If there's anything that I've learned about marriage up to this point it's that some years are harder than others. Some years pass by without a lot of fuss– life is generally good, love is shared, the days pass and everything is okay. Some years feel like an up hill struggle, but you don't see the hill until you're over it and suddenly you look back and say to your partner, "What the what? I didn't even notice that sucked so bad until it wasn't sucking anymore. Thank god it's over."
You just take each other's hands and you keep walking out into the fog. If there are mountains looming up ahead for you to climb you'll never see them until it's too late. That's the unknown risk we take in sharing a life. Whether or not each forward step is terrifying depends solely on your confidence that the person holding your hand is squeezing it back just as hard as you are.
In between the terrible times and the beautiful ones there is the just okay. Traversing hills and valleys marks crucial turning points and happy memories, but the just okay is what gets us by for the vast majority of our path. Don't underestimate the power of the just okay. There's a pull to focus on the highs and lows, but the middle ground has to be a place you enjoy, a place of comfort, somewhere to live during the spaces in between your journey.
It can be a struggle to acknowledge that this is how it works. Years won't always be sultry kisses and roses. This is the stark silent truth of relationships that last decades instead of years. The first time you find yourself in the blank space between it feels like you've wound your way back to the beginning. But if you can quiet yourself enough to hear it this there is a rhythm, a beat, in the distance reminding you that those things will come back. There's a freedom in accepting the natural cadence of the path, the rebirth of the fire. In the meantime, we can float in the peace of the just okay and smile a secret smile because we know the beat is coming.
In the months leading up to our wedding I folded one thousand paper cranes. I folded the same carefully creased lines over and over a thousand times, my fingers moved themselves by muscle memory. Delicate paper birds overflowed piles all around our two room apartment. It was meditation, preparation, dedication. During our ceremony I folded number one-thousand-and-one, closed my eyes, and made a wish.