It was six years ago on this date and this day of the week where I said the words "I Do." Without a doubt, the two most important words of life that have led to my biggest moments. But the reality is that any schmuck can blurt out those two words and agree to committing their life to someone, because as a human race, we're not always the best at thinking through the consequences. I think as the years go by and the wedding date become more distant, one tends to start elevating that day a bit more and putting more weight into it, because while it is the very important start to the most important relationship, its only value is essentially nostalgia and possible fondly remembering when one was thinner (and had more hair).
"I Do" are just words. Words that are your declaration to those in attendance that you are committing your life to the person you were staring at that moment (unless out of nervousness you were staring at your shoe or your great aunt Hilda). It is the work you do after that really matters. It is the daily reaffirmation that those two words actually had some meaning and not just something one said because it felt like the right thing.
There is no denying marriage is work. Love isn't some magical elixir that drives your through every day and makes it all gum drops and unicorns. Because sometimes that unicorn rams his horn in the most uncomfortable of places. Love exists. I really believe that. It is the feeling and drive that makes you push through to do the work that makes a marriage flourish.
Marriage isn't just work, but it is hard work. Maybe even gruelling and uncomfortable sometimes. It would be a lot easier to just get a single apartment and share it with a pet hamster (because if work isn't your thing then don't get a dog either -- besides, people seem to get less upset about a dead hamster). Marriage may be one of the toughest things a person will have to do in their life, because in the ideal, it never ends after you sign the papers.
But here is the thing about hard, gruelling, tough, and sometimes uncomfortable work, it isn't bad. Sometimes work that makes you strain and rise way above your comfort zone can be magnificent, rewarding, fulfilling, and amazing. Let me clarify right now that being married to Emily is most definitely magnificent, rewarding, fulfilling, and amazing.
It is just that where we are now and where we hopefully will be in 6 years has less to do with those two words and more about the work we're willing to put into our marriage. Work that intensifies when you decide to throw that lovely child into the mix. The work also creates the passion and reminds you why you said those words way back. The work is what makes the marriage real.
Work is saying, "I love you" when you don't totally believe it at the moment. Work is cleaning the house when you don't think it is dirty. Work is intricately planning a special weekend for your spouse when you'd rather catch-up on your House of Cards binging. Work is not buying the new toy so that you can afford that special weekend. Work is asking your spouse about her day and actually caring and listening. Work is telling the person how you actually feel, even when those feelings scare you. Work is the cogs of marriage.
Anything that can be considered a treasure and of priceless value demands one put forward dedication, focus, and here is that word again, work. If it really matters and if you're doing it right, not only is the end game rewarding but the actual work can be pretty spectacular too.
My marriage with Emily has resulted in almost everything that currently matters to me. Emily has taken sacrifices and kicked my ass so that I have something that resembles a writing career. As that career grows, I know she will continue to support (i.e. the ass kicking) my writing endeavors. I have a dog that I love and has been an incredible source of emotional support because Emily pushed that we had a dog (I was ambivalent at the time). Anyone who knows me, is well aware I'm a gushing father and that I love Everett dearly, and I can't imagine my life without him, and well, Emily is pretty responsible for that too. While I wouldn't necessarily call my house one of the most important things ever, I really dig living in a large home that feels like it is in cottage country and Emily deserves most of the credit for that too.
She is far more than my motivator and the one who gave me whole lots of amazing things. She is my wife. This means she is my best friend. My inspiration. My muse. In order to make sure she remains the most important person in my life and in order for her to be willing to be that person, I have to work hard to keep the passion, energy, and love going strong.
But our marriage is worth more than I could ever truly explain in words. I hope my work for the next several decades proves that.
I love you, Emily.