Back at the beginning of the summer, we had an afternoon when the kids were still in school and the days were quiet. While Isaac napped and we watched a movie – Inglourious Basterds, though why I can remember that but struggle to recall my own age is a mystery – I turned to Willem and said, “So. It’s been a seriously insane couple of months here.” He had to agree.
“I don’t think it’s going to get easier anytime soon.” Again, yes.
“You’ve done so much already, between taking care of me and keeping the kids alive and running the house. It’s a lot more than anyone ever expected, when we signed on for this marriage-and-family stuff.” True, that.
“So… do you regret your decision, now? If you knew then what you know now, would you have made the same choices? Married the same woman?” Of course.
“No, really. I know you’re not going to up and walk away now, because my brain can’t begin to process such a catastrophe so I have to know it. But think about it. You could’ve ended up with someone else… are you OK with where you’re at now? Would you marry me again, if marriage included an automatic review every decade?” Yes. I didn’t need to come so close to losing you, to know that I need you. To know I made the right decision. You’re just broken right now, but you won’t be broken forever. We’ll heal stronger than we were at the start.
“Awww, sweet. Thank you. I love you. So… let’s do it, then. Let’s get married again. It seems like it’s my turn to ask, this time. Will you? Will you marry me?” Yes. I will.
So, we started talking about it more as the summer progressed. The idea of rewriting vows, of having a new and different ceremony and party this time around. When we got married, October 14, 2000, it was a good day, a good time… but there were a lot of family pressures to have a certain style of get-together, to make sure enough of the extended family got invited, to choose flowers and attendants and a church. It was a good day, but not necessarily a very personal, individual sort of event. Not a lot about it that was very different from the million other weddings that happened on that day, except of course that it happened to us.
This time around, ten years later, we’re more settled and secure in our own preferences and ideas. I’m willing to push for a beach ceremony, even in October, because that feels more me, and we’re sending invitations only to the people we really want to be there; no otherwise-distant aunts or obligatory college buddies. We’ll write our own vows, maybe have a reading or two, but no attendants – because everyone we’re inviting will be part of the ceremony just by being there… life is too qualitative to try and rank my loved ones.
I gave Willem a couple of chances to change his mind… before I made the invitations, and then again before I put them in the mail. He continues to insist that he’s willing to hang out with me for a while longer, so we’ll have a celebration of our first ten years, with hopes that the next ten are a bit less… interesting. But with every challenge, we’ve grown closer, so it’s hard to regret any of it.