I watched you the other day, your white dress feathered across the fallen leaves. You had a bouquet in your hands and brightness in your eyes. You probably saw me walk by – I was the woman with the stroller, jogging up and down the path past the spot your photographer had you posed. I couldn’t help but watch you.
I watched the photographer fix your dress, the tulle spread like dew on the grass. The orange leaves licked like fire around the fringes and you smiled, clear with newness and joy. And he looked at you the way I did, but in a deeper way because he knows you, and what he knows, he loves.
I haven’t been married twenty years. I can’t even give you the advice of ten years’ experience. Only a few years ago I stood where you stand, in a white dress, all newness and joy. So I can’t dispense sage advice or speak to the trials of time, but I can tell you this: Don’t let it go.
They tell you the rose-colored glasses come off. And the newness you feel now – that excitement of standing on the brink – it will unfold into the new-old of day to day, still novel, yet normal. Don’t let it go. Don’t let go of the newness when the days age, and they will. Normal can swiftly become mundane for those who lose their grasp on the adventure of it all.
The excitement of ordinary days is not something that occurs on its own, like a force of nature. It is instead the force of intentionality, brought about by the force of a human nature, the person who chooses to elevate the ordinary out of the mundane. When your registry items are shelved and making dinner for two is less cute and more inconvenient, remember this day in the city park. Remember how he looked at you and how you felt. Remember that this is what you hoped for, and don’t let it go.
The newlywed days are quickly consumed with careers and trips, family and friends, vacations and dates and dogs and, if you’re like me, positive pregnancy tests. You have less time than you think, and the moments pass quickly. But even the ordinary moments become something more when you hold it tightly to your heart and see that this… THIS was your wedding day dream.
It won’t always be glamorous. You’ll have suds on your elbows and a morning commute. He’ll come home grumpy and some days you’ll fight. The days will be long, but the years – oh so short. There will come another fall where you’ll see the flaming orange and red and wonder how time fell so fast, the days spinning like autumn leaves, mounding up in colorful piles before fading into the past.
You’ll get used to the day to day: the way he makes coffee before you get up, the notes he leaves on the refrigerator, how he opens your car door and the pickle jars. You’ll even get used to his quirks, though they might never cease to bother you – how he can never find the hamper, how he forgets to take out the trash, or how the bathroom light is left on. It will become normal, but it never needs to be mundane.
You’ll get used to it all, but don’t let it go. Hold it in your heart, hold him in your arms, and hold the memory in your mind. The dreams you had as you stood under that tree in city park, with all the brightness of fall around you and the brightness of love in your heart – those dreams are today. They are now. Marriage is not made of the highlights – little peaks of escapism from the honeymoon to your next cruise. The real joy of marriage is in the umpteenth load of dishes and washing pans while he folds the laundry, because he hates dishes and you hate to fold. It’s the prayers you pray. It’s the search for a new job. It’s slow build of trust, the growth of love, that gives height to an even deeper joy than you feel right now.
Don’t let it go.
You’ll get used to this new life you’re entering, even in a few years. But don’t be afraid if it becomes ordinary. Ordinary is what it’s supposed to be. It’s the ordinary days that contain all the magic – the magic of this moment in your wedding dress, if we stop to see the romance of it. Because while this is romantic – the way his arm is around you, the way he’s lifting you up against the backdrop of fall – there is romance in the kiss by the kitchen sink. There is a vow in the steadiness of daily love.
Too often, we let it slip away, stolen by impatience and discontent. But you don’t have to live that way. Just as you’ll hold on to this moment in the park, captured in gleaming color and hung on the wall of your first apartment, you can capture the first moments of your marriage and keep them. You can memorialize the novelty in the normal, making special what too many fail to see.
You might get used to this new life, but you can always appreciate its newness.
The first year of marriage is rose-colored, yes. But I don’t think it’s because of the glasses. I think every year of marriage has that hue, but some people start to go color-blind, worn down by the ordinary and the mundane, or sometimes by pain and difficulty. But the rosiness isn’t in those perfect moments, strung together in a seamless life – the roses grow along those narrow paths just wide enough for two, so narrow you might get pricked by their thorns. But don’t let the pain or the path steal the joy you feel now. Embrace each moment, no matter how ordinary. Hold onto his hand, hold onto these moments – and don’t let them go.