What Marriage Means to Me

After dropping the kids off, I came home and stopped in the kitchen to take in the aftermath of our chaotic morning together. And it got me thinking.

There were the bibs I should have tossed in the sink that were leaking milk onto the counter. Their little toothbrushes they used to scrub the teeth that have been keeping them up at night. Tiny hairbands from Penelope’s quick updo in which she kept repeating the word “bosh” while I brushed her hair as she wiggled her head out of my grasp with each stroke. The stacked plates, empty and crusty after a hurried but hilarious breakfast full of giggles ad music. The twins and I bounced along to the Christmas music as they ate their bananas and eggs while I prayed for the coffee maker to go faster. Pete used to protest Christmas music in the morning, now he encourages it. Parenting changes us, doesn’t it?

He danced around me and fed the dogs while singing along, getting the kids to smile and giggle with his silly faces and voices — while doing his best not to get anything on his suit pants before rushing out the door and off to the to the airport. I didn’t remember where he was headed, but I knew it was important.

This is what marriage is to me.

Mornings spent negotiating the daily schedule while stuffing diaper bags. It’s the sweat-inducing challenge of getting a sweater on a wiggling toddler and the smile that comes from how cute they are once you succeed. It’s scattered building blocks on the floor and scrambled eggs on the wall. It’s goodbye kisses at the door and thermoses of coffee in the minivan. It’s having the right to juggle it all with the person who makes you feel loved and supported amidst the chaos.

It’s the right to have a shoulder to lean on at end of the day in the first place.

It’s the promise of hard work for your partner, your kids, and for us, our country.

My marriage has filled this house with so much love it makes me want to be a better husband, father, and citizen every day. It’s called me to something bigger than myself while recognizing that my kids are now the most important thing in life, and I’d do anything to protect them. Our family and our union push me to make sure we leave our kids a country and a world they can thrive in so that they, too, can enjoy all of the love and light and happiness that Pete and I have known simply by falling in love with one another.

I know how precious this union is and how sacred and fragile our unions can be in the eyes of our ever-changing democracy. We are not yet afforded the pleasure of letting our shoulders down, of taking a breath. We are fully aware that some desperately want to take this away. I hope that we can move on from these votes, these arguments, and these debates soon.

The Senate is poised to vote on the #RespectForMarriageAct today. I hope that our friends on the other side of the aisle will listen to over 70% of Americans and vote to protect families like mine and the unions that make us all better Americans.

And if a member of congress is confused, or has questions and wants to turn down the noise from the online rhetoric — our playroom is always open, should you want to meet a family who is just trying their best to make their kids happy and their country better, just like you.

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Chasten Buttigieg

Husband, father, teacher, advocate, and bestselling author of "I Have Something to Tell You.".