When Hubs and I decided that we wanted to get married, I called my people on a Monday and announced, “I’m getting married on Friday! If you want to attend, that’s awesome. If you can’t make it, I understand.”
People were surprised but not shocked. I have always done things my own way.
At the time, Hubs and I had been living together. We knew we wanted to get married. We went back and forth about what our wedding would look like. I had learned he was planning to save for this custom-designed engagement ring which would take at least another two years. I didn’t want to wait two years for a ring. That seemed silly to me. He said he only did it because he thought I needed an expensive engagement ring. By the end of the evening, we agreed that all we really wanted was a marriage. We started putting things in motion.
This decision crushed all the traditional social mores: engagement photos, engagement parties, showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, saying yes to the dress; I slaughtered all of them.
And I stand by our decision.
I didn’t have a binder of wish-list of white wedding ideas stashed somewhere. I didn’t find big weddings especially romantic. From a narrative perspective, I liked stories about secret weddings.
But in all honestly, I was terrified to have a wedding. I had such low self-worth at the time, that I believed that if I had a traditional wedding and sent out invitations, no one would show up. I really believed that no one would want to go to the trouble of seeing me get married. It was this false narrative that swirled in my head. I knew my family would be there because they were obligated to be, but no one else would want to actually be there for me. I didn’t want to live through that experience or carry around that worry, either. If this day was supposed to be my day, then I was going to do it my way.
So I skipped the drama. We eloped. And it was wonderful.
This year, we celebrate nineteen years together. It doesn’t feel like it’s that long, but the growing teen in our living room makes it all very real. We’ve moved together from the small town of Murray, Kentucky to a little larger Paducah, Kentucky, to even larger Lexington, Kentucky and then eventually to the great city of Atlanta, Georgia. I was working at Walmart when we married after quitting my newspaper reporter job, and now I’m a doctor (but not that kind of doctor), novelist, and instructor. Hubs went from reporter to editor, to student, to attorney. We had babies, went on family vacations, and mourned the loss of loved ones. We have fought over stupid things and made up over even stupider things.
When we watch TV together, and spot a romantic couple, whenever it gets to a super romantic, swoony moment, I always turn to Hubs and say, “Look, babe. It’s us. Every love story is our love story!” He shakes his head like I’m ridiculous, but I stand by it. Romantic relationships don’t fall into categories like TV and movies. Sometimes we’re like Jim and Pam meeting at the gas station in the rain and deciding to get married, and sometimes we’re more like Bud and Sissy having an argument outside of a country bar, (although to be more accurate, it’s probably more like Jackie and Kelso). Imperfect and also perfect.
Recently on a shuttle from the parking garage to the airport, we spotted an older couple bickering because she didn’t know the correct numbers for something and he was trying to correct her but she was only kind of listening. When Hubs and I stepped from the shuttle, he turned to me and said, “See, babe. Every love story is our love story.”
Of course, it is, babe. I’ve always said so.
For all of those who are celebrating anniversaries this month, I wish you the happiest of celebrations.