When you fall in love at 19, people talk. People think that you’re naïve. That you’re too young to understand love and commitment. And if you choose to marry young then you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out.
So we waited. We waited until we were 22. And still, people talked. They said, “When you marry young you still have so much growing to do. You’ll change. He’ll change. You might become totally different people.”
After five years of marriage I can say that they were right.
We are different people and Lord knows I’ve changed. Sometimes I feel guilty that this woman who shares your bed now is not the girl you married. It feels like false advertising. As though I promised you one thing and delivered another.
But then, you’re not the boy I married either. And I love you more because of it.
See, love is not one fixed shape. It’s elastic. It stretches like a balloon or a gum bubble or the belly of a woman around the body of her child. Its parameters are set by the beloved.
Maybe marriage starts with “I love who you are now, today, in this moment,” but it is also, “I will love who you become.”
Marriage means our roots are intertwined. No matter which direction you grow, you can only go so far from me. We are hopelessly tangled. And this is a miracle. This is why we say that marriage is holy. Because it requires an act of God.
I will change and you will change and we may grow in different ways that are impossible for us to imagine. But love will grow as we do. Sometimes it will grow easily and naturally. Sometimes it will require work, like a master gardener prunes and weeds and coaxes a sapling. It might be hard, but hard and bad are not the same thing, Love.
After more than eight years of loving I can see that every change in you is a gift to me. I get to discover a new part of you, and the more I know you, the more I love you. It makes me wonder if the people who grow bored with their relationships are simply the people who stop changing.
Yesterday you asked me for something simple and easy to give and I snapped. I sighed. I exaggerated. I may have even stomped my feet. But after a few minutes I came back. I was embarrassed. I apologized.
And you wrapped your arms around me and lifted my feet from the ground, which always makes me feel small even on a fat day. Then you put one hand behind my head and planted the other on the small of my back and pressed me into your body. We swayed back and forth in our little kitchen without any music and I fell in love for the thousandth time.
Note: The photographer for this picture can now be found at http://www.grainandcompass.com