What were you doing five years ago?
I was in Washington DC, sweating in the June heat while we visited monuments and museums. Two days earlier we stood at the front of our church and got married. I remember what my cousin told me the night before: “There is no ball and chain.” How right he was.
Many times, I have reflected that I would not have had the good sense to marry my wife if I had met her any earlier. I would have felt like I was tying myself down, or rushing into something. I would have tried to play it cool, act all laid back about it like I did so well. And I would have passed her by, not knowing what I was missing. But it’s one of heaven’s mercies that it didn’t turn out that way. I met her at the right time. Still humbled from other failures, but learning from them and growing in the process.
She knew before I did. She says she knew right away. Even with everything I just said, I didn’t know how wonderful she was right away. But she was fun to hang out with, so we were friends. Then it became obvious that I wanted to hang out with her all the time, so we started dating. Then I realized I never wanted to stop hanging out with her, so getting married seemed like the right move.
“There is no ball and chain.” Those words have stuck with me over five years, the most important advice anyone gave me. It’s all about the mindset. No longer doomed to flit around wondering if someone did or didn’t know I existed. No more fear that the next move would result in a breakup. No more pressure to make small talk over dinner and a movie. No more analyzing signals to figure out what she meant. It’s just living with someone all the time, and the assurance that no matter what happens that person will always be there, as long as they are able.
I’ve told my single friends that marriage would be hell if I were married to anyone besides my wife, and I do not exaggerate. It’s not that I believe there is only one person for everyone, because I do not. Love is a choice, one that you make every day. Falling in love is lightning in a bottle, but actually loving someone is really what it’s about, and that’s something you choose to do intentionally, something that’s possible with a variety of people.
Having said that, there’s no one I’d rather drink coffee with, no one I’d rather raise kids with, no one I’d rather eat leftovers with, and yes, no one I’d rather fight with than her. She’s my best friend, and I’ll be there for her tomorrow, the day after, and as many days as I can. And I know she’ll be there with me.
There is no ball and chain.