We had two and a half child-free days this weekend, my husband and I. It was glorious. Like a second honeymoon, only without the beach and the newly-married learning curve. We did crazy first-year-of-marriage things like eating out and staying up too late and sleeping in and napping and shopping together. I wasn’t tired (imagine that). We did crazy almost-fourteen-years-of-marriage things too, like eating breakfast without saying much, and reading books separately while in the same space.

Marriage: a long-term every day choosing of the other.

But that quiet sometimes made me uneasy. I had a flash of fear that we were becoming that couple that doesn’t know each other once they finish raising children. I had to melt that fear in the warmth of knowing that we are ok with silence. He is my best friend. We talk when we need to, and we don’t if we don’t.

It got me thinking about us and all the things we have weathered in our almost fourteen years and how we’re still together. Sometimes, I play through scenarios, like what if his bus crashes, and I’m widowed. What would I do? But I never think “what if one of us just walks away.” I can’t imagine starting over. We’ve built something unique together, piece by painstaking piece, that we could never recreate.

Our marriage has been a long-term every day choosing: choosing to remember the good and the true. Choosing to stay and keep building.

In those moments when all is quiet and nothing is new and we slip into taking one another for granted, I choose to remember. I recall the thrill of those early days when a kiss and an “I love you” were risks. I remember how he wrote letters and waited for me to finish school and moved back for me, and especially I remember how he stayed.

He stayed when our baby nearly died and he stayed when she lived. When my breasts were hooked up to a pump like a cow to a milking machine, he still wanted me. He pulled me close and spoke sense into my ears when, in a sleep-deprived fear-induced craze, I lost my shit over losing control of my kitchen and my life. It’s my kitchen! It should be the way I want it to be. I don’t want to need help! I want my life to be normal dammit! He stayed when in a depression and faith crisis, I lost my shit again and the entire family was walking on eggshells around me, fearing the next explosion. He chose me in spite of the slammed doors and desperate words and tears in the midst of kisses and the pounds gained and the skin tightness lost.

I choose him the way he chooses me, instead of the mythic greener grass on the other side. I choose this man with the calm soul, the graying temples, the slow impish grin, the love of old classic cars, and the arms that fit around me just right. I choose the man I can still make to blush when I flirt, with the twinkling blue eyes and the insatiable love of creating. I choose the one person who can make me laugh when circumstances threaten to overwhelm. I choose him even when the dollars don’t add up right and we make a stupid blunder on vacation and when he passes out in my favorite workout class and gets rolled out on a stretcher.

I remember all the moments when he chose me, I remember all the times we’ve smiled together, laughed together, and cried together. And I choose him again today.

***

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