What Is Left of a Marriage

Ten years. In a decade, those fluffy towels have migrated to the basement, faded and threadbare. The dinner plates once registered for — the ones reviewers warned were fragile — have been shattered, one by one, as if methodically, and replaced with a mishmash you hate. The slow cooker died when its insert shattered; the toaster oven was given to a friend when it wouldn’t fit in the moving van.

Our bodies, too, are grown more ragged. The slim figure that once slipped into a wedding dress now spills over with the work of nourishing three babies. Wrinkles begin their sly colonization of your eyes, weathered by squinting through a hundred road trips, a thousand bike commutes. The white hairs found on a black shirt are now just as likely to be ours as the white haired dog’s — the dog gradually becoming pudgy and arthritic as she, too, approaches ten years old.

Sure, some things have survived the first decade. There’s the beautiful crystal plate Granny gave us days after our engagement, the first thing that was ever truly ours, not mine or yours, and to which we’ve added everything: a houseful of treasures and junk, fifteen years of friendship, three children beautifully, inextricably ours. But for everything that’s endured there is so much shed by the wayside, cheerfully, casually, sorrowfully, its wedding registry shine slowly eroded until only faded planes and chipped edges remain.

What is left then, as the glamor of youth and novelty fall away, is love unadorned and refined. A deep comradeship remains, having navigated sickness and health, exultation and exhaustion (dragging, consuming, more than we would have believed we could bear). Three children, one blue-eyed, one green, one brown, testify to an enduring love: kisses at partings, sharp words exchanged in the rush out the door, apologies proffered time and time again.

In our comfortable bodies and our comfortable rhythms, on our shabby couch, in the reprieve of evening lamplight, you look up from your laptop and reach for my hand. I set down my book, shift the nursling, smile swiftly, take your hand. We settle closer, resume our tasks, buoyed and grounded by what remains.

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11 thoughts on “What Is Left of a Marriage

  1. ❤ Very happy anniversary to one of the most wonderful couples I've ever had the pleasure of knowing!! Here's hoping life crosses our paths again soon… but in the meantime, thanks for continuing to share your world here. 🙂

    Like

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