Marriage is hard. Yes it is. That’s exactly what it is.. and more.
I spoke to a friend recently who, after going through a divorce, got remarried. I asked her how married life was and she said, “it’s hard, of course..”
Of course it is.
I spoke to a single friend about marriage and she said she didn’t want to marry if it wasn’t going to make her life better. If there was a risk that life would get worse, she didn’t see the point in messing with the system she’s got in place.
Being a wedding photographer for the last decade has given me plenty of opportunities to hear and ponder wedding vows. These humans stand and publicly promise the terms of the marriage — better, worse, sickness, health, richer, poorer, good times, bad, to be true, love, honor, cherish one another until death. Death, what a statute of limitations! Only someone on crack would believe it’s possible to keep these promises to the grave.
I’m not saying I don’t love and agree with the promises Jeremy and I made fifteen and a half years ago. I’m just saying I don’t know a single human who has been able to love, honor, and cherish their spouse in all circumstances perfectly. That’s why marriage is hard. That’s why you don’t get the guarantee that things will only get better. In fact, you make a promise to stay when they get worse. It’s right there in the vows so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Marriage is hard. Of course it is. It’s also partnership, an ally in a rowdy world, a dance partner during dinner prep, a walking buddy. It’s bearing witness. It’s a crook in a neck where my head fits like a puzzle piece. It’s being seen, known, and somehow accepted anyways, most of the time. It’s sharing a million secrets about tastes and preferences, constellations, trains of thought, jokes and fears, history and body parts and hygiene. It’s someone to fight with and someone to fight for. It’s the ability to be human in a deeper way. It stretches your own ability to stay, to accept, to open up when everything inside of you says, “leave!” “push away!” “shut down and self-preserve!”
After all that, it’s the hand you find grabbing for yours when you see your kids go to the first day of kindergarten or struggle in a hospital bed. It’s the one who holds you when you weep like a child over the loss of a parent. It’s the laugh-till-you-cry lines you know better than your own and the ability one person has to rescue you from yourself with one glance. It’s the invitation to go beyond yourself into something holy enough to carry you to the grave.
As I said before, marriage is hard. Yes it is. That’s exactly what it is.. and more.
Because marriage is also this:
that, if well fought and you’re lucky, becomes this:
Which seems pretty worth it to me.
photo of us by Nate Kaiser
photo of old couple by Emanuelle Carbinatti