(A Letter to My Almost-Married Former Self)
Right now, it’s hard for you to see beyond the first time. You have desires that you don’t understand how to harness and you are thankful that he’s two time zones away because that space is about the only thing helping you maintain your last shred of purity.
Can I tell you somethings about your future?
The first time will hurt like heck yet somehow be sweet all at the same time. But this letter isn’t about the first time. Because that’s only the beginning.
Right now, it only takes you about .0026521 seconds to jump into the realm of the intimate in your mind. But six years from now it will sometimes take you two hours, sometimes even two days.
You will have so much on your mind at any given moment. Lists upon lists of responsibilities, tasks to do, hats to wear. Loving him is only a part of all you will become, and sometimes, it will be the hardest part – not because your heart doesn’t desire him but because life is overwhelming and so many other things are so very pertinent.
One afternoon at the beginning of February he will shoot you a text from work about his plans for the evening. You’ll think, “Okay, wow, so not ready for that,” but you’ll text back that you’ll make the effort to make the mental shift from your frustrating day of mothering to an evening of giving and receiving love.
You’ll put on a show for your son and run yourself a hot bath. You’ll light a candle and turn on some music and try to force yourself into a state of relaxation.
Lonestar’s Amazed will come on (I know it’s currently one of your favorites) and you’ll think, “Ahh, this is a good song to put me in the mood.” But as it plays, the ridiculous unrealistic-ness of the lyrics will wash over you:
Every time our eyes meet
This feeling inside me
Is almost more than I can take
Every little thing that you do
Baby, I’m amazed by you
And you’ll know it’s not true. It doesn’t happen every time. And sometimes the things he does irritate, sometimes even hurt.
Oh, it feels like the first time, every time
You’ll just sort of smile – because you remember the first time in all its pain and awkwardness. And you know what it’s like now. You’ll breath a prayer of thanks that it truly does “just keep getting better.”
The song is over and changes to After All.
And after all that we’ve been through
It all comes down to me and you
I guess it’s meant to be
Forever you and me, after all
When love is truly right, this time it’s truly right
It lives from year to year, it changes as it goes
Oh and on the way it grows
But it never disappears
Your mind will travel back in time to separations and homecomings, trials, hurts, disappointments, and hope deferred. And you’ll realize that this song is a far more accurate description of the marriage you’ve come to know.
You won’t always be amazed by your marriage because marriage isn’t always amazing.
You’ll get out of the bath and put on a special dress, the only thing that you have left from your pre-pregnancy days. You’ll take five minutes straining your arms fighting to get it zipped.
Your son will come in and his face will light up because, “You’re so pretty! You’re a beach girl!” And you’ll smile because you’ll remember having him in your womb beneath the sheaths of this very dress.
But then the phone will ring and an hour later the house is in complete chaos. You and your husband will have spent the hour taking turns talking with the mortgage rep and managing the very noisy three-year-old in the background. Somehow between the two of you, you will also have managed to make macaroni and cheese for the boy and get him fed.
You’ll find out that you don’t qualify for the mortgage, your husband will be overwhelmed and anxious, your boy will be frustrated and tired – and you’ll be left feeling really silly in that “beach dress.” You’ll trade it in for pajamas and wonder if he ever even noticed.
Later on in the evening, after the boy is in bed and the husband has calmed down and a few episodes of TV have been watched – you’ll climb into bed together and then he’ll make the move.
It will be too late, you’ll be tired, and it will be frustrating for both of you. You’ll almost quit halfway through, but you’ll both push through and make it work because you know you are worth it.
It won’t be amazing.
But it’s okay. Because sex won’t always be amazing. That’s not realistically what intimacy looks like.
Intimacy is sometimes those moments when you’re tired and barely have the energy to look at him – to really see him – but then you’ll catch a glimpse of him and you’ll realize that you still love him with every fiber of your being and you want to soak up this moment in all of its everyday-ness. (And he won’t even know you took this picture.)
Sometimes intimacy is just those moments when you fall into bed wearing that old, stained, comfy t-shirt that you borrowed from him during his last deployment and never gave back. You’ll both be exhausted, but you’ll still take the 2 1/2 minutes to cuddle before rolling your separate directions to fall asleep.
Love, marriage, sex – it won’t always be amazing.
But it will be beautiful in all of its mess. It will be daily grace, redemption of hard moments, and wonder in all of its mundane.
That’s the love awaiting you.
It will be good. And you will still be amazed.
*Editorial note: While posted on February 15th, this post is actually not about our Valentine’s Day. I started scrawling this in a notebook a few weeks ago the day after all of this happened and finally was able to bring the words together last night sitting on the couch next to my sweet husband.