I can't believe I'm going to be this sappy in front of so many people. Oh, well. It is what it is.
I had this theory when I was young (and thinking about love) that for a marriage to succeed, those who entered into it had to be opposites: that on a big continuum of qualities and characteristics, each partner needed to be equidistant from the center line. This was largely based on observations of my parents, a definite marital success story, but by no means the only type. My mom is intense and expressive and passionate and (don't get mad, Mom) a bit of a reactionary and full of bluster. My dad only raises his voice to call the dog in, takes everything in stride, never gets ruffled, and, if I'm being honest, has a lot less to say than my mom does. This also means my dad is a bit oblivious to many of the little things that go on in a marriage, but never misses when it comes to the really big, really important parts. They were, individually and together, excellent examples for me as I was growing up, observing, and formulating my own ideas about what a truly committed partnership should be like.
When I was a teenager, I vividly remember watching some sappy, sad tv movie with my mom and my sister. They both cried through all the appropriate parts of the show, and while I could understand why they were moved, and I could have told you that it was sad, I did not react with the same level of emotion. It was always like this. I thought I was missing something, like part of my girl-genes were not plugged in the way they should be. It wasn't that I didn't feel things intensely -- I have always felt personal feelings and experiences with great intensity and passion -- but when it came to other people, or depictions of other people designed to evoke emotion, I still, somehow, remained detached, with rare exception. This makes me sound cold. Maybe I was -- engaged in my own life, but standing apart from everyone else's. Then, I could have waxed poetic for hours about a Dvorak symphony, and was frequently reduced to tears by a musical experience; I dove head-first into literature and identified acutely with the works and characters of the masters; but I was, to say the least, intense, more than a little self-centered and seriously lacking in the empathy/sympathy departments.
I don't honestly know how my family tolerated me.
I've already written The True Story of CPod and InkMom. Go read it if you haven't yet. It was fun to write, because I got to remember all the fun parts of dating and courtship. And while all the fun parts are an important part of the story, probably the best part, they barely scratch the surface of the changes that I underwent when I met this man.
Suddenly, I cried. At stuff I wouldn't have cried over before. I remember coming home for Christmas that year, getting teary-eyed over a vacuum commercial, and wondering what was wrong with me.
It's taken me a while to realize what happened, what strange power CPod held over my emotional self. But I think I've finally figured it out. For the first time in my life, I was thinking more about someone else than I was about myself. And it opened this door into . . . reality. I walked through it into a place where everyone, not just me, was experiencing heartache and happiness and shame and love and disappointment and joy and pain, and it was a world full of colors that I hadn't noticed before because I had been so focused on myself. He literally held the key to my heart, and with it, he flipped the switch on my ability to empathize, to see things from another perspective, to love.
We celebrated our 12th anniversary a week or so ago, and as I've reflected on our experiences together, I have marvelled at the Lord's visible hand in our lives. What if I had, actually, married another narcissistic musician? I shudder to think what a trial like, oh, I don't know, 7 years of infertility would have done to a marriage like that one. But for us, that trial solidified our commitment to one another, to live the Gospel, to be satisfied with the incredible blessings we already had just because we had each other.
I would argue that ours is one of the greatest love matches of all time. I hope everyone feels that way about their marriage. But I know it about mine. We are supremely, divinely, perfectly compatible. My heart still skips to feel the delicate touch of his hand on my arm, to meet his eyes across a room full of people and know that he is mine, to catch a glimpse of his tall and lanky figure in the audience from the stage during a concert, to see him chase around our clutch of rambunctious boys who all, contrary to genetic probability, look just like him.
William Shakespeare wrote many sonnets about love. My favorite is Number 116:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose Worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom:
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
This is what we have -- the marriage of true minds: that mellows and intensifies its flavors with age; that lasts through tempests (don't think we don't have them!) and stands constant while our ships, though moored together, float independently on the water; that inspires in its participants a desire to be better, and as a whole, accomplishes more than ever could be done individually. My successes are his successes, his triumphs, mine, and our sorrows are ours together. He humors my intellectual excesses, tempers my emotional instabilities, strengthens my spiritual frailties, encourages my outside endeavors, and keeps me laughing through all of it. And while I have been known to fail here and there, and my efforts sometimes fall short, I know that my presence in his life is just as essential to his happiness as his is to mine: equally yoked in more ways than one. Blessed. Lucky. Loved. Forever.
Happy anniversary to us.