For better or for worse. We were 23 and 25. Better or worse? What could that cover? Losing a job. Being annoyed by one not loading the dishwasher appropriately… or the other leaving socks on the ground when there are laundry basket drop points at every doorway. Not liking your job. Your favorite show getting cancelled on ABC.
We didn't really know, honestly. Like, not only did we not know. We didn't know. It was a universal crapshoot. Maybe we chose to tie our horse to the right wagon? Maybe not.
And we said these vows. In front of 700 people. So apparently we must have felt pretty secure in exchanging these words:
"For better or worse. For richer for poorer. In sickness and in health."
We said these blanket statements that most people said at the altar. And we added in a few other flowery words of our own. But mostly, with a hope, a prayer, and a "I take you as my one and only for all eternity" exchanged, we were bound by marriage and God.
But what didn't we say? What would real life vows look like if I were to look back on our decade+ of matrimonal bliss (ahem.)?
Would he have vowed to love me through my hormonal ups and downs? Through not only the glorious second trimester of me carrying his child but the hideous first trimester wherein I morphed into a monster?
Would he have said, "Yes. Yes. I support you going to Target when you've had a bad day and just need to get diapers+candy corn+groceries+a pair of jeans off the sale rack."
Would he have stood up in front of my family and said, "Yes. I take your daughter to be mine even when she can't seem to spatially manage a dishwasher."
"Yes. I take her to be my wife and my one and only when she wears the same shirt to bed and for the following day and for bed that night because actually, I find not having to run the washer as often really socially conscious."
"Yes. I will absolutely love and honor and cherish her when she is wearing diaper pads post-birthing one of our humans. And her nipples are bruised and sore. And she cries every time I leave the house. I am totally stoked for that."
"I will love her even when her body is being attacked by cancer and I'm scared I might lose her."
"Yes. I will honor that she is a creative and wild heart on a stick and that she follows her heart first, always. Even though I am more of a brain following guy."
"Yes. I will love her. In sickness. And in health."
We didn't say, "with hair or without. You will love me and I will love you whether I can work or not. Even when you have to carry the load while I get well. Even if I never get a chance to repay you."
Can you imagine if our vows had said, "in times where I need you to run to Walgreens for suppositories, Gatorade, and miralax. In the moments where I need you to be my balance as I squat over the toilet, wearing a surgical bra and two drains from surgery. You must promise that in those moments, promise to cherish me."
What if we said, "Please, dear, promise to love me in all of the human-ness that I possess. In the times where I'm having a day. Where I cry at the dinner table. Where our children ask, 'why is mommy crying?' I promise I'll legit love you in those moments if you, too, will legit love me."
Or perhaps, "I promise to celebrate your highs and be there for you to lay your head on my shoulder during your lows. I promise to cheer when you finally poop out something that sounded like a small child into the toilet. I promise to get you more toilet paper if necessary. I promise to still think you are as hot as you were on our first date. Even though I now know you poop."
My husband. He signed up for this, yes he did. For me. But not a day gets to happen where I go without thankfulness for how seriously he takes the footnote: and ALL other duties as assigned.
He has been put through the ringer in our time since we've shared our nuptials. Not a night comes where I don't put my head on him and value what we have. Not a morning occurs where I don't thank God that this man has stuck through it. The mud and the muck. The good times and bad. The joy and the joyful. The sickness the health the richer the poorer and the better or worse. And now it's my job to be here for the "long as we both shall live."
But a little addendum, for my mr… a few new vows… just to sweeten the pot a bit:
To my husband who seems to love me through it all, I can only hope I give you everything you give me. In sickness, and in health. In constipation or diarrhea. In the sexual waves and the drought. I promise to see your needs and meet them, just as you have done for me. Through Husker losses and wins. In kids throwing fits over getting their sandwiches cut the wrong way. In work and in play. Through the money tree being baren or flush. I promise to let you follow your dreams and to have you golf as often as you can remember to schedule it. Whether we are folding laundry or flying to a beach. From the first cup of coffee in the morning to the last full of water cups at night. As we both enjoy and work to love and parent our children. I promise to be on your team and cheer for our victories and work through our losses. I promise to stand by your side as you change and as life changes. And to let you know that I want to be a part of the things that matter to you. From watching soccer to watching all the way through the final episode of game of thrones. I want you to know I have fun with you. And that you are serving our family and our hearts even more than I ever anticipated. Through family dance parties in the kitchen. Laying with our boys and reading books. Scheduling dates for us to be grown ups. I will cherish you partially because you are rad and partially because you are becoming a master of the meat smoking. If you should get sick or ever need a fecal transplant like I did, I will willingly provide my poop in a jar. And if you ever need me to go to the ends of the earth, I will get myself some sort of compass and head down that path. Because you, sir, have proven your weight in gold. And I will spend my earthly days trying to do that all, right back atcha.
I promise to love, honor, and laugh with you, and note how hot I think you are, all the days of our lives.
For better or for worse. I'll be your huckleberry. Thanks for being mine. Every single day.