1. The top-secret trick to staying married is not getting divorced. (You can thank me later for that little gem.)
2. Sometimes, the reason you don’t get divorced is because the thought of going through this process with yet another human makes you want to bury yourself alive. And yet, that is somehow enough.
3. The thing nobody tells you though is that if you keep going for whatever reason, you may wake up one day and realize all the shit that used to plague you is gone, though it hasn’t necessarily been resolved. You just don’t care anymore and it’s freeing as hell.
4. I spent a lot of years trying to change Mac into more of what I had in mind. Eventually I realized there is one question to ask myself: “Are his flaws deal-breakers?” If yes, leave. If not, accept that shit and move on. HE WILL NEVER ORGANIZE THE CLOSETS, JANELLE. But you will probably always yell on Sundays.
5. Playing the “who’s a bigger dick/does more work” score-keeping game ends in nothing but hellish resentment (and somehow me always being the “better partner” even though let’s be honest I’m pretty much always the asshole). For example: “I did the dishes 9 times so you owe me 6 laundry loads also I birthed the children so you owe me your entire goddamn life but then again you have done ironwork for 10 years to support us but still I’m higher on the pole of marital glory because, well, from my perspective I’m the victim here. Also, I multi-task and you can’t find shit in the fridge. Ever.” No. This is a pointless routine. He sucks and I suck but we suck differently and therefore we will be perpetually annoyed. Cool. Now let’s watch Netflix. (Also, sometimes I AM in fact capable of doing more and sometimes HE is. There is balance, but never spreadsheet “equality.”)
6. It’s not about deciding how I need to be loved and punishing him for failing to meet my fantasy. It’s about opening myself to the ways he shows love, in gestures and songs and movements perhaps I never even thought of, and could never see before because I was too damn busy focusing on the ways he was failing. Mad love is built, not found.
7. In related news: I thought partners were supposed to “fulfill me” and “make me whole.” Now I know I have to make myself whole so I can love another completely.
8. You can base an entire marriage on friendship and it will still mostly work, even if you suck at being adult life partners (e.g. “sound decision-making,” general maturity, budgeting, “household organization,” keeping dog shit off the lawn, et fucking cetera). Last weekend we celebrated our anniversary by Christmas shopping for our kids, eating sushi, and hanging out in a hotel room naked watching movies and eating gummy bears in bed. We are really good at hanging out, and sometimes that’s all we’re good at, but it’s ENOUGH.
9. Which reminds me: Fuck Hallmark cards. Fuck Meg Ryan movies. Fuck commercials. Fuck the neighbor’s marriage. Fuck all the comparisons. We are us.
10. Kids don’t make a marriage better, but they sure as hell make it bigger.
11. When I focus on not being a dick, somehow my husband becomes less of a dick. (Weird.)
12. Once, Mac told me, “I can always trust you to be exactly who you are” and that’s the most romantic thing he’s ever said because he trusts me to be me and sticks around anyway.
13. The other day, after helping me the ten-thousandth time with the same ridiculous task, Mac teased me but said, “It’s okay, Janelle. I will always help you again.”
14. And I think that is what this whole thing becomes: Two people who say, “I will always help you again.” I will always come back, come near and come close, to be with you because you are you, and I am me, and together we have something worth keeping.
15. I always thought love felt like floating in the clouds. Now I know it feels like the ground beneath my feet, and the sense of a friend sharing the sunlight.
Happy 15 years, Mac.
I will always help you again.