I never thought I’d get married again. Not in a million years. Not because I thought I wouldn’t find someone to marry, but because I didn’t think I was capable of giving myself over the way a marriage—a good one, anyway—requires. I’d fought so hard and struggled so long to learn and become me, purely me, not one quarter of a family or one half of a couple or one sixth of a group. I’d finally found a place where I was just Sarah Ratermann. I didn’t ever want to sacrifice that.
The first thing I noticed about Brian was his laugh. Part cackle, part guffaw, part shout of unadulterated glee, it never failed to make me snicker, and I didn’t even know his name. He was just this guy who was my boss that I’d hear from across the store and smile at—I felt like a psycho.
We started dating. In the middle of the chaos that was my life—and I do mean total and utter chaos. He, in no uncertain terms in his quiet way, communicated what he brought to the table, and what he expected. I, in my much more verbose, gesticulation-ridden manner, did the same. I told him I wouldn’t get married again, ever. He said, well, if you’re going to be with me, you will have to. We left it at that, staring at each other from our opposite corners of the ring.
I went to Ireland for my 30th birthday. I’d planned to go alone and backpack around for several weeks, mostly because I just couldn’t stomach the idea of another drunken 30th birthday bash. A few weeks before I left, he asked, “how do you feel about company?” I was thrilled. Not just about the prospect of a joiner, but because he thought to ask, he was sensitive and perceptive enough to know how I operate, with fierce independence. If he’d assumed that I’d love his company and just showed up as a surprise our relationship would have gone pear shaped right then.
And then we were there and we walked through rolling hills and narrow streets and rode bikes along icy waters and ate really terrible Irish food. The day before he left was sad. I wished he could stay, we were having so much fun, and in a way I hadn’t experienced in our relationship thus far. And everything seemed easier. When I was tired and hungry and trying to figure out which bus to take to which stop, I’d scowl and he’d just do it. Tickets would appear, my pack would be stowed, he’d remember to remove my wallet and my book, and I’d find myself comfy and dry and maybe even with a snack. I never felt like I lost myself in the process.
When I returned to the states I told him maybe I’d be amicable to this marriage idea. Because if it looked even remotely like that partnership we had in Ireland, well, that was a different beast than I was familiar with. And I kinda liked it. We were sitting on our stone patio, drinking wine and grilling dinner. He didn’t blink an eye as we talked about how we’d steal away and marry quietly, without anyone knowing, just us.
“Are we engaged?”
“Yeah, I think we are.”
I can’t imagine a better engagement or a better marriage. Just two people who realized that they can let their guard down enough, that they can share themselves enough to walk through the rest of their lives together.
Happy Anniversary to my laughing husband, here’s to me falling in love every time you chortle away. Thanks for being patient enough to let me share myself with you.