License to Drive (A Marriage Letter)

Today, Amber and I reached our 16th year of marriage. (Friday the 13th? Don't worry. I don't believe in omens.) I'm commemorating with another installment of marriage letters.


Dear Amber,

The first days were infantile and cooing. Babies in marriage, we were unsure how to use our limbs, how to use our bodies in tandem connection.

These are the things you're never told: it takes time to acclimate to the shape of another person's body; it takes even more time to acclimate to the division of a closet.

There came the days of toddler marriage, the two of us tripping into the mine, mine, mine stage. Money, art, love--we shared sparingly, but thought ourselves generous.

These are the things you are never told: the generosity of love is a death of sorts.

In the pre-school days of marriage, we asserted our independence, tried our best to put distance between each other. We explored the great wide world of other shiny possibilities. We stole glances at lovers--careers, faith, maybe even people--but kept falling back into the same bed. That bed, it was the place of our pulling together.

These are the things you are never told: real love is like a magnet, always pulling, pulling, pulling so long as you keep opposite poles facing one another.

After a decade of walking this covenant, we settled into an easier love. Career, church, children--each was more complex. But our needles were set in a good groove, a worn one. Relationship made more sense, better music, even if we spun into a blues ballad from time to time.

These are the things you are never told: marriage and jazz are kissing cousins; if the music is still playable ten years later, it has a shot to be something classic.

It's been sixteen years today, and I feel like we've finally figured out how to drive this thing. The permits have turned into licenses. We've inherited a used car, but it's a beauty. We know how to drive to work, to school, to the grocery store. We've know the way to Lover's Lane, too (the metaphorical one, not the one up by the Furlow's house). Sixteen years--can you believe it? Let's take the car for a spin tonight?

These are the things you are never told: every year of marriage can be a little better than the last, but only if you let it be.

Happy Anniversary,



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