David and I.
Ours is a tale of young love, stops and starts, heartbreak, and an enduring friendship. We were an experiment in timing – good and bad – and chances missed and then taken.
It is the stuff of a fairy tale – or at least a decent rom-com.
Perhaps this is why I used to have an unrealistic view of marriage.
I thought that once the vows were spoken – and sealed with a kiss – every day I would smile a small, dreamy smile and think “I’m married.” Surely, every day I would gaze at him from across the room and count my lucky stars that he was my husband.
Once we were married, I thought the sea would calm. We would sail off into the sunset like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks would have in one of their movies. Maybe an alternate ending for You’ve Got Mail?
Turns out, nearly sixteen years later, we don’t live in a seafaring fairy tale/romantic comedy. We don’t own a boat – not even a canoe. We have a blue wagon that has an appointment to go in the shop this week.
Our reality is much different from what I envisioned years ago.
David is not patient.
We always end up in an argument when we are getting ready to go anywhere. He is always ready first and I never seem to be fast enough for him. He doesn’t seem to care whether or not we have everything we need, he wants to be on the road 5 MINUTES AGO.
“I need to do x, y and z,” I will tell him.
“Okay. I’ll be out revving the engine.”
You think I am exaggerating? He composed the family classic song ‘We’re Gonna Leave Without Mommy.’
He cannot put a roll of toilet paper on the holder.
He is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met and yet this simple piece of technology seems to stump him. I always walk into the bathroom to see an empty roll on the rung and a fresh roll on the counter. Said counter may or may not be wet, soaking the bottom of the paper. Soggy TP has no place in a marriage.
He can’t load the dishwasher.
He tries, I know. But I cannot stop myself from coming up behind him and rearranging everything because, “The spray will not reach that plastic container if you block it with the mug. You are just going to bake the germs on.”
My Tom Hanks stand-in can’t change a roll of toilet paper or load a dishwasher – and the things I mutter under my breath when he is pestering me to “let’s get going already” are decidedly un-Meg-Ryan-like.
(In the interest of full disclosure, David’s list of complaints about me would include that fact that I squeeze the toothpaste from the middle of the tube and I never put condiments back in the fridge after I make a sandwich. Also that I often ask for his advice, but then do not follow it. Prince Charming doesn’t have to deal with that crap.)
But guess what? Remember that sea? The one on which we were set to sail in our imaginary boat when we said our vows? The sea that was supposed to calm? It didn’t.
Sometimes we got tossed around a bit over the years. But we kept sailing. Harbour to harbour – through storms of uncertainty and grief and turmoil, through waves of success and upheaval, high tides and low – we journeyed.
Along the way, toilet paper and dishwashers and road trip departure times get weighed against other little things:
He makes my coffee in the morning before he makes his own.
He eats the pickle off of my burger because he knows I don’t like them.
He can tell when I have a headache by the expression on my face.
And five minutes after we are finally – FINALLY! – on the road he finds a great sing-along song on the radio and I am smiling once more.
He knows me – my mind, my heart, my successes and shortcomings – and he loves me for them. Still. And though I don’t do it every day, I do gaze at him across the room and think how very lucky I am that he is my husband.
Great love stories are not fairy tales.
Marriage is not a silver screen fantasy that plays out in less than 2 hours with a pretty bow and a snappy soundtrack. It is harder. Better. And real.
(I wouldn’t mind the snappy soundtrack, though – as long as it doesn’t include David and the boys singing ‘We’re Gonna Leave Without Mommy.’ But then again, maybe it should. )