First year: Well, who doesn’t love a baby?? This is the best stage EVER! It’s all love, love, love all day, every day. You can’t get over how cute everything is, smiling all the time, happy to the point of grossing out your non-married friends. It’s disgustingly sweet.
Toddler years: Yeah, that ‘new baby’ phase is over. The marriage has found legs and words and is using both. Frequently. This time is all about learning. New discoveries. New experiences. Conversations become more involved and deeper. But, occasionally you still walk into walls and fall down for no reason other than your balance being off.
4-9 years: This is a great period of time because you really get to settle in. This is when you start getting real. At this point you’ve been to the circus, you’ve seen the clowns, you’ve eaten and gotten sick on the cotton candy and there is no mystery to what happens with all that animal poop. These years of hyper reality either make or break a marriage, often. It’s when marriage strips off its shiny veneer and shows the true, no makeup, first thing in the morning, breath like you walked all night with an open mouth through a sewer, picking your bellybutton on the couch while you drink a beer, dirty socks in the corner, peeing in the shower, honest to god selves.
10 years: Double digits! The first really big milestone! Likely there will be a party. Definitely there will be cake. People congratulate you, and if they’re one of the people who held bets that it wouldn’t last, you get tempted to spit in their punch. This is the year of inside jokes and a renewed sense of fun. You’ve really matured and even though there are still a LOT of silly fart jokes that make you spit out your milk laughing, you stand a little taller, feel a little older, more grown up. Ten is a good year.
Teen years: This is where stuff gets rough again. Teenagers are notoriously restless and this is also true for teen-year marriages. Hormones run wild, and in many cases, work starts to be the main relationship putting a strain on the marriage one. Teens change their minds A LOT and have notorious wandering eyes. These are the years when you start to wonder if maybe the grass might indeed be greener. However, all those hormones mean that if you don’t get too distracted, then the teenage infatuation, lovey-dovey-ness will likely work in your favour.
21 years: Congratulations! Your marriage has now made it through, past the twenty year mark and is officially an adult. You can drink anywhere you want, you have a vote, you can buy lottery tickets, hell, you can pretty much do whatever you like. It’s a good feeling. Making it to 21 years of marriage means you’ve come through all the extreme highs, the extreme lows and you’re still kicking, ready to take on the world. At 21, most marriages are pretty rock solid. In fact, they almost have that air of snob to them.
“Ohh, look at me, I’m a big grown up and you’re still a baby”
The 21 year old marriage can go for a walk in a mall and see a toddler marriage bickering and can think (with a benevolent head tilt) “rookies”.
Everything after 21 is gravy. Sure, there are still a few bad bits stuck into the folder at this point, but, for the most part the good outweighs the bad. You’ve come through it all together. Beyond 21 years you come to the realization that to try and start all over again as a baby would be exhausting, and, the way priorities often shift, a good night’s sleep next to someone who already knows your nocturnal farting habits is second only to a good hot bath.
My marriage turns 21 in just a few months. Those teen years, ironically much like my own, were a bitch. But, again much like my own, the teens were survived and I believe helped make us stronger.
If my marriage was a person, it’d be much calmer at 21 years than I personally was. But I look back at all that has been thrown at us and I know that, while I would never want to do some of it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.