On Being Married a Year

“Anniversaries are like birthdays, except together!” — Scott Humpherys

This weekend we handed a wedding gift to two friends at a cookout while touching the belly of another friend ready to give birth any day. This really is the season of our lives and here we are, celebrating one year of marriage on Saturday.

As I’m writing this, Scott is painting a coffee table in the middle of our living room floor.

The paper flowers that were at our reception are on the table next to me.

We are listening to LFO on iTunes Radio because we can.

I don’t think I can offer you advice on being married after only one year of marriage. But I can tell you the story of the last year.

I remember sitting at fireworks on the Fourth of July, 2014, thinking, “In one week, we will be married.”

I could hear all the Emilys in my head. Emily at 18 was excited about the dress in my closet and the paper flowers and books that would decorate the reception. Emily at 22 was thinking about the vows and promises that would be made — the mystery of the spiritual binding together. Emily at 25 was ready to go on our adventure to Asheville, NC. Emily at 28 was overcome with the last three years of relationship with the man sitting next to her and the community that would surround her in the coming days.

I knew in marriage Scott’s voice, person, and entire story would be added to the Emilys in my head. But even more miraculously, there would be a new voice — the one that was growing in strength and light, like the sun creeping over the Earth to announce the dawn.

If I could string all the moments of the last year together, I’d want to decorate our back porch with them so we could remember everything we’ve become in our first year. I’d want to revisit my favorite memories of standing with people in our kitchen after dinner, talking about our lives. I’d point out all the bike rides and surprises we participated in and that one time we carved pumpkins on my parents’ deck while the moon rose.

There’d be all the defining moments — like the card ride to Indiana when we decided to move to St. Louis. We said it like it was a secret because our lives were so ensconced in our small town. But even then, I felt our little marriage step out on its own as we started to make decisions to build our lives.

I still remember standing in my parents’ kitchen and getting the call that the-people-with-the-house accepted our offer. Scott’s face was mixed with elation and terror. Fast forward to 3 am that next morning, both of us awake, wondering how we would afford children and their winter coats.

There are so many moments that look exactly the same — like Scott sitting on one side of the couch frustrated and me sitting on the other side of the couch crying. Our need to be right replaced with the humility of understanding and being on the same page. My heart loves these moments because grace and peace and patience met us there.

In all of it, love. Love building and breaking walls and making breakfast. Love as constant as the ocean tide.

In my last job, I talked about love a lot — pleading roommates to get along, counseling over boyfriend issues, defining the word community. But in this little house in front of the park, away from everything we’ve known before, I’ve practiced love with all I’ve got, and received it with just as much force. And somehow, the capacity to love just keeps getting bigger. How does that work? What are the physics of relationships expanding?

Living in this love means I want my arms to be strong in holding others, my words to be gracious and true, and my heart and mind to always be looking for the best — living that story into reality. Because that’s marriage — a commitment to life, in all of it’s normal, boring, sweet moments, singing songs of love and invitation.

I hope Emily at 32 looks back at the beginning years of our marriage and remembers the person Emily at 29 is becoming. I hope the sweetness of Scott having pizza and old movies ready after long Friday nights at work doesn’t fade into the larger moments of job change and life decisions. Because this year has been one of my favorites.

If you’re getting married soon, be prepared for love to meet you on your front door. It comes in the form of your neighbors living next to you, your spouse accepting you at your most human, and the ability to make choices together that change the course of people’s lives. Because nothing is more life changing than the constant decision to give and receive love.

Our year anniversary is on Saturday. Any favorite traditions you’ve done to celebrate?

Originally published at www.emilyhumpherys.com on July 7, 2015.

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