Last week, I went for a run and used the time to reflect on the topics of the day. As my iPhone was playing the tunes through my headphones, the topic of the day was the fact that Cherise and I were about to reach our 10th wedding anniversary. I often use the iPhone shuffle feature to change up my music and keep things fresh and I inevitably get the slow songs that aren’t really conducive to running. It happened again during this run, but before I skipped this one, I recognized the opening piano right away. It was REM’s “At My Most Beautiful”. As anyone who attended our wedding might recall, Cherise and I danced (awkwardly, in my case) to the tune at our first dance. What most people don’t know is that Cherise and I have a rule that whenever the song comes on and we’re in the same place, wherever we are, we drop what we are doing and dance together. As I let the song play and continued with my run, I thought about all the times we’ve danced to that song. Over the years, I would have fun testing our rules. Like times where we’d just be sitting there reading and listening to music, and in the middle of another album, I would sneak the song in randomly. And every time it came we on, we’d glance at one another, smile, get up, and begin to dance. It happened when we were living in our Seattle apartments as up-and-coming Microsoft employee and MPA grad student. And in our new house when Cherise was pregnant with Iris. And through those nights when Iris couldn’t fall asleep. And even when we had our family dance nights before bed. I think Iris usually comments on what a pretty song it is. If she only knew…
The fact that we made this commitment and stuck with it is emblematic of the last 10 years. Sometimes it’s not always convenient and sometimes you’d think it doesn’t make sense, but by following through, we get so much out of it. And while we’re doing it, I am overwhelmed at how lucky I am to have someone who not only loves me enough to do this, but also (as the lyrics of the song go) someone who always manages to “find a way to make me smile”.
Marriage is a funny thing. It almost sounds absurd. You promise to stay with one person for the rest of your life. Commit to be with no one else, stick it out through thick and thin, and generally make an oath that you’ll be able to stand each other for the decades to come. Oh, and it also puts you on the fast track to add an even greater commitment of having kids and managing to navigate through that. I often get asked what the secret to a good marriage is. For all the advice I’ve gotten about marriage, I am going to give you the secret for our first 10 years. The most important thing about marriage is…(drum roll)…who you choose to marry. The secret to the first 10 years of my marriage is Cherise. Her patience, love, and commitment are the most humbling things I have ever experienced in my life. As I said in my vows on our wedding day, when I look at Cherise, “I see a reflection of myself—both of what I am and what I want to be.”
A few weeks ago, my Dad and I went out to lunch. As we often do when I ask my dad to choose the restaurant, we hit Jack In The Box (yes, Jack In The Box). As he sat there munching on the last of his fries, he said something to me that struck me as very significant. In referring to Cherise, he said “you are the luckiest man in the world. She is the kindest person, most thoughtful, and such a great mother. I’ve never met anyone as amazing as her. You couldn’t have asked for anything more. Her family is perfect and her mother loves you so much.” It’s funny to think about what my dad said given this idea I have in my head about how no man will ever be good enough for Iris or Robyn. It’s quite a statement for a parent to not only say “she’s good enough”, but rather “you are so lucky”. But, as he has been on many things for most of my life, he was spot on. This week, Cherise and I will have been married for 10 years and I am amazed by how I feel closer to her now than I did on that afternoon in June 2001. What’s been amazing about these years is how it all just clicks for us. She anticipates what I need and I do the same for her. We respect each other’s abilities and strengths and never hesitate to share our appreciation of those things. We’ve figured out each other’s hot buttons and avoided them. We’ve made the relationship a boon, not a chore.
Where would I be without marriage? Probably fine. But I can think of nothing that has more profoundly changed my life. Much like dancing to that song, I love the commitment. I love what it represents. I love the joy it brings me. But most of all, I love my partner.