When I got my married my wedding invitation said “At Last…The Fairy Tale Comes True.”
I have this pet peeve about simplistic statements about marriage. Marriage isn’t simple. It’s messy, complicated, and full of unexpected surprises of every variety. It is also joyous and wonderful; but it’s not a fairy tale or a cliche. After 15 years of marriage, I can say that the fairy tales and cliches never come close.
The fairy tales don’t mention the endless laundry, the bathroom habits, or the sometimes unshaven legs; or the emotional toll of the pregnancies, births, and deaths.
When I got my married my wedding invitation said “At Last…The Fairy Tale Comes True.” It had castles and a Princess and a knight in shining armor. I was finally marrying the man of my dreams.
My knight snores and farts a lot in his sleep. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just saying it’s not exactly courtly behavior. Instead of dancing at the gala ball, I have to get him quickly drunk so he’ll two-step with me at weddings. And I’m not bragging, but in the middle of the night I look more like the old crone with the apple than Snow White.
My knight isn’t exactly in shining armor, just a beat-up Nissan with gold paint. He doesn’t lift me up over puddles or fight in tournaments in my name. He doesn’t rescue me from dragons.
But he has saved me. More times than I can count, he has stood by me, held me up, or wiped my tears. The kind of pain we have survived together is more real and less pretty than anything I ever read about. Cancer, miscarriages, post-partum depression, funerals…these are just a few of the things that build up a true hero’s strength. He has even made me feel like a Princess from time to time–and I don’t just mean the sleeping one.
And then there’s the cliche.
A few weeks ago I got an invitation to a wedding that proudly proclaimed “Today I marry my best friend!” It had two little kids holding hands and gazing adoringly at one another. The bride had gushed about the invitations, and how her marriage was going to be “completely joyous”–because she was marrying her best friend too.
Oh no, you aren’t. And that’s ok.
Fifteen years ago I did NOT marry my best friend. You read that right.
The man I married didn’t know my ups and downs, my neurotic tendencies, and he didn’t know when to just go with them the way a best friend does.
The man I married didn’t know how quiet I get when I’m upset, so he couldn’t badger me to tell him what’s wrong the way a best friend does.
The man I married couldn’t encourage his best friend to write, because he hadn’t yet learned how much I love to do so.
The man I married didn’t know how to hold my hand through heartache, or how to hold my gaze in joy.
We didn’t have kids, so I couldn’t admire the way he protects them, and engages them, and he couldn’t admire the way I do the same.
The man I married didn’t know how to tell me the things that bother him, or how to work through things that bother me.
I had never seen the man I married sing in his off-key voice just to soothe his baby, so I couldn’t completely adore that.
The guy I married didn’t play guitar, so he couldn’t be patient and teach me so we could play together.
The man I married didn’t know that I like to dance, so he couldn’t muster up the courage to dance at least one dance at every wedding just so his best friend could be happy.
The man I married didn’t know how much I love tea, so he didn’t bring me a cup every morning just to be nice.
I didn’t know the man I married liked cheap beer, so I couldn’t tease him about it the way buddies do.
The man I married didn’t know that I like cheap EVERYTHING, because I’m what my father liked to call thrifty.
I didn’t know the guy I married would become Clark Griswold, making each of our family vacations a trip into a magical land.
The guy I married didn’t value my keen sense of direction, not yet having gotten lost so many times in Disneyland.
The man who married me did make me laugh…but he didn’t know the way I can be “air-tickled” and that puns make me giddy the way besties know.
The man I married couldn’t lean on me as much as I lean on him, the way best friends do.
The man I married didn’t know how to share things with me, the deepest secrets that best friends share.
The man I married was not my best friend. He was only a shadow of the man he would become. Today I AM married to my confidante, my love, my best friend. We have spent the last 15 years learning who we are, who we want to become, and what we are together. Every day has not been a joy–but best friends don’t skip out on the rough times.They hold your hand through them, and help you enjoy a nice bottle of wine after all is said and done.
Every day has not been a fairy tale or filled with joy; but it has been worthwhile, passionate, and true.
This post is republished on Medium.
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