“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

Posts for Our Marriage Category

A Letter to My Husband on Our Third Anniversary

Dearest Shaun,

I have promised us that this year, for your anniversary letter, I will keep it short – what with both of us working, and Ariadne, all the demands on our time, and the fact that I’ve written a whole separate post for our anniversary on how we met.

And I think we both know me trying to avoid being long-winded is just not really likely to happen.

I’ll try. I’ll try to keep this short.

On the day we were married, we spent the entire day preparing for the ceremony and party, and then celebrating – a day of cool weather and fall leaves and wine and laughter and kisses and hugs and dance trains and bliss. On our first anniversary, we got to sleep in, and then drive across the river to the Encampment, to gorge ourselves on Ye Olde Timey Food and giggle at the terrible announcer for the battle reenactment. Last year, on our second anniversary, we were with Lance and Tara at Seahorse Ranch, and we walked down to the river, and all over the property, and then hiked at Munson Lake, and cooked dinner together – a beautiful day of family and peace and nature.

This year, on our third anniversary, things are a bit different. I was up at four thirty in the morning, and I got you up briefly at five. I was up again at six fifteen, and I got you up again at seven thirty. I was at work all day, and you were home in charge of child care. We spent most of the day apart. We contemplated going to a nice dinner tonight – but now it seems we’ll wait until the weekend. So much has changed, and we’d both rather be home in pajamas, snuggling our girl, than out and about after spending most of the day with our family in two different places.

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How We Met

An Anniversary, Laureny, My Little Family, Our Marriage, Shaun, Will - Emily - October 18, 2016

It is October 2009. I am 22 years old. I have had what most would call an Interesting Year.

2009 is the year I go through so many changes and life lessons, my head is constanly spinning trying to keep up.

I graduate college after the most soul-sucking, insane semester of my college career. At one point, I actually consider quitting the semester. Between my four upper level lit Classes, the usual German workload, running dance company, editing a creative writing journal, and dabbling in theatre — I am already exhausted and stressed with a ridiculous work load. That is before my grandfather passes away and I must watch my mother grieve, before I “break up” with a best friend of years after a stupid fight that took place during my 22 birthday party, and I have to mourn and struggle with that lost relationship, and then there are other family members in extreme emotional situations I won’t discuss here.

By the time I graduate in May, I feel like a shadow of myself. Absolutely running on fumes. And yet — I don’t know that I’ve been prouder of myself. As I walk across that stage to accept my diploma, I am delirious with pride and shock. I seriously consider quitting in March — and I stick it out. I pass all the classes and pull together all the shows, turn in my final portfolio and write the last German Aufsatz. It’s not all my best work. Most of it is not my best work. But I get it done. I graduate in May, and I come home with a nervous twitch in my right eye, and a determination to rebuild my family ties and have some sort of new adventure.

I go to Germany in July. I love it there, and I hate it there. It is everything and nothing that I expect it to be. On the one hand, I feel like I make deep connections with a few people there. On the other — I feel like a complete outsider, and I realize, I have never done anything this hard without my emotional support system before. I realize this is a great idea but a bad time to do it. It is a damn brave thing to do, moving to Germany alone. Turns out I wasn’t ready for it yet.

(And you know what? That’s OK. I was 22.)

So I come home, in late August. I feel more empty than ever. I feel like I failed. I feel like I have no direction in life. The plan was a year in Germany, then grad school — but in August, I feel like I have completely lost my way. I don’t feel confident I am able to do anything, at all. I feel like I have embarrassed myself and everyone I love.

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The Waiting

In the months leading up to our wedding, I basically had our entire wedding in a huge stack of boxes by the front door.

Boxes of mason jars and candles. A tub of white tablecloths, and a box of burlap covers to go over. A box of bouquets and boutonnieres, table runners. Dishes, silverware, napkins. Bundles of lace for accents, a chalkboard for directions leaning up against it all. Prepared. Ordered. Ready.

It drove me crazy.

I was super organized, with two versions of a To-Do list – one with overall tasks to be done, the second organized by months leading up to the big day, with specific, accomplishable goals outlined for each month. That second one was purely to help me manage my anxiety – I knew I couldn’t accomplish every single task, craft, and preparation all in one day, or one week, or even one month. I knew there were time limits on things like the marriage license (only valid for thirty days) or things that simply couldn’t be performed until the day of the wedding – decorating the ceremony site and the reception hall.

I wasn’t good with the waiting. Those boxes, standing there, ready, kept reminding me how much work there was to be done, and I couldn’t do it yet. They kept reminding me that I had this big, huge, life-changing day of joy and celebration coming up – but it wasn’t here yet. I couldn’t celebrate yet, I couldn’t enjoy the flood of emotions and relief and love. I had to wait.

I am an anxious person, we know this, we’ve talked about it here on more than one occasion. I wish fervently I weren’t, but it’s the reality of who I am. Trying to deny that, or ignore it, only causes me more harm and grief.

I’m an anxious person, and part of the reason waiting is so difficult for me is because my mind usually doesn’t know how to interpret excitement properly. I mentioned this in Emi’s birth story – what I’m actually feeling is anticipation – that fluttery, almost joyous feeling of expectation that comes before a big event. It’s not (supposed to be) fear, or apprehension, it’s just excitement! And yet – too often, my brain recognizes it as the emotion that’s quite common to it – anxiety.

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A Birthday Love Letter.

Birthday, Life, My Little Family, Our Marriage, Shaun - Emily - March 1, 2016

Dear Shaun,

Happy birthday, my sweetheart.

