Together We’ll Wreak Havoc, You and Me

Ten years ago today, I got married, and I’m still in awe of what a huge risk that was, and how glad I am every day that I took the leap.

Making promises.

Making promises.

It is safe to say that we had absolutely no idea what we were doing.  Everyone thought we were way too young.  And I know for a fact that many couples that are now divorced felt the same amount of certainty on their wedding day that we felt on ours, deep within.

Recently, when my husband told someone that he was coming up on ten years of marriage, the man was incredulous, and asked, “Are you happy?”  Gratefully, my husband was able to answer, “Yeah, dude.  Really happy.”  I think at other points in our marriage, he would have had to give a very Ben Affleck answer: “Well, marriage is a lot of work, but yeah, I’m happy.”

Because, like Ben and Jen, Joel and I have had to WORK it.  And then work it some more, my friend.  But what else is worth working on, in life?  Our relationships are who we are, what makes up the crux of our lives.  When I die, no one is going to care what letters I have after my name or if I ever published that book.  What will last is the way I loved the people I said I was going to love.  Did I choose to love them every day?  Even when everything broke down and I was sure we simply couldn’t work it out this time?  And especially when a bunch of small things happen in a row that just make me feel demoralized and lonely, even though I know we are overall okay.  That’s when choosing love is a matter of leaning, heavily, on the vows, on the magic you created at the ritual of your wedding, and on the community that is shoring you up.

Yup, we had people chuck paper planes at us. In the pouring rain.

Yup, we had people chuck paper planes at us. In the pouring rain.

Our wedding was still the most fun party I’ve ever been to.  The ceremony was lovely, even though we all missed my dad (who had died not even a year prior) so much we bawled through most of it, and Joel nearly broke my fingers as he wrung my hands through the vows, but what made it really special was the reception, which was in an old converted barn.

barn raising

We couldn’t even get through dinner without starting the dancing.  Here are a few pictures from the insane dance party that ensued, thanks to our Haitian DJs from NYC (who were so late I was sure it was all going to fail miserably) and our incredible guests.  You guys, I had to SCAN all these photos in at Walgreens!  That’s how friggen old I am.  But of course we got married when I was 15, right??

Best man doing push ups to Beastie Boys, as you do.

Best man doing push ups to Beastie Boys, as you do.

Getting crazy with my hilarious sister.

Getting crazy with my hilarious sister.

Intergenerational family dance floor!  Even my mom was working it.

Intergenerational family dance floor! Even my mom was working it.

The cool kids taking a smoke break.

The cool kids taking a smoke break.

"Let streamers fly and cannons roar"

“Let streamers fly and cannons roar”

The song Joel and I had our “formal dance” to was Rufus Wainwright’s The Consort.  At a wedding I was in a few weekends ago, my husband surprised me with the most romantic gift he has ever given me.  To commemorate our 10 year wedding anniversary, he had my friend Sydney, a metalsmith who was in our wedding and made my bridal headpiece, make me a bracelet which featured a flower from the headpiece, with a lyric from that song engraved on it.  It reads, TOGETHER WE’LL WREAK HAVOC YOU AND ME.

I will never top the thoughtfulness of this gift.  I am hoping this blog post will suffice!

I will never top the thoughtfulness of this gift. I am hoping this blog post will suffice!

It’s was a promise way back then, and it still is.  Joel and I have embarked on the most conventional thing in the world, hetero marriage, with as much punk rockery as we could muster.  We’ve done it our way.

Love

A lot of people ask me “what’s your secret?”  to being together so long.  I’m tempted to say, “Playing cards!  Sex!  Therapy!  Waiting 8 years to have a kid!  Prayer!”, but really no one ever knows what happens between two people.

My best advice is: wreak havoc, together.  Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young, too old, too gay, too alcoholic, too broken, too shuttered, too much work, that you’re the wrong color for each other, that you just can’t forgive, that you don’t want to go “there”.  Wreak havoc on your lives, changing everything about who you thought you’d be, in relationship.  But do it together.

Marriage is not about the end result, or whether you “make it” as a couple.  It’s about knowing each other, and getting to know who you really are in relationship, and allowing that to change over time.  I know people who had beautiful marriages, that ended, and they wouldn’t give up what they learned to avoid the pain of how it all fell apart.

So show up as your worst self when you have to, and let the other person help you find what a better self could be.  Give up on having the picture perfect Christmas card family.  Just be your fucked-up selves, but do it brazenly, with as much acceptance of the other person as you can muster from deep within.  Wreak havoc, and don’t close off to one another.  Never stop letting each other in.

Ten years later, still in love, still wreaking havoc.  Happy anniversary, Joey!

Ten years later, still in love, still wreaking havoc. Happy anniversary, Joey!

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15 thoughts on “Together We’ll Wreak Havoc, You and Me

  1. Wow. Brings tears and inspiration. Thank you for sharing this. Bless you both!!

  2. That was so beautiful, Rhea, as are the photographs. How are you so sage? We have been through a lot of pain in our ten years of marriage but with therapy are coming out the other side knowing each other and are on our way to daily happiness. Our fogs have been lifted and we see things for what they really are. Therapy is our secret to a happy marriage! 🙂

    Congratulations to the both! You are a beautiful couple, and that bracelet made my heart skip a beat. Beautiful. Happy Anniversary! xoxo

  3. Congratulations! Ten years is a long time.
    I love that – wreaking havoc together. I’ll remember that. 🙂

  4. Rhea, I’ve been tempted to leave a reply to many of the posts you’ve put up here but this one brought tears of hope and joy to my eyes…at work none the less! Those pictures and the memories of your wedding feel like they were just yesterday and I agree, surely one of the best wedding parties I’ve been to!! Your words made me believe in true love again and fall in love with the both of you as friends as well as role models in my life all over again. I love you both very much and wish you a very happy anniversary!!

  5. i’m sure you know i have different thoughts on the legacy, institution and privilege of marriage, but certainly not on love. what a beautiful piece about your own story – i especially love this line – “What will last is the way I loved the people I said I was going to love.” i am so happy that you two have been your amazing brazen selves for so long and that you will be for so much longer!

  6. Amazing photos — looks like an awesome party, indeed! I also just celebrated ten years with my husband. Congratulations and here’s to the next 10!!

  7. Beauty that brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. (I also laughed that I made it into so many photos 😉 Happy Anniversary!

  8. Oh dear, how deeply I am brought to tears by the ferocity of you and your words. This really hit me: “Wreak havoc on your lives, changing everything about who you thought you’d be, in relationship. But do it together.” So much love and respect. And such an awesome and beautiful gift!!

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