Today is our
Today Mary and I have been married for thirty-seven years. How is that possible? Weren't we just at the church? Weren't our daughters just babes in arms? Where have the years gone? What does it all come to?
Certainly, when we married, I had no notion of what thirty-seven years of it would be like. And how could I? I was twenty-two years old then, and incredibly young for my age. A fellow doesn't know too much too soon.
If you stay married for thirty-seven years, however, you learn that you are married to the entire person, warts and all, as Mary knows. I am not exactly the pleasant young poet she thought she was marrying. Indeed, last night she used my own term back at me: grumble-bear.
There is a stretch in the beginning when you are looking forward, and all things seem possible. The marriage of this man and this woman can be anything you want it to be.
There is a stretch in the middle where you pull like two horses in harness, and you worry more about the pulling and less abut the grand enterprise of marriage. The marriage is what it is. She might question whether the effort is worth it, or you will question it, yet in the end you both stay in harness and you pull, pull, pull.
Eventually there comes a point, some twenty-five or thirty years on, when things seem a little easier. You accept each other for who you are and you stop expecting something else. In fact, you start to take joy in each other in ways that were not possible at the beginning.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you have started to agree on everything. God, no. Mostly you see the world entirely differently; or, she might say, you see entirely different worlds. Yet you have learned to accept that you actually have to agree on almost nothing, except that money is not important to happiness and that true love is the greatest gift, even if it doesn't look anything like what you imagined it would be.
We still have some good years before us. And, as we go forward, the happiness of our daughters brings us tremendous joy, and their pain pains us. We have begun to understand that these daughters have been our gift to each other, and our gift to the world, these strong beautiful women. We live our lives grey-headed now, or grey of beard, and in our daughters we see ourselves resonant in the world. It's the march of the generations: our daughters are beginning to stand in the world in our stead, taking with them a little bit of the hope and dream that Mary and I brought to each other that day we said "I do."
Thirty-seven years. Is that what it is?
I shake my head and wonder. It's like a miracle, these years.