I don’t know these two people in the photo. I do not know their story. But I hope my story follows this path, literally, and that Craig and I are walking right in that same spot, at their age, beside my favorite river, holding hands.
Perhaps I intruded in their private moment by taking this picture, but I hope not as those of you who follow my posts know how strongly I believe in signs. God, My Angels, Spirit, they are looking out for me, just as I believe yours are looking out for you. And this beautiful couple, today, was my sign loud and clear.
Anyone who is honest about marriage will admit, it is not easy. Especially right now. If life had zero challenges, parenting had zero issues and everyone agreed on everything, marriage might be easier. But it also might be pretty boring. Have there been days I have wanted to strangle Craig, or him me? Absolutely. Have I cried and screamed “Why can’t you be more romantic?” And have there been days he’s pulled his hair out yelling, “Why can’t you just follow through on things?” Absolutely. Yes, we are a hopeless romantic married to a total type A. But that’s what works for us. Most days.
Craig and I got into a fight just yesterday. I won’t go into details, but it goes along the lines of that quote, “Same sh– different day.” I know we both ask, “Why can’t he/she ever be better at this?” Or, “Why doesn’t he/she get me after all these years?” But then I take a deep breath by the river and realize this is who I fell in love with. This is the hot guy I saw from across the room in 1994 standing by a keg in his blue Arizona t-shirt, and said,
“Who is that?!?!”
This is who I chose and who chose me. This is the person who no matter how mad I get I eventually have to forgive, even if sometimes I don’t want to, because if I look at his innocent sleeping face at night, how can I not?
And what this lovely couple who passed me today reminded me is that Craig knows me better than anyone. He knows my brow is about to furrow before it even does. He knows exactly how I feel about every issue even if I haven’t voiced my opinion. He knows the mole on the back of my neck and the new wrinkles coming in on my face. He has been with me through the return to college after my aneurysm and a crazy phase, college graduation, graduate school, the deaths of my grandparents so dear to me, world travels, my first real job, marriage, three pregnancies (two bedrests), the death of a very dear friend, my spiritual journey, the raising of our children and so much more.
He has seen me at my very, very worst and supported me when I shined. He has held me when I sobbed, and backed off when I needed space. He can order the exact right thing for me at any restaurant, and even knows which friends of mine will not last, even before I do. Every single memory I have for the last twenty-four years has Craig in it, even if we weren’t together at the time. And I pray every memory for the next twenty- four years will as well.
So, I am going to keep this photo of the couple I saw today as a reminder. A reminder to look at when I am so angry at Craig that I drop the f-bomb multiple times and my head is spinning. A reminder to look at when I watch romantic comedies and wonder why I can’t have that. A reminder that no matter what life brings, a loyal, true, marriage is worth fighting for. A faithful person you love and who loves you UNCONDITIONALLY is worth fighting for. Someone who knows you almost better than you know yourself is worth fighting for. And a real, true, honest marriage is not like the movies.
I believe a true, honest, real marriage will always have challenges through every stage of life. And just as the river continues to flow through seasons of ice, storms and snow, marriage can too. And the river will always be there to walk beside, hand in hand.
Wishing you love and strength in your marriage and healing deep breaths when things get hard.