“What if we

had never met?

had broken up in college?

were still dating and living apart?”

one of us will ask the other.

“GASP! Don’t say such things, my love! You’ll give me the vapors!” the other will respond as we hug each other tightly.

***

Our first fight as a wedded pair was over hand soap.

In the Knapp’s Corner Meijer, Luke unscrewed the top on a bottle of orange Softsoap, smelled it, and held it out to me. “It’s not so awful,” he said hopefully, but one whiff made my throat burn.

I enjoy (insist upon) nice things, and this is not news to the people who love me. It should be no surprise, then, that as we stood before the $4 bottles of harshly scented Softsoap, I coughed dramatically and I laid my hand protectively over the $7 bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender soap I had already placed in our cart. How dare he, my newly minted husband, wish to surrender the softness of my hands and the delicacy of my lungs in order to save a few dollars?

“That smells like straight chemicals.”

“It is a little strong. Here, how about the white one?”

“How about the one that’s already in the cart?”

He gestured toward the organic chicken I selected minutes earlier. “We’re already spending extra money on an environmentally friendly choice.”

“OH, so we have to limit those choices?”

“Sadie, we don’t have unlimited money.”

“Mmm, we definitely have enough to spend an extra three dollars on decent soap.”

“It’s the principle of the thing, though.”

“Wow, I HATE money. My throat is BURNING.”

“Okay, okay…”

Half an hour later, in the parking lot, the inaugural fight concluded the way all our fights since have: we held each other and whispered,

“I’m sorry.

I love you.

Thank you for loving me.”

***

In April, after having it on hold for months, we finally snagged season one of This is Us from the library. Lying in bed, we shared a bottle of moscato and watched three episodes, pausing occasionally to wipe our tears and to marvel, “This SHOW.”

In premarital counseling, we learned about the different kinds of intimacies: emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, creative, recreational, work, crisis, conflict, commitment, spiritual, and sexual. “Watching this, I feel like we’re experiencing at least five different intimacies,” Luke joked.

Half joked.

We got really invested, okay?

***

Over the summer, we rode the RipCord at Michigan’s Adventure. Standing in line, we realized that a decision needed to be made regarding who would be the one to pull the cord at the top of our ascent, sending us on a 180-foot free fall that can reach speeds of 80 miles per hour. “I’d love to do it, but I’d also love to empower you to do it,” Luke said graciously.

I took the bait. I’m all about an empowering spouse.

Our turn arrived. The wire pulled us back, our bodies parallel to the ground as everything on it shrank.

“Whoa, my shadow, Luke. It’s so small…”

“Babe, we’re going to be fine. You can do it.”

“Ohhhhh….nonononono…”

The wire above us clicked into place as I began to hyperventilate, and a voice over the radio counted down, “Three, two, one, pull.”

“Ohmygahohmygahohmygah—”

“Sadie, you can do it.”

“I can’t, I ca—”

But I did do it, and I have never screamed so loud in my entire life.

Back on the ground, in between kisses, my empowering spouse gushed, “I’m so glad you decided to pull it because I really didn’t want to and I was actually terrified the whole time—”

“You WERE??”

“I was SCARED, but I didn’t want you to be scared and I feel so close to you right now and I love you so much and I’m so proud of you!”

(Hi, this is Luke Harkema, and I approve this message).

***

“I am so glad I married you,”

we tell each other

several times a week.

***

Two weeks ago, on our one year anniversary, we attended a Tantric intimacy workshop (sans directly sexual practices) at Kula Yoga. No one can say we got stuck in a rut after our first year.

Face to face, we sit on the ground, cross-legged, holding hands,

(I get to share life with you)

knees touching, eyes locked, deep breaths.

(How crazy is that)?

We bow low to the ground, in turn, to honor one another.

(You have been divine help in a form I can understand.)

We embrace, and our breath becomes one oceanic sound.

(I love you. Thank you for loving me.)

“Melt into each other,” whispers the instructor.

We do.

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