Before our big adventure to Europe, Austin and I attended a marriage conference in Southern Missouri. It was a conference for couples, but one attendee named Trent came alone, soloing while his wife stayed at home in Indiana with their newborn son. Aus and I buddied up to Trent during an excursion to a nearby nature park, and while we explored the beauty of the canyon, I got one of the best descriptors of marriage I've heard yet.
"Without her, it's muted joy," Trent shared as we took in sights of bison, deer, and golden bass. It didn't strike me as much more than passing comment from a lonely husband, so I smiled warmly in his direction and turned my attention back to the beasts of the field.
A couple weeks after the conference, a dear friend gave birth to her firstborn son.
I didn't think we'd get to meet him so soon after his arrival, since his due date and our European adventure stood side by side on the summer calendar, but the little guy came just in time, and while I waited on some loads of pre-travel laundry to finish washing I jumped in another friend's car and sped off to greet him in the hospital.
Austin wasn't there; he couldn't make it for some reason I don't remember.
But I do remember in that moment, meeting this little one for the first time, the words of my friend Trent: "Without her, it's muted joy."
The baby's cheeks were perfectly plump. His nose was the tiniest button of cuteness. Our friends were incredibly gentle, patient, and glowing with parental pride. I couldn't hold back tears; this was the beginning of a beautiful family. But without my husband there, all the joy welling up in my heart ebbed just the tiniest bit, like a boiling pot turned down from 8 to 6.
The joy was not absent; It was muted.
In some sense, I have made a conscious trade-off. I have a companionship I've never previously known, a way of seeing the world that no longer resounds in "me" or "I", I have a partner in crime and in dish washing, a new fire under my bones and a flint of iron that sparks when it clashes with my own will of steel.
But I no longer have the ability to take in deep delight through just one set of eyes.
On September 16, 2012 and everyday since, I traded in my joy, double or nothing, and nothing would ever be the same.
We celebrate 2 years of marriage today.
Actually, in the traditional sense, we probably won't celebrate at all.
No champagne toast, because we live on a dry campus.
No 3-course meal, because only one of us has a job.
No wrapped gifts, because...see above.
But absent of those niceties, I know how abundantly blessed we are to celebrate these two years while still carrying the indispensable necessities that have made our sapling marriage work:
Laughter, because that's how we react to what delights us.
Hugs, because that's my love language.
Wedding-day reminiscing, because that day was Hands-Down Amazing.
Reflection, because this past year gave us some great questions and new horizons to ponder together.
And full, unadulterated, amplified and unmuted
For two years of life with my best friend, I can't really think of any better way to celebrate.