My husband and I both love music. We may not always love the same kind of music, and more than one road trip may have ended in silence due to car stereo battles. But we have enough musical preferences in common to share Pandora and iTunes accounts, so that’s something.
Today is our wedding anniversary. And like most parts of my life, when I think about the last two decades (16 years of marriage after four years of dating) most of my memories come with a soundtrack. The song I had stuck in my head when we met, the first songs we danced to, the songs we quoted in mushy love notes, the songs that helped me get through our long-distance phase, the songs played at our wedding, fixing relationships – and so many more!
When I thought about writing a post today to celebrate our anniversary, I skipped right over the lists of things I’ve learned (because, REALLY. what on earth do I know?) and what I’d tell my 20-year-old newlywed self today (because, WHERE WOULD I START?) — and landed on a soundtrack for our marriage. These songs describe many parts of the first 16 years of our marriage, though they certainly don’t encompass everything. Still, I figured 16 songs for 16 years was a good place to start!
16 Songs About Staying Together Through Hard Times
1. Dear Future Husband (Meghan Trainor)
Okay, this actually IS a terrible place to start. But it’s definitely the song I was singing as I headed into marriage. Expectations? Oh, I had plenty. And they were so wrong. “Dear Future Husband” might seem like a catchy, shoo-bop kind of pop song I’ve come to love Meghan Trainor for, but it’s a lot more dangerous than that.
“After every fight just apologize and maybe then I’ll let you try and rock my body right. Even if I was wrong (you know I’m never wrong), why disagree? Why, why disagree?” SIGH. I totally believed this – and I was totally wrong. Look. Buying into this song’s philosophy of “I’ll be nice to you if you do what I want” will cost you way more than the sexy outfit Meghan wears to clean house in the video. It can cost you years of a happy marriage. Ask me how I know…
2. Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran)
Still, despite expectations and baggage and ignorance, we were truly in love when we got married. We may not have known how to love each other well, but that did not stop us from loving each other a lot. And this song? Well, even if the words don’t all fit, the feel of it is a perfect depiction of that early kind of love.
3. Our House (Crosby Stills Nash & Young)
“Our house is a very, very, very fine house with two cats in the yard…” Check and check! We bought our first house, and it was so cute! And we had two cats, and they were so cute! Yay! Life is good!
4. Love is War (American Young) “Sometimes love is a white flag; sometimes love is standing tall. Sometimes love is a feather; sometimes a cannonball. But it’s worth fighting for (it’s worth fighting for). Baby, sometimes love is war.”
Learning when to stick to our guns and when to compromise has been huge in our marriage. Figuring out that we are on the same team and fighting FOR each other instead of WITH each other has been life-changing. Sometimes love IS war, but not in the way we thought during so many of our early years.
5. Hard to Love (Lee Brice)
A man sings this song, so when it first came out it was easy for me to assign its words to Mark. Yeah! I thought. He IS hard to love! So lucky to have me, putting up with him and his hard-to-love self!
Except…um…it turns out we’re BOTH human. And hard to love. SO human.
Taking responsibility for my role in our struggles was a turning point in my heart and our marriage. Realizing that I can only change myself – and maybe that’s a big enough project for now, anyway – is something I wish I’d learned so much earlier. We’re ALL hard to love, really. Choosing to love each other anyway is the miracle of marriage (and any lasting, loving relationship).
6. Love is a Battlefield (Pat Benatar)
Before I figured out that I can be hard to love and before we realized that we were actually on the same team, well, the Carver house was full of fighting. So many fights. So many tears. So many crying hangovers and headaches and hugs and then doing it all over again. Those years were hard.
7. Say Something (A Great Big World)
Harder still was the season when we both just felt worn down. After years of fighting the same fights, shouting the same words at each other, and watching them fall empty to the floor, we were tired. We were battle-weary and desperately afraid it would never get better.