it's our 11th anniversary! (ELEVEN YEARS!!!!!!!!)

i literally cannot believe we have been married for 11 years.

we have stayed married for 11 years!!!!!

i found some old home videos on our external drive from the summer after we got married and my jaw dropped- i can't believe what a difference a decade can make:) so young. so dumb! so awkward. it's truly embarrassing. (to echo that sentiment, jude saw the picture above and said, "why's daddy's hair so silly??")

last year on our 10th anniversary i wrote this post, and i know i say this far too often, but i just wish i could have told our silly, young, baby-selves that marriage would be the hardest thing in the world. in all the advice we got, we never got that nugget of blatant wisdom. 

this past year more than ever i feel like i can't even comprehend life without mike by my side- he's been there too long to not have him there. our lives are so deeply intertwined, and the things we've gone through are so uniquely long-lasting and complicated that it is basically impossible to even try and describe. i talked to a dear friend the other night about how i wish i could have been prepared for how overwhelming the hard times could be- the weight of burdens and struggles and strain. issues with one or both partners can last for days or weeks or months or years. that whole "in sickness and in health" makes it seem like a rough weekend where you have a cold, or when you're at the end of your life and you've gotten to the age where you're "old" and that's just what happens in nature, right?

what about the rest of the time?

the long days and even longer nights?

ugly cries.
sweat pants.
burned dinners and sad bank accounts and dirty floors and those little hairs from your husband after he shaves his face that get into every nook of your bathroom (usually immediately after you clean the counter).

love isn't that stuff we felt when we got married. 
the jury is still out regarding exactly what that was. i don't want to discredit our feelings- our lust or passion or twitter-pated infatuation. i joked with some girlfriends on a street corner a couple weeks ago- we were gawking at a couple ferociously making out across the street. one friend blurted out, "remember those days? do you remember MAKING OUT?!" then we all burst out laughing. i do remember making out. kind of? i mean, i remember how cool it was. and how long one could make out!! making out was the best!!!! but there's a reason we all started laughing at her comment, amiright?

here's the thing though- love takes over when all the pretty stuff/making out subsides. love in marriage comes when you realize how hard you have fought to stay together. maybe it's like a tree- i have no idea how a mature tree gets to be "mature." it sure doesn't start that way, and no one would say a tiny tree isn't a tree! it still is a tree! it's just not quite rooted yet. it usually needs a little guidance. a whole lot of sunshine, and even rain. wind, storms- you know- the elements of nature. some trees stronger than others. hey! some trees bear fruit (some bear nuts- just thought i'd point that out). but think of the rings in a tree- year after year that tree grew, subtly stronger. no one knows what that tree managed to withstand, but there it is. a big ol' mature tree. just standing there. BAM! a mature tree! where'd that come from? has it always been there? THAT TREE IS AMAZING! no one knows what that tree has seen except the tree herself.

you know that old couple in the restaurant that sits across from each other and doesn't talk? i feel like they get a bad rap. really, let's be honest, they're amazing! they have made it through so much. their silence speaks volumes. why do we assume it's a bored silence? an awkward silence? can you even imagine what they've been through!? that couple makes me smile. WAY TO GO! you sit in your silence and sip your warm drink, couple.

trees and old couples. they have it figured out. i, personally, do not have it figured out. i do have some theories i'm testing though (e.g. trees and old couples).

i'm assuming the years ahead are going to be hard- if i've learned anything it's that, after all, that's how this whole rant started. i pray that mike and i will have the courage and strength and fight to keep at it. to withstand the winds and rain and storms. to dig deeper. to provide shade and protection for our babies. to make our marriage our greatest accomplishment in our individual lives. 

the hard times may be hard, but the good times are like nothing my newlywed self could even fathom. it's warm-your-heart, pride-that-makes-you-weep, pure joy. it's a closeness and a bond that pales in comparison to infatuation. i am so grateful for the last 11 years alongside mike. happy 11th anniversary to my best friend and former next door neighbor. thank you for being patient and growing with me, and making it to yet another wedding anniversary. cheers, babe.

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