Tonight, you walked on without me, and the perfect night I had envisioned in my head just wasn’t so perfect.
It was a chilly night in our small hometown, a night to celebrate the coming of the season. We were taking part in a tradition that had become our own, one that always makes me appreciate our small-town life and small-town love.
With my head covered by my favorite winter hat and my fingers carefully tucked into mittens, I was ready to walk hand-in-hand and celebrate the coming of the winter season with you at the hometown tree lighting. Hot chocolate kisses under the starlit sky and sweet laughter were what I had in mind. I pictured my head on your shoulder as we took in the moment together as we’ve done so many other times. I pictured “remember when” moments and happy laughter as we prepared to celebrate the coming of a new season with the countdown to the not-so-big moment in our town center.
But instead, you walked on. You didn’t hold my hand or share in an inside joke with me. You plodded on, chatting with someone else, laughing under the starlit sky as I trudged behind, alone, the chilly air bleeding through my mittens and hat.
It wasn’t anything really. It wasn’t a devastating moment or a sign or a cruel mistreatment. It was a simple gesture, an innocent action on your part. You didn’t realize you were slaughtering the moment I had clung to, the moment I thought we’d mark down as a sweet moment in our book of memories.
As you walked on without me and chatted with a friend, I saw the moment I had planned vanish into a puff. I saw the sweet, Hallmark-worthy moment disappear. I saw what so many people often say: Married life isn’t always perfect. Married life doesn’t always play out like a movie.
We stood together at the small-town event, but we didn’t. We were aloof, the few feet between us inexplicably feeling like a mile. There was no hand-holding moment, no hot chocolate kisses—we had gotten there too late for hot chocolate anyway. When the town counted down to one and the tree lit up, I didn’t turn to you and smile. I just stood and stewed, feeling alone instead of together. Feeling cold instead of warm.
We walked home, silence creeping between us for no apparent reason. I felt a little frustrated, a little disappointed. I thought of all those other years when we were dating and engaged. I thought of how the romance maybe has died a little. I thought about how sometimes married life does change things after all.
As I unwrapped my scarf and took off my hat when we got home, though, I thought of something else.
I thought about how even though this moment wasn’t quite what I had imagined, there were so many other moments that were more than I could’ve imagined. All of the sweet gestures and the smiles. All of the laughter and the jokes. All of the hand-holding moments, the unexpected kisses, and the perfectly imperfect moments of just you and me.
Not every moment in married life plays out like a sweet love story, and sometimes love marches to its own beat. We can try to plan those moments of connection, but it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes there’s no reason for it not to… sometimes in marriage, there are just “off” moments. Sometimes the Instagram worthy moments don’t quite play out as we wanted.
Tonight wasn’t one of our magical moments. It wasn’t one of those nights that underscore romance is alive and well. Tonight didn’t prove that being married is rosy and perfect.
Tonight was just an okay night, maybe even less than okay.
However, as I’ve come to learn… that’s okay.
Marriage isn’t perfect. It isn’t a Hallmark movie or a romance novel all of the time.
Marriage, however, is about loving each other anyway. It’s about knowing that even when you walk on without me, you’ll eventually turn around and realize you need to wait for me to catch up.
It’s about knowing that even when the distance grows between us, we’ll work to grab each other’s hands once more.
It’s about knowing that even though tonight wasn’t perfect, there will be other moments that make up for it. It’s about knowing that even when disappointment creeps in, I love you anyway.
It’s about how even when we’re not walking together, even when you walk on, our hearts are still connected, our love is still important, and we’ll be okay.
Love isn’t as easy as a movie because real life, real love is way more complicated.
So we walk on, sometimes together, sometimes apart, but always headed in the same direction… and tonight, that’s good enough for me.
Lindsay Detwiler is a contemporary romance author with Hot Tree Publishing and a high school English teacher. To learn more about her works, visit www.lindsaydetwiler.com.