Diary of a Marriage: Our Four-Year Anniversary

Wow, is it different than our first.

They're 4!

When J. and I were dating, right before our one-year anniversary, I decided I’d make him a gift. It would be a box, and I’d fill it with tiny slips of paper, and on each one I’d write a reason I loved him.

But that wasn’t enough! There would be 365 slips of paper in the box, one for each day of the year. I’d tell him to pull one slip out each day; it would be the year-long love note. Screw Shakespearean sonnets! I’d give him a box.

I can’t remember exactly which number I was up to when I realized that this idea was harder than originally anticipated; I think it was around 280. I love him, of course, but, well, 365 is a lot of reasons. Especially when you’ve only been together for a year.

By around 250, my once-clever reasons had devolved into this:

#255: The freckle on your wrist.

#267: Your intense love of chicken.

By reason 300, I’d enlisted the help of a few of my coworkers, including the editor of this blog {Ed note: It’s true. Sorry, J.}. They crowded around my desk and threw out ideas:

“Do you like the way he cooks?”

“How about his hair? Did you mention his hair?”

“You’re not going to talk about sex in this, are you?”

“So, really, you can’t repeat any?”

I remember worrying that our relationship was doomed, all because I couldn’t easily fill a stupid shoebox with reasons I loved him. In the end, I finished it, all 365 slips.

Yesterday, J. and I celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary. I didn’t do any grand gestures, just a simple Hallmark card. (Unlike me, J. doesn’t appreciate cards that cost more than $7.)  There were no grand proclamations of love. We ate dinner out at a little Chinese restaurant. It was empty by the time we left; a waiter was already sweeping the floor for the night cleanup. We exchanged cards: J. bought me one shaped like a football; the original message—“You’re 7!”—scribbled out and changed to, “We’re 4!”

I thought about the shoebox yesterday, and wondered how much easier it would be to come up with 365 reasons now. We have five more years under our belt, and a million more stories. I could mention the way he fills us my gas tank when it gets low, and the way he clips coupons for my favorite snacks. I could also mention how we wakes up early during the summer—when he’s off from school—to drive me to the train station, and how he lets me take up most of the couch when we watch TV. I could mention how he hands me my towel after every shower I take, and how he carries my heavy bag upstairs after I’ve had a long day at work.

I’ve written nearly 100 of these blog posts so far, so it seems I’m well on my way to a year’s worth of love notes. Maybe one day I’ll print them all out, bind them in a book, and give them to him as a gift. But who knows? After years and years together, I suppose you don’t need such grand declarations of love, anyway. It’s enough to have a quiet dinner together at an empty Chinese restaurant, cracking open fortune cookies and toasting our years together over sushi (for me) and chicken (for him). That was one of 365 the reasons I loved him in the beginning, and it’s still one of about 365,000 reasons I love him now.

How do you and your groom celebrate your anniversary, whether it’s for dating or marriage? How does it differ from what you used to do?

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