Love is tricky. Even from its infancy, it is held together by emotions make you want to put your tongue in someone else’s mouth, and how can anything that inspires that kind of behavior be trusted?
It starts like this: You meet someone whose face you like to look at, and you immediately suck in your gut and pray they like the looks of you, too. Maybe you follow the high school hookup strategy where mediators are used to scope the situation.
“Who do you like?” your bestie may ask the object of your affection. She reports back her findings, and if the answer is favorable, you take it to the next level by talking to his best friend. After much sniffing around and many backroom negotiations, you eventually end up awkwardly holding hands at the movies, and then IT IS ON. Or not, and your friend ends up talking to your crush so frequently on your behalf, she eventually marries him and spends a lifetime ignoring his not infrequent transgressions.
You dodged a bullet on that one, didn’t you?
College dating often cuts out the middle man, or replaces your relationship scout with your new friend, alcohol. If a couple tells you they met in college through a mutual friend, oftentimes that “friend” was Captain Morgan.
More and more people are meeting online, with dating sites understanding how hard it is to meet someone you want to trade saliva with for eternity when the only eligible bachelors in your life are that weird guy at work and your hot (but probably gay) barista.
However you find that special someone, there comes a time when you find yourself thinking, “Could his monkey feet be any cuter?” or “It’s so adorable how he flings obscenities at motorists on the freeway.”
At this point you wonder if he could be THE ONE. You can’t decide which mole on his back is the sexiest, and he’s so funny, you could listen to his jokes forever.
This is it.
Anyone who has gotten dressed up to sign a life sentence with a smile knows what happens next.
If you aren’t pregnant on day three of marriage, your mother is disappointed, and everyone from your grandfather to your mail carrier begins asking you when you’re having a baby. This constant badgering eventually convinces you to grow a human inside your belly, and pretty soon your body, like your last name, is no longer your own.
Marriage looks different when you and your beloved are parents. You love your husband even more because you co-created your new very favorite person, but you also hate him a little because he can sleep through anything, including the middle of the night wails of your baby.
You’re proud of the fact that your baby likes you the most, but it’s like your husband isn’t even trying to win this competition, making the victory less sweet.
Eventually the babies aren’t babies any more, and they are making their own lunches and wiping their own asses. You’ve forgiven your husband for getting more sleep than you, and you fall in love with him a little more every time he reads the kids a book or reminds them to use the bathroom before leaving the house.
You slide into a new normal, where you are in charge of all birthdays, both extended family and the millions of parties your kids are invited to, and he is in charge of taking out the trash and fixing the infinite list of things around the house that are broken, bent, or cracked.
He knows when his mother’s birthday is, but if the card doesn’t go out in time, it’s on you. Similarly, if he forgets to take the trash to the curb on garbage day it’s not getting done, even though you know good and well what day garbage day is.
You still love the monkey feet, but find them infinitely more adorable on your kids. Sometimes his chewing drives you crazy, but you find out from your girlfriends that every married person in the history of the world feels the same way, so you focus on the fact that he likes your cooking.
Or at least he pretends to like your cooking.
The hilarious jokes are not as funny anymore, but you both love making fun of your kids, and it’s comforting to know that they’ll never stop doing stupid stuff to make you look at each other and stifle smirks.
Is it worth it?
Your love is older, softer, and calmer. It is fuller, and louder, and busier. Date nights are far less frequent than family movie nights, but you are both happy.
Proud of the life you’ve created together.
Committing to sharing a bed and a bathroom with one person forever is no small task, but life’s a journey, and I’ve always preferred my road trips with a partner.