A third anniversary doesn’t seem to have as much pizzazz as other years. The first year is a novel thing, the second, “hey look, we’re still at this and we’re figuring it out!” Three… it feels like turning 22, in a way — you’re already legal everywhere, you’ve done the dancing on the tables thing, and you’re pretty sure the last big party was a year ago and the next one won’t be ’till you’re 30.
That’s not to say that I’m not excited for our third anniversary. It’s a moment that signifies that we are still choosing one other, and choosing love, every day. It’s a day to remember all of the nerves and joy and laughter and all-too-quick excitement that shook up our lives three years ago. It’s our day. I’ve had a full heart since I woke up this morning, flipping through photos and remembering. To me, a lot of the joy is in seeing how life has changed since we got married — people in our photos who had no kids now have two, our flower girls are kindergartners, we have our own house and our own child.
A few days before our anniversary I was by myself, colouring (because I’m on the colouring book bandwagon). It’s something I do when my husband is away on a night shift and my kid is in bed. I let my mind wander, as usual, and the thought that came up and made me set down my pencils and snort was Congratulations! Your marriage is three years old. Your marriage is old enough to not choke on small parts. Because I have an almost-two-year-old, and I know what all of the best toys say on the box — 3+.
I laughed because it was such a bizarre thought, but then I pondered on it some more and realized it was kind of apt. Three years in, and I think we’ve said the worst of what we can say to one another — and the best. We’ve never lived the most evenly-keeled lives, and this last one was a whopper, with a layoff, a new job, and the financial roller coaster that resulted; losing a beloved pet, intense work schedules and solo parenting and childcare issues. Of course every year feels like it’s a big crazy year, but this one felt trying and testing in all new ways. And we have come out the other side (although I am still wary of what is going to drop at my feet next). We didn’t choke on the small parts, or the big parts.
That’s not to say we didn’t stumble. Our marriage is old enough to not choke on small parts but it isn’t old enough to be left unsupervised. This has been the year where our vows have required cultivation and carefulness. This is the year where balance has become the hardest thing to strike. But if it a few hours after a misunderstanding, or it is at the end of an exhausting evening of angrily punctuated text messages, or even if it’s the morning after and someone is waking up huddled in a protective fort of blankets, we have each extended a hand through the storm, stretching to find common ground, to hold on tight and not let go.
I would not change a thing.