They say the first seven years of marriage are the hardest, and if you get through those, you’ll likely make it. At least, most divorces happen within that range.
Today, we’ve hit that marker. Seven years.
Feels like seven lifetimes.
Seven Years Ago…
My knees buckled when you came up the aisle. It had only just hit me that today was the day. Though I’d been preparing for hours (not to mention the months before), only when I stood at the altar with my dad did it click, “Holy crap on a crap cracker, I’m getting
A simple wedding, a simple reception, and the best frickin’ cake that ever touched my lips. And yes, yes, you. That first dance to Anberlin’s “Inevitable.” “I wanna be your last first kiss.” Still love that line.
Because somehow, it’s still true.
Six Years Ago…
Ah, hindsight. How 20/20 you are.
Remember how we thought we were so poor? When we were paying all our bills, snowballing all our debts, sitting on a fully-stocked emergency fund, putting away more in savings, and still going on a vacation every year?
I wasn’t poor, I was a spoiled brat who thought he deserved more!
We still lived in St. Louis then, still went to Crosspoint Church. I remember because it was the year I went to a men’s conference and realized I was addicted to pornography. Addicted, not “interested in.” I had a problem.
You said that was the one time you genuinely thought about leaving me. You couldn’t take my constant roaming eyes. You wanted to get out and save yourself.
But you didn’t. You stayed and helped me instead.
Five Years Ago…
The hottest summer in St. Louis history, remember that? Over 100 degrees for a month straight, and over 110 degrees for a week straight. And I worked outside at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
I was on break from the ministry institute, for which I’d left my steady job, and you were struggling to provide with your part-time job. We only made $20,000 that year, but we never defaulted on a bill, a rent check, or anything. And we never once went hungry.
We lived 15 minutes from the nearest gas station and another 15 minutes from anything else. But we had friends, we had God, and we had each other.
Four Years Ago…
At the time, I thought this was the darkest point in my life. Unemployed for months on end, desperately searching for God, and living in a cheap, tiny house with terrible air conditioning. Step out of the shower and you don’t even dry off.
But somehow, we went to Chicago that year. I honestly don’t know how that happened, but the pictures say 2013, so yeah. And it was one of the best vacations we ever had.
I guess no matter how bad things were, we somehow made things work. “You, Me, and God,” we always said.
Three Years Ago…
At last, we seemed to hit a peak. I had a full-time job and either had just been promoted or was about to be. More money than ever before, a great apartment in a new town, and a baby on the way.
We went to Branson, Missouri for the last time. You and I had been twice before, but I’d been nearly every year with my family since I was a kid. But that was the trick: it was my family’s spot, but not our spot, and all the things I loved were going away.
Can’t believe they nixed the Desert Stop, what the crap, people?!
It was our last year alone, and that kind of frightened me, honestly. Where would you and I be once we had a child?
Two Years Ago…
Pere Marquet, as it turns out.
Mom and Dad watched the baby while you and I went to a quiet little hiking lodge in Southern Illinois. We found that old, but beautiful hotel, and discovered that their little restaurant and bar made better pizza than most major chains.
I was sick of my job, you were tired of always being just a mom, and we were both tired of our lousy church life. Pere Marquet was a great escape, but you and I looked at each other more and more in those days and said, “Something’s gotta change.”
And it did.
Oh, and we tried to get another red velvet cake from the same bakery that did our wedding cake. Either they changed their recipe or I was too happy to notice the original flavor, but it was NOT the same!
Ah, Denver, Colorado. Eat my entire ass.
I couldn’t find work except for a few editing jobs. You found work and hated it, and it didn’t even pay all the bills. Plus, we had our bed in the living room because we could only afford a one-bed and that went to the child.
It was a nightmare that I’ve mostly forgotten by now, but some days it keeps you awake at night. I was grumpy, but you were miserable. Around this anniversary, we thought our lives would never improve, that we would be stuck in horrid cycles forever.
And yet, we still made sure to get away for our anniversary. Some friends took care of our son and we went to enjoy the three best things we discovered in Denver: Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom, High Point Creamery, and See’s Candies.
We’ve always been a little food-centric, haven’t we?
But once again, hard times brought us closer together, not farther apart. We were partners in this suffering. You, Me, and God.
We should be hitting the Seven-Year Itch by now. The Seven-Year Itch is when Marilyn Monroe stands on a grate that blows her skirt about and one wonders, “Why doesn’t my wife let her skirt be blown about by lecherous grates anymore?”
But I don’t wonder that. In part because you’re a gloriously faithful and giving wife in that regard, but in part because you’re more than just a woman I live with. You are, as I said, my partner.
We’ve gone through heaven and hell, joy and misery, and we’ve done it all together. We forged one life, not two. And rather than find more reasons to hate each other, we’ve found more ways to make things work on instinct.
And this year is the hardest ever. We’re at the point where we’re living month by month, day by day, leaning on God for every step because we have absolutely nothing else.
Still, we get to go to Boise this year, even for just a few hours. We get to buy more See’s Candies. And we’ll be eating at Panera Bread–they called it St. Louis Bread Company back home, remember? Back when we would go there on dates?
So many adventures, and I’m eager for many more to come.
Happy Anniversary, my love. After seven years, I still only itch for you.