Last night for our anniversary Aaron and I went to Marché, a French restaurant that we used to go to years ago but hadn't visited in ages. Marché serves the best steak frites I've ever had, with perfect little cups of béarnaise and red wine sauce. The restaurant is part Moulin Rouge and part Alice in Wonderland, deep reds, blues, and golds, with umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and super-oversized drum lampshades.
For the first couple years, it seemed like anniversaries were a little like birthdays when you're in your mid-20s—seriously, it's an accomplishment to just stay alive another year? We get to go out for a fancy dinner just because we stayed married? I like a fancy dinner as much as the next girl, but it seemed like a lot of fuss for just making it through.
That's what I used to think, before several good friends' marriages ended, before I experienced firsthand just how difficult marriage can be, before we faced our hardest season yet by far. I wouldn't say we have a hard marriage, but I'd say we had a really hard season. This year, we understand that staying married is indeed an accomplishment, and that staying married well—connected and intimate and giving—sometimes requires every last thing we have to give.
If you've been married long enough, and if life has been hard enough, if you're very honest, you've had tiny, nearly invisible moments when you look over at that person, watching TV or getting a glass of water and you think, Who is this person? How did we get here?1