Before I even begin writing like I know anything about marriage after five years, I want to dutifully acknowledge that many a marriage veteran might argue that Aaron and I are still in our “honeymoon phase,” haven’t even reached the “seven year itch” yet, or been outnumbered by children (“You just wait!” I can hear them saying, fingers wagging…).
I told Aaron the other day that I am nicknaming five years the “Cupcake Anniversary” – not something grandly celebrated with the elegant tiered cake of a wedding, or worthy of the giant inscribed sheet cake of a 25th anniversary. But I do see five years as marriage’s first mini milestone – and I think we’ve earned at least a cupcake.
So how have things changed since 5 ½ years ago when I was sitting on a snow-covered dock at Green Lake on Christmas Eve, cracking open champagne with the man I’d just gleefully agreed to marry?
So, obviously, that hasn’t changed, right? Right….
Aaron has seen me roaring mad, sobbing sad, toilet-hugging sick and ugly as a stick. He’s seen me pretty, pregnant, in shape, out of shape, in Spanx (which is when you’re out of shape/naked, but in shape/clothed), jetlagged, sleep-deprived, road-raging, praying, cursing and everything in between. I like to call it “Fifty Shades of Cray.”
And yes, newlyweds, it can (and will) happen to you. But don’t lose heart – it gets better!
Over five years there has always been excitement in our relationship – it’s just that the causes and manifestations of that excitement have morphed dramatically. The excitement of five years ago was butterflies in my stomach sneaking off at work to read Aaron’s countless romantic texts. It was our first kiss on his couch and spending endless hours in the hot tub of our apartment building. Wearing fancy pajamas to bed more often than not and cuddling even if it was uncomfortable.
The excitement of today is different, but deeper. Instead of the rush of emotions that come with all those heart-fluttering “firsts” in a new relationship, now we get excited about things that were far from our radar back then. Like picking out throw pillows to spruce up our new house, or ordering the highest-reviewed baby swing from Amazon. Or putting that first deposit into our baby’s college fund. We get excited about buying ingredients for dinner at the farmers market, reading each other passages from business magazines and self-help books, and the rare yet blissful occurrence that is sleeping past 8 a.m.
If there’s one “key to a good marriage” I think we’ve found it’s this: Find sustainable joy. What I mean by this is find everyday habits, hobbies, and routines that make you – as a couple – happy and connected, even in the simplest of ways. For us, there are certain things we’ve just always done, that have never changed – like taking regular “coffee walks” (first with dog, now with baby and sometimes dog) through every neighborhood we’ve lived in, going to bed at the same time, even if it’s just to sense each other’s company as we read (or email…) side-by-side to wrap up our day. Curling up on the couch for an episode of our TV addiction du jour, or carving out a couple of hours each week for a meal out and a well-made cocktail. These are the traditions we have sustained that contribute to our rhythm as a couple. They are the simple, everyday things that make us tick, and give us little things to look forward to each day and each week together.
Things may be less “exciting” in some ways – there is nothing like those early days of getting to know each other and pinching yourself as you’re falling in love – but in other ways, our life has gotten more exciting every year as our relationship, family, business and personal interests have grown and changed us.
I know that we’re still young and fairly new at this marriage business, but I feel like we’ve graduated from the “honeymoon” stage. My life is more t-shirts and ponytails than hot tubs and fancy hairdos these days, but at the end of the day (even the crazy ones…) I am overall happier in a deeper way, wiser for the wear, and more comfortable in my own skin.
When we go out to dinner now, our dates may not have quite the same carefree flirtatious flutters of five years ago, but these days, we have so much more to celebrate, and so much more to hurry home to.
Happy 5th Anniversary, Aaron. If I could, I’d erase a few of my most cringe-worthy shades of cray… but other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.