I’m not very good at expressing how much I care about someone — always afraid it’ll sound trite or just really annoyingly mushy — but since we’re getting married in exactly 9 days, I thought I’d try my hand at an I-like-you-so-gosh-darn-much letter.
To My Love:
New lovers talk about how the world now feels brand new, as if bright, shining rainbows shoot out of all the formerly dark nooks and crannies of their lives and the entire world has been drenched in rose peddles and glitter. They make declarations of love based on the feeling that they can’t live or breathe or think or even put on their deodorant without their love by their side. Declarations that sound like symptoms of a bizarre medical condition: butterflies in the stomach, inability to eat, sleeplessness, and a newfound urge to compose torch songs.
Sure, infatuation is a pretty enjoyable high. I remember how after we started dating we stayed up texting until 2am comparing notes on our awkward “Does she/he like me too?” dance. Like the time you were getting together with a girl from school and I was jealous — really jealous — but wasn’t willing to admit it, not even to myself, so I tried to casually ask how your “hot date” had gone. You responded that if you were to go on a date with anyone, it’d be me.
Then, when I didn’t respond to your text message for half an hour, you thought it meant I wasn’t interested or that the idea of us dating made me uncomfortable. But, in reality, I’d burst into tears because I thought we were incompatible due to ideological differences, that it wasn’t going to work or maybe even shouldn’t work, and it’d taken thirty long minutes before I could take another stab at pretending to be calm and collected again.
Putting in Some Work
You know, it really is amazing that we managed to work things out despite a decent amount of social awkwardness on both sides. Not to mention a decent amount of ideological differences that we spent literally months discussing on a weekly basis — we read books and watched lectures, had disagreements and discussions, and finally decided that we were compatible — prior to me being willing to finally decide that, yes, we could date. People thought we were being slow or in denial about making it official, but we were wading our way through some pretty sticky stuff. And we really weren’t sure how it was going to turn out.
Sorting through all of that was enjoyable — you’re so thoughtful and brought a fresh prospective to ideas and beliefs that I hold dear — but also terrifying because I didn’t know if we’d be able to figure it out. I remember crying in the car that Christmas Eve as I told my mom how I thought that if we could figure out that ideological stuff, I wanted to marry you. But I was scared we might not be able to and that maybe it’d be a deal breaker, after all.
Just a few days later we finally worked it out. Everything wasn’t completely starched and ironed but we’d decided we were compatible on the major issues and were willing to be gracious on the minor ones. It’d been a year since we’d met, six months since you’d first made noises about wanting to date, and we were finally there. I cared about you so much that I even gave you my first kiss — something that was extremely precious to me — and told you that I loved you. Once you got home, you texted me and said you felt like you were walking on air. And so did I.
Then, Love Grows Up
It was fun texting until way after midnight, setting all those messy stories straight and being grateful we’d actually managed to figure things out enough to begin a relationship. Infatuation is fun. But there’s something almost childlike, perhaps even a little self-absorbed, about new lovers. “I love you because you make me happy” or “I love you because we’re completely perfect together and everything comes so easily, naturally” seem to be the main gist of the declarations. And I know we did it, too. I honestly thought we already had the whole communication thing down pat by the time I finally started introducing you as my boyfriend that December—but we had oh so much left to learn! In fact, here we are, going on three years later, we’ve even started reading books together about communication and relationships, and we’re still slowly but surely figuring it out.
For a little while, I felt like maybe we needed to get everything all neat and polished before finally tying the long anticipated nuptial knot. I felt like we should’ve read more marriage books by this point and had who would handle what chore all ironed out. But I realized that’s what’s so wonderful about marriage: it’s a commitment to see this complex relationship business through, to keep on learning, growing, and messing up together.
‘Til Death Do Us Part
That’s what you were saying that sunny spring day in Seattle as we strolled through the cemetery on the hill. As I nerded out about the evolution of death-related practices in America and admired the urban view, you looked at a gravestone of a married couple—his and her headstones—and said that’d be us someday. The level of commitment in the comment caught me up short. You weren’t being morbid or sad. You were saying that you wanted it to be only me. Forever. Until death do us part. You were saying that you loved me enough to give your entire life to me alone.
When I think about the future, I can echo your hope of being together until the grave. In fact, what scares me most when I think about the future is the harsh reality that some couples aren’t given the luxury of growing old together due to frail bodies and a beautiful, frightful thing called mortality. And I hope and pray — like most, if not all, almost-married couples do — that we are lucky in that regard because I could spend every day of the rest of my life with you. And even then, I feel like it still wouldn’t be enough.
When Broken People Say “I Do”
Things won’t be easy once we’re finally pronounced husband and wife; they already haven’t been easy, you know that. You’ve held me as I’ve cried as if my heart was going to die when the grief and loss from yet another Father’s Day slammed into my chest like a supersonic jet. You know how broken and scary I am. You know when I’m wearing my brave face in order to just get through the day. You know my insecurities—like hidden landmines, you’ve accidentally stepped on a few—and you try to make them better. And very slowly, with lots time, it helps.
You see me as braver, smarter, more beautiful, stronger, and kinder than I see myself. But you know I’m not perfect either and that I’m no fairy princess offering to grant you a life of ease. You know how well I can choose exactly the right word that’ll hurt and shock like jamming your finger in an electric socket when I’m feeling angry and especially when I’m hurt. You know my deepest heartaches that leave me shaking like a lost, scared little girl. You know there are scars on my heart of hearts—you’ve touched them, kissed them, cried over them. Even when I’ve felt like maybe you’ll give up on me now, maybe I’m too screwed up or too broken, you’re there. Steadfast. Loving. Unmoving. As you’e told me before, you’re not going anywhere.
When I was afraid the I-miss-my-daddy-so-gosh-darn-much-it-hurts feeling was going to intrude on the wedding day, you told me that you wanted me to be able to be open, honest about how I was feeling, especially with you. And that you were glad that soon we’d finally be married, so you could be there for me even better by holding me, if necessary, while I balled my eyes out on our wedding night. Sexy? Not in the least. Romantic? Absolutely, because it showed how much you care for me.
And I want to show you, m’dear, how I see you, too. Help the insecurities to fade a little — even though I can’t ever erase them just like you can’t erase mine — and be there to ease the worry lines. I want to act like your mirror by showing you what I see: you’re intelligent, compassionate, and loving. And I’m lucky to have met you. And even luckier to call you mine.
It’s Going to Take Work and Guts
I know that sharing a life together isn’t going to be easy, m’dear. Some horrible day in the future, one or maybe even both of us might even want out and we’ll have to hang on for dear life to each other. I know we’re both hardheaded and opinionated, so we’ll have our share of arguments (the silly and the not-so-silly kind). I know we both have hurts that are hidden so far inside of us that most people never even know they’re there, so sometimes we’ll accidentally hurt each other. We both have insecurities, so sometimes we’ll need reassuring. And, sometimes, we won’t be gentle or kind and we’ll need to forgive and learn to handle each other with more care.
We’re not airbrushed Hollywood actors staring in an epic romance—we’re real, we’re broken, we’re committed, and we’re in love. It’s not perfect but it’s beautiful in all its complex messiness. And we’re willing to put in the work. Lots of work. And that doesn’t mean that our love is less romantic than the new lovers. Sure, there’s still some glitter left over from the puppy stage but love — real love — a love that’s willing to work and willing to sacrifice has replaced the infatuation.
Marriage is the biggest adventure I’ve ever embarked on and it’s exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. But there’s no one else, m’dear, whom I’d rather share it with.
I only have one life to live, and it’s yours.
All my love,