It's Our Anniversary?
It’s a funny thing, a wedding anniversary: on one hand, it is a source of pride, a reminder of our love and commitment, and a log of all the ups and downs we’ve been through together. On the other hand, it’s a fake number, negating the three years we had already spent together before getting hitched, as well as an undeniable measure of the fact that we are getting old.
It’s also something we forget. Every. Single. Year.
The first couple of years, we thought this was kind of cute. We counted it as a very good sign that we were not calendar-watching, inching towards a yearly milestone simply so that we could wipe our brow and exclaim, we made it! No, we were so secure in our relationship that we had no idea a year had passed until a well-wisher called to remind us. We chuckled.
In 2005, our anniversary coincided with the imminent birth of our first child. In fact, my due date was the day before our anniversary. Finally, we were preoccupied with a date on the calendar, but once again, it was not the date of our anniversary. Rushing towards parenthood, we had already left the novelty of simply being a couple behind, and were nervously awaiting a new measure by which to gage the passing of our time. Mischa Faye arrived 8 days after we forgot our third anniversary.
New parenthood imprints a couple in unmistakable and unchangeable ways. Apparently, so does your first child’s due date, because more times than not, when asked, we proudly declare our anniversary to be May 3. It’s not. It’s May 4, but I often have to concentrate very hard before that complies with my inner ‘Important Dates to Remember’ software.
Forgetting Celebrating our anniversary for the past few years has been less about ‘Wow!’ and more about, ‘How?’ The death of my father, the birth of our second daughter weeks later (whose due date was also my husband’s birthday, so again, I remember the day, but not necessarily the occasion), unemployment, stress, stress, stress and more stress have threatened to eclipse our happiness as readily as our status as a family has eclipsed our status as a couple. I was not looking forward to our seventh year of marriage, worried about its stigma as a relationship ruiner, a critical mass for marriage that will either make or break a couple. It was not the seven-year-itch I was worried about, but that I was becoming a colossal seven-year-bitch, handling the pressures of life with neither grace nor calm.
But then, one day a couple of weeks ago, the phone rang. It was my mother-in-law, and she was calling to enthusiastically and lovingly wish us a happy anniversary. Chris was playing happily with the kids while I prepared dinner, and I smiled at my handsome husband. We had forgotten again. We looked at each other and laughed. He came over and put his arms around me. It felt good, and I realized that we had not argued or been socked over the head with any (more) unexpected stress in weeks.
‘I’m sorry we forgot it,’ he said.
‘I’m glad we forgot it,’ I said.
And I hope we forget, together, every year for the rest of our lives.