What They Never Tell You


There is something
no one tells you
while the guests are still there,
while the cake watches,
while the rings still feel
like something stuck between
your teeth.

What that thing is,
what no one tells you,
(during the toasts or the speeches
or the dancing)
is that you will need to
say those two words
and again

and again.

The preacher makes it sound
like it’s once-and-done,
but it’s

After the first fight,
for example,
the one that catches you
off guard,
you will have to say those two words,
and again after the twenty-seventh
argument about the same thing,
your tone, maybe,
or the smallest rolling
of the eyes.

And again
after the one hundred
and fifth
when you’re sitting on the floor
of your office
in despair
and she is in the room
or despairing, too,
over things you cannot name
and never could have foreseen.

And again
this time gladly
on nights when your hands
under the covers, live wires,
or when your child leaves
the room, and you
smile at each other with joy
there goes the two of you
and so much more
in one body.

Or when the little strip just won’t
turn. And the months pass
marked by what arrives
and what does not.

Until sickness and health
are behind you
and death has parted you.
One hundred
in every little way and every big way
in every glance and every sigh.

I do.

You know,
I say those words
every day, every minute.
I peek into the room and see
you sitting in the sunshine,
eyes closed, tired from every little thing,
and I whisper it to myself, though no
one else is there
to witness it.

No one else,
I do.

16 Replies to “What They Never Tell You”

  1. I love this! After 44 years of marriage, it is still true. I had never thought of it in this way before, but you are spot-on. Thank you.

  2. Such a great reminder. Every day we need to choose to honor our vow. This is going on the fridge.

  3. Shawn, I just met you through a share on Facebook from Michelle DeRusha. Oh, my word, how moving is this poem! In the most simplest of phrases, you have given prophetic weight to those seemingly insignificant words, “I do.” I will long remember your post and poem here.
    Blessings to you!

  4. What a moving piece and an encouragement. I am now thinking of all that ways I can choose to say “I do” or not say it by the smallest glance or the greatest act of service. Thank you.

  5. Love the format. It works beautifully to frame the lovely words. How long did it take you to write it? It would be sweet to do it in callegraphy & framed – in a special frame & …perhaps an anniversary gift? What a treasure!

    Do you have poetry anywhere else?

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