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Marriage.

I'm no expert on marriage and yet, in some sense, I'm as much an expert as any of us is. I'm not versed in statistics nor do I have any real interest in being so versed, but I have been married for almost a decade and I know a thing or two. More than that though, more important than that, I'm curious about marriage, what it means and how it works, why some marriages are made of tough steel and others powdery sand, why some unions last forever and others crumble quickly.

During the past month Lindsey and I have focused on this topic and what a fascinating month it's been. So many of you have contributed your own words on the topic, some uplifting, some heartbreaking, all thoughtful and honest. And what I've come away with is something I think I knew, albeit unconsciously: No two marriages are the same. We all have our own landscapes, our own manners of loving and learning and being committed, our own ups and our own downs, our own stories. Stories. That's what it's about.

I find myself on this final day of June humbled by how much I have learned about this vast and unwieldy topic that means a great deal to me. Humbled about how much more there is to learn. And I intend to continue my eduction. This topic is too important to me to move beyond. I will continue to ask questions and explore them. I will continue to tell stories and solicit yours. I will continue to trace the edges of this glorious human enigma.

I will close with a few words about my own marriage, something I cherish deeply and about which I've been admittedly private. I think it's only fair. So many of you have opened up and shared yourselves, your successes and your struggles, and I feel it's right for me to do a bit of the same.

You see, I was a jaded New Yorker, a second-year law student, an Ivy League snob, a wearer of black. The world was my oyster. I had a wonderful family and oodles of friends. My biggest gripe was that I had final exams to study for, but the rest was peachy keen and I was out for the night with dear girlfriends and we were a bit sauced you could say, pickled in white wine, high on life. And we went from place to place in our little pack, chatting and laughing and drinking, and we ended up at one final spot, a place called Prohibition. And it was late, so late, and we were a bit messy but more than that, happy. And there was a guy, a tall guy with wild hair and electric blue eyes and he was hot. And fast forward a few minutes and he was talking to me and it was so easy. I felt electrified and alive. If you'd asked me that morning if I believed in love at first sight I would have laughed and laughed hard. I was too smart for that nonsense. But was it nonsense? Because there I was, talking to a virtual stranger, and I was smitten.

And it just took off. We took off. It was one long breathless conversation. It was small surprises. A Diet Mountain Dew while I was studying. A home-cooked meal. A silver heart on a chain. We started talking about marriage immediately. We decided on the number of kids we would have within the first months. Time passed and an October day came and he pulled a ring out of his battered brown boot. We were in our kitchen. It was quiet and perfect and he got down on bended knee and asked. I said Yes.

Yes.

And we got married in the neighborhood where I grew up and the neighborhood where we met and the neighborhood where we now raise our trio. At the church where we went on to baptize our three babes. We danced our first dance under the biggest and best Blue Whale. Our first song was "All I Need Is You." We never looked back.

We had a baby girl. And then another baby girl. And then another. But in between these miraculous moments, there has been heartbreak. We miscarried our first pregnancy. I lost my father to cancer. I grappled with anxiety and alcohol. There have been other things. It hasn't always been easy street, but that's not the way life works, I realize now. Even through the trickier times, this man, this beautiful and good man who is not just hot, but smart and sensitive and funny and fun, has been here for me and I have been here for him.

Here.

Through it all, we have never stopped talking and working. Marriage, like all good and important things, takes work. Hard, unrelenting, thoughtful work. It is not meant to be a breeze, we are not meant to be on auto-pilot. We are meant to open our eyes and ask questions and work. I have never believed anything so much in my life.

Almost ten years in, I feel a tremendous amount of love and optimism when I think about marriage. My marriage and the institution in general. I believe in this bond so many of us dream of and undertake. I believe it can be good and edifying and inspiring. I believe though that we must not get lazy and focus only on the heralded beginning (weddings) and the heartbreaking ends (divorce), but the murky and magical middles, the Here.

A friend came to visit last year. She stayed with us and before she left to fly home she said something to me and I have not forgotten it. She said something like, I just want you to know that it's inspiring to witness the work you are putting into your marriage. You are actually focusing on it and thinking about it.

It was one of the most powerful things I've ever heard because I'm not sure I was consciously aware of the work I was doing. But I was doing it. I see this now. And I will continue to do it.

Marriage is, and will always be, a tricky beast that eludes our human understanding. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to understand it. If we care, oh and I do, we must look at it, pay attention to it, and care for it like any other thing we love.

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Thank you all SO much for reading this month. Come back tomorrow when I will announce my plan for July and August.

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More posts on the Here Year & Marriage:

The Here Year

The Here Year Month #3: Marriage

The Here Year, June: Marriage (A Design So Vast)

On Marriage & Age

"We Are a Work-in-Progress" (A guest post)

"She's got my back, and I've got hers" (A guest post)

What My Therapist Said About Marriage

4.003 Days of Laughter (& Counting) (A guest post)

The Marriage & Sex Question

The Best Thing I've Done For My Marriage?

"All of a sudden, everything was different" (A guest post)

Why Do Married People Cheat?

11 Insights from Jane Green

Without a Net (A guest post)

The Marriage-Children Paradox

33 Ways to Make Our Marriages Happier (Part 1 of 3)

The Habits of the Happily Married (A Design So Vast)

33 Ways to Make Our Marriages Happier (Part 2 of 3)

"Do You Think We'll Make It Another Year?" (A guest post)

33 Ways to Make Our Marriages Happier (Part 3 of 3)

Big Night Out (A guest post)

On Social Media & Marriage

That's All (A guest post)

Marriage Is Fun! (A guest post)

19 Interesting Articles on Love & Marriage

Cracked: A Marriage Reflection (A guest post)

In Between Here & There (A guest post)

July & August: Where I'll Be

In Between Here & There