What No One Ever Tells You About Marriage

There is something
no one tells you
while the guests are still there,
while the cake watches,
while the rings still feel
like something stuck between
your teeth.

What that thing is,
what no one tells you,
(during the toasts or the speeches
or the dancing)
is that you will need to
say those two words
and again

and again.

The preacher makes it sound
like it’s once-and-done,
but it’s

After the first fight,
for example,
the one that catches you
off guard,
you will have to say those two words,
and again after the twenty-seventh
argument about the same thing,
your tone, maybe,
or the smallest rolling
of the eyes.

And again
after the one hundred
and fifth
when you’re sitting on the floor
of your office
in despair
and she is in the room
or despairing, too,
over things you cannot name
and never could have foreseen.

And again
this time gladly
on nights when your hands
under the covers, live wires,
or when your child leaves
the room, and you
smile at each other with joy
there goes the two of you
and so much more
in one body.

Or when the little strip just won’t
turn. And the months pass
marked by what arrives
and what does not.

Until sickness and health
are behind you
and death has parted you.
One hundred
in every little way and every big way
in every glance and every sigh.

I do.

You know,
I say those words
every day, every minute.
I peek into the room and see
you sitting in the sunshine,
eyes closed, tired from every little thing,
and I whisper it to myself, though no
one else is there
to witness it.

No one else,
I do.

Shawn Smucker
Shawn is the author of the book The Day the Angels Fell, a middle-grade adventure tale that asks the question, “Could it be possible that death is a gift?” He has also co-written numerous non-fiction books and lives in the city of Lancaster, PA, with his wife and their six children. He blogs regularly about family, faith, and city-living at shawnsmucker.com.

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