Anniversaries Are Invitations

“Yes, Mrs. Bauman. Your husband called earlier and got you in with his appointment. We will see you in an hour.”

My hand raises to my left cheek to comfort the ache as I smile, surprised I am not surprised by my husband’s provision for my tooth pain. Lately, I have been so frustrated with him and have felt distant. That was quick though; he called before I could even decide if I needed dental care. 

It was an early morning at our home. He and I were tired and on edge getting everyone out the door. I had just dropped off the kids at school and volunteered one hour with my second grader. Now, sitting in my car in more pain then I cared to admit, I call our dentist. How kind was my husband to call and try to get me in as soon as possible?

We are heading to New York this weekend for our wedding anniversary, and my mom has already missed her flight because she scheduled her husband’s colonoscopy on the same day. I feel tired just thinking about all the work it takes to coordinate childcare, save money to celebrate, and take care of aging bodies.

I see my husband is calling, and I try not to smile when I answer the phone.

“Hey babe, I got us matching dentist appointments. Want to get smoothies after?”

“Thank you. I am in more pain then I thought…but is this what it has come to? Are our dates now dental appointments and, in the future, colonoscopies?” 

I am half-joking and half-depressed as I think of my mother’s marriage at 70 years old.

I know when we marry, we choose someone to live in reality with rather than fantasy.

Yet, I never thought on my wedding day that I was choosing the person who would help me bury my parents, and we would eventually age together until one of us dies.

After appointments, antibiotics, missed flights, many written-out schedules, and a lot of house cleaning, we made it to New York for two nights. We saw three Broadway shows in two days, shopped from street vendors, and dined with friends. We laughed about how long our married life has felt and cried about having so little tools, both coming from parents of divorce.

Somewhere in Time Square, I knelt down and proposed to Andrew again; he was embarrassed but said yes. I had two new rings in my pocket, rings that signified a new commitment, a second wind.

It’s possible I have very little fantasy when it comes to married life. When I look in the mirror, I realize I am not as young as I picture myself. I am also not as kind as I used to be either. As I try this again, each day being an invitation to recommit, I will attempt to be more honest with myself, more patient with my partner, more tender than before. I realize when I do that, I get a better glimpse of him, a second chance to get to know him. I will take my friend’s words to heart, “I bet, in hindsight, my husband could be a lot of good for me.”

May you know a gracious second wind as you rise from the end of the first.

Christy Bauman, Ph.D., MDFT, & LMHC is committed to helping women come into their true voices. She offers meaning-making and storywork consulting. She is the author and producer of Theology of the Womb, A Brave Lament, Documentary: A Brave Lament, and The Sexually Healthy Woman. She is a psychotherapist, supervisor, and adjunct professor who focuses on the female body, sexuality, and theology. Christy is co-director of the Christian Counseling Center for Sexual Health and Trauma with her husband Andrew. They live in Brevard, North Carolina with their three kids: Wilder, Selah, and River.