These Should Be the Real Marriage Vows by Tatyana M. Sussex

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looking out paned window outside to a path

I do solemnly swear, that I will give you your afternoon nap. When we spend a midsummer week in a Colorado mountain town to visit family and share a condo with my parents, I will not insist that you hike up a nearby dirt road into a rough forest after we’ve already taken a morning walk and eaten a noisy bistro lunch of steamed mussels and sourdough crust with my parents, my brother, his wife and their two kids. I won’t plead with you to swim in the tree-lined saline pool across the street when you want a little peace and quiet. I won’t sit hard on the edge of the bed and ooze disappointment because you turned down an epic sunset ramble in, as I call them, the beautiful goddamn mountains.  

Instead, I will tuck you in beneath the patchwork quilted bed cover, put my hands on either side of your face and kiss your nose. I will not stomp my restless legs out to the balcony where my mom reads and stare hungrily at the lush golf course, the walking paths curving toward a chalky red mountain base, and rock ledges.

When my mother asks, “What is it, love?” I won’t harrumph my cheeks into my shoulders and whine, “He’s napping.” I won’t hear my mother sigh, put her book on her lap, and say, “Let him be, he did all the driving today.” I won’t persist with, “Do you think something’s wrong with him?” I will notice how my mother glances over to my dad asleep on a lounge, and says with a dimpled smile, “You do have a lot of energy, love.”

Dear husband, I promise that at 2 o’clock on a summer mountain holiday I will pull off your shorts and sticky T-shirt and push you down onto the bed. I will lick your smile with the tip of my tongue, suckle the hair on your pectorals, brush my burnt cheeks against your stubby ones and wish you sweet dreams. Then I will double knot my trail shoes and bound off into the greenest valley of seven thousand feet above sea level. I will stare at a red fox for five minutes, take photos of columbine and Indian paint brush. I will find trails and run through scratchy grasses and stop to admire Mt. Sopris and the Maroon Bells in the distant folds. And when I miss you, I’ll know that loneliness is just a story I’m making up. I will take that tired story and feed it to the second fox that crosses my path, startling us both; I will use my lonely-girl myth to fertilize the lupine. I will remind myself of philosopher Alain de Botton’s words: “Compatibility isn’t the sign of love, compatibility is the work of love.”

When my neediness is gobbled up by the wild, I will return home serene, and discover you’re still snoozing. I will lie down beside you and move my fingertips over that soft boy-skin on the side of your torso. I’ll undress quietly and take myself to the fabulous saline pool where I’ll swim laps of backstroke while looking up at the pointy-tipped pines. When you wake up, don’t be startled to see me looking down at you, in damp hair and chlorine-scented skin. I will offer you the most comfortable non-walking loafers and a beer. As we sit on the deck with my parents, trading dinner ideas as the cloud bellies pinken, I might suggest a twenty-minute saunter before dinner—twenty, thirty minutes max. Unless you want to go longer, of course.

Meet the Contributor

Tatyana SussexTatyana M. Sussex is a writer and personal coach. She works with creatives and re-inventors, hosts an online Salon for Beauty Hunters, and offers virtual writing retreats. She has recently completed a memoir about marrying at 49, “Late Bloomer: A Midlife Love Story.” Tatyana lives with her husband on Mercer Island, Washington, a Seattle suburb in the shape of a foot, where she swims, walks the neighborhoods, contemplates the beauty of daily life, and spends time with family and friends.

Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Virginia State Parks

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