You would think that after 14 years of marriage, I’d get over that gushy feeling you walk around with when you first fall in love. But the truth is that I still get that way. All the time. Because I know how blessed I am to have Erin as my wife.
Everything about her makes me that way. Her hair. Her smell. Her relentless drive to do right by God. She’s my best friend, lover and guiding light.
Like any marriage, we’ve had our issues over time. I’m not the guy I used to be. Not even close. She’s not the same person I married, either. But as the priest said at our wedding on Aug. 1, 1998: “You marry the person you think you know, then spend the rest of your lives getting to know each other.”
A big Rocky fan, this priest was. And he quoted the Italian Stallion in the wedding homily. In the first Rocky movie, the boxer starts dating a quiet, shy, plain-looking girl named Adrien. Rocky’s best friend is Adrien’s brother, Pauly, who asks Rocky what he sees in her. Rocky explains, “Because she has gaps! She’s got gaps and I got gaps, and between the two of us, our gaps meet and we sort of fill each other in.”
It doesn’t always work out that way. I have friends who had seemingly unshakable marriages that crumbled in the end. These divorces have scared us, because they show how easily a marriage can fall apart.
It’s also true that as couples get older, communication gets harder. You get comfortable and set in a routine. And once children enter the picture, there’s precious little time to focus on each other.
Some married couples stop talking about these things and drift apart. Erin and I decided several months back to face the issue head on. Not because we’re mad at each other, because we’re not. Ours is not a marriage in trouble. But we know that when a couple stops communicating long enough, the relationship can deteriorate. Since we love each other, we’re not going to let that happen. Pure and simple.
We’re accepting that as we get older, we need more maintenance. That goes for how we talk to each other and how we connect on a spiritual level.
In some ways, those gaps Rocky spoke of grew wider over the years, and we’re just now getting the hang of filling in each other’s gaps.
That’s OK, though. Everything happens by God’s timetable.
This past year has been a lot of work. I’ve been trying to break down my wall with everything I have. I’ve knocked a lot of bricks loose, but new bricks seem to grow in over time. Meantime, Erin has been giving her all to confront her own issues. Some might see that as too much to take, but not me. There have been a lot of beautiful moments in the journey. In many ways, I feel like we’ve reconnected in ways we haven’t seen in a very long time.
The work will never be done, and that’s fine with me. Because it’s a labor of love.
Happy anniversary, Honey.