Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I recently realized that Bryan and I have officially spent ten Valentine’s Days together. TEN! We’ve only been married three years, but we started dating my senior year of high school. (We also met for the first time at thirteen, so suffice it to say that he’s been through a lot with me.)
A lot of people are talking about love this week…and with good reason. Love is an important, hard, confusing, incredible, life-changing topic—and there’s a lot to say. In ten years of loving Bryan, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things about love. At the very least I can say that what I thought I knew about love and marriage has totally shifted.
When you’re with someone for ten years, change is inevitable. The world will change. Your lives will change. Your relationship will change. And you will both change, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Bryan and I are both very different people from the two teenagers who went on their first day to see a Reese Witherspoon movie over a decade ago. As we’ve grown and changed, we’ve had to choose love again and again. We’ve had to decide to grow together instead of apart. We’ve had to choose to accept the way the other person has changed, even when it wasn’t what we wanted. And during that time, I have learned two very important things about love…
First, I’ve learned that love is hard. This seems obvious, but I think that love—and marriage in particular—is hard in ways that you can’t understand until you’re in the thick of it. There are so many big things to fight about, like sex and money and family and planning for a future. But there are also the little things, from laundry to dirty dishes to stealing the covers, that can pile up and become the things that break you if you let them. There is disappointment and frustration and worry. And the choosing is hard, too. Choosing to put the other person first. Choosing to let things go. Choosing to love someone who you don’t particularly like all the time. Love is about selflessness and sacrifice, and those two things are never easy.
But I’ve also learned that love is so, so worth it. Over the past ten years, we’ve graduated from college and grad school and found careers that bring us fulfillment. We’ve lived in two apartments and bought out first house. We’ve cooked meals together and made plans and travelled all over the world. We’ve grieved together and learned how to share. We brought home the world’s sweetest puppy and said “I love you” more times than I can count. Together, we’ve built a whole life.
When I look at Bryan, I still see my very best friend in the whole world. I see a partner and someone I fully trust and respect. I see someone who makes me laugh and brings out a freer, more content version of myself. There is never a day when I don’t feel safe in his love.
In ten years, I can think of so many things I’ve done wrong. I can think of fights I regret and words I wish I could take back. I can think of mistakes and failings, both as a wife and just as a person. But here we are, ten years later, and the love is still here—strong and steady and in it for the long haul. Ten years can be a long time to love someone. Thank goodness we’re just getting started.