You turn 30 today, and we always joke thirty is such a big, grown-up age – and yet, to me, you look almost the exact same as you did when we met when you were 23 and I was 22. Your hair is longer, your beard is fuller. Maybe every so often, we spot one little grey hair in your beard – but aside from that, you are still just the same.

And you’re taking this birthday in stride, calm and cheerful like you are about almost every single thing. We’ve talked for a few years now how our thirties will kind of seem like a relief. The twenties are such a wild period of figuring yourself out, figuring out how being an adult works, figuring out that no matter how much being an adult can suck, you can’t stop the ride and get off the train. I don’t think either of us expect our thirties to be a breeze and a piece of cake ALL of the time – but we’ve started to figure things out. We’ve had some practice, in our twenties, and we’ve learned how to (generally) make good decisions, stand our ground when we need to. Stand by each other, always.

But I wanted this to be a big birthday for you, I wanted to make a fuss. I know you – you would hardly ever ask for anything, ever. You are so content with simple pleasures and small favors, you don’t crave drama or attention, you are so humble and content. Those are just some of the many things I love about you – how down to earth you are, how happy you are with just your few key pleasures.

But you are a man who deserves to know how wonderful you are. You deserve to know what a great man you have become, and will continue to become. Not just on your birthday, but every day. I’ve always said, I can’t wait to see the man you will become, and that’s so true. In the almost seven years we’ve been together, I knew you first as a funny, charming, thoughtful boy, and have watched you, over time, grow into an even funnier, even more thoughtful, even more generous and loving man.

You are steady and strong and loving and gentle. You are a good boss to your employees, you take care of them, you cheer them up and try and teach them to be better. You’re such a good friend, you bring so much laughter to everyone, you care so deeply about our friends’ ups and downs. You are so supportive of them, even if your support is just taking care of me taking care of them.

You’re such a good husband. Such. You have always been, and yet, in the last few months, since we found out I was pregnant, you have stepped it up even more. I never have to ask twice for anything, you help me around the house when I’m too exhausted to do as much as I usually do. You’ve never once complained about being asked to get me more water or let me hog the footstool or get me my prenatal vitamin when I’ve fallen into bed without taking it first.

And Lord, besides all the taking care of me – you make me laugh so much. So much, all the time. If left alone together, on a car ride or sitting outside, wherever we are – we are laughing, and that makes me so happy. With no one else can I be as goofy and carefree as I am with you. I love it when I make you laugh until you lose it, when I genuinely tickle you and you have to stop and cover your face with your hand until you recover. I love how happy we are, when left to our own devices. We are so joyful, and we are so joyful at being together.

And you are going to be such a good father. I have no doubt on that. The way you would cup my belly at night, early on, thinking good thoughts for the baby, and then whisper I love you to it – that gave me so much confidence and hope. I was so scared and unsure about what was happening inside of me, at first – and you reassured me at every turn. You have been so confident and so reassuring, and best of all – so loving, so excited. The way your eyes light up sometimes, the way you know talk to the baby for a good few minutes now, telling her (WE KNOW IT’S A HER NOW!) to grow big and strong, but not too big, don’t hurt Mama, just be healthy – I love you so much. You care about her so much already, before we even knew she was a she, before we’ve really even met her. You are so gentle and kind and supportive and patient with me – I know you will be a thousand times more with our child.

It’s your birthday, and you’re thirty, and you are just doing absolutely fabulous. You really are. You have grown so much in your twenties, and I know you will continue to grow and change for the better. I am so honored to be your wife, so honored that you picked me to focus your love and attention on it. I never take that for granted – every day, I am so aware of how much you love me, and how much I love you – and God, it sounds like such a cliché, but our love grows each and every day. Noticeably, palpably. It is one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given, in my entire life, and I’m so grateful I get so spend every other birthday with you, that we get to celebrate for years and years to come.


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Going Home

Florida, Life, Memoir, My Little Family, Our Marriage, Shaun, Travel - Emily - December 4, 2015

Nearly ten years had passed since I’d last been down this way.

Shaun and I had spent hours on I-65, but at the tail end of Alabama, we took an exit and wound around to newly finished country highways, the asphalt black and smooth with fresh paint.

He’d never been to this part of country before, and our GPS didn’t recognize it either. The highways had changed since the maps had been updated, the little screen blinked and skewed wide, showed us driving over nothing land, no roads and no direction.

I felt a flicker of worry – it had been nearly ten years since I’d made the drive to this part of Florida, and I’d never been the driver, the navigator, the one responsible for finding our way there. I’d always been a child, before, or a teenager. A passenger.

But my phone picked up right where the actual GPS freaked out, and we sped along, through little Alabama towns only miles apart. What little city there was faded away the longer we drove, here and there veering off a junction onto a different little highway.

Did we pass the Florida border yet? Shaun asked, and I shook my head.

I don’t think so, yet. But I dunno, I dunno if they’d have border signs way out here.

We’d taken a picture at every state line we’d passed, on our first long road trip together; at the rest stop in Tennessee we were so familiar with, at the Huntsville rest stop with the old space shuttle in Alabama. I didn’t plan on making us stop for a Florida picture – there’d be no rest stop, this far off the beaten path, and I knew we’d be taking plenty of Florida-themed pictures during our week there.


The land had changed, all throughout our drive. The gentle hills and autumn-hued trees of Kentucky gave way to sharply rising gorges in Tennessee, the trees slightly greener, only tipped with red. Alabama seemed like such a strange place, long flat stretches of mostly empty land, the billboard on one mile proclaiming GO TO CHURCH OR THE DEVIL WILL GET YOU, and the next mile advertising strip clubs, adult bookstores. Over and over again.

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