Thirty years is a long time. A very long time. And there are days when it feels like those years happened in hyper-speed; other days when it feels more like a century.
The hubby and I are reaching a milestone this month….and yes, you guessed it: we’ve been hitched for 30 years.
What is most shocking is that I can clearly remember everything about our beginning (which was actually 33 years ago). We were two immature 20 somethings, traversing a new relationship that transpired solely by chance. I’d met him through my ex (perfect fodder for a novel, I know). He was slightly cocky, but incredibly charming and kind to me. Six-foot something to my slightly over five foot height. I was a starry-eyed girl, crushing hard on the tall man who hid his emotions behind his Ray Bans. We were friends initially – for about 6 months or so – and grew closer as my other relationship imploded. Our first official date was June 21, 1986. Not a date by “normal” standards. We hung out with friends of ours – doing the dinner and movie thing. We also hung out in the hot tub together…and conveniently he and his buddy “forgot” their bathing suits. We still laugh about how completely awkward the whole evening was.
He and I stayed up long after the others had gone to bed, talking and watching “Airplane” (twice) and “Witness”. And in case you’re wondering….yes, he kissed me that night for the first time.
Looking back on that awkward beginning, it’s a wonder we’ve come so far. We’ve purchased homes. We’ve been poor and counted every penny. We’ve watched two incredible kids grow into adults. We’ve fought and loved and laughed. In no way has it been perfect. There have been mistakes made – many on my part, I admit. There have been days when we’ve hardly spoken to one another and other days when my hand is permanently glued to his. He’s my best friend, and I am his. Truly, after more than thirty years together, I doubt we could ask for more.
I’ve had a wonderful example of what a good marriage could be by watching my own parents. They’ve been married for 56 years (almost 57). Their marriage hasn’t been perfect either, but they are the perfect balance for one another. I’m so very grateful for the example they’ve shown me on what works and what doesn’t.
My hubby, on the other hand, was not lucky enough to have that in his life. His parents had a contentious divorce…and until his father passed away a few years ago, they could not say one nice word about the other. And yet, their son is a champion on being a good partner in a marriage. Imagine that.
I don’t have any brilliant words of wisdom to those out there who are newly married. I don’t even have anything particularly insightful to say to folks who’ve been married for a while. What I can say – and believe me, it’s amusing that this is coming out of my mouth – marriage isn’t the perfect bliss that romance novels portray it as. Let’s be real for a minute….once the high fades and you settle into your relationship, things like love and sex take a back seat. Trust me on this….there are far more important things to making a marriage work. Things like:
Laughter. Laugh together. Laugh often. Laugh at each other and at yourself. If you cannot laugh with your partner, you have bigger issues.
Pain is a given. Know and understand that you will hurt one another. You will (as have I) fuck things up. Learn from your mistakes. Try harder. Be better. Do more.
Enjoy doing the little things together. The hubby and I joke with our son and his wife about our “date nights”, which typically consist of a meal out and a visit to the grocery store. All kidding aside, this stuff matters. All the little things are what add to the foundation of your relationship. Sure, the love is there. The attraction still is as well. But it’s the sum of these tiny moments that cement those 30-odd years.
Know when to just shut your mouth. The hubby and I have only had a few huge fights over the years. Sure, we argue, but we aren’t the type of people who feed off the angst in our relationship. But while I used to snipe at him about every little thing, I have learned to choose my battles. Would I like to bitch at him about the garbage? Of course I would. And sometimes I do. Other times I just shut up and take it out myself. That’s just one instance, but you get the picture. Not every battle is worth battling about, if that makes sense.
Change is a given. Understand that with time, you both will change. I am certainly not the starry-eyed girl I was when we met. I’ve changed. I’ve matured. I’ve grown in ways that have not always been something he would approve of. Those changes were hard for him initially. I think he sometimes still sees me as that girl. Just know that all changes don’t have to be bad, and change – as with all the other stuff in your relationship – isn’t simply a given, it’s a blessing.
As I’m writing this post (a few months before the actual anniversary), we’re still kicking around ideas of how to celebrate this milestone. We’d really like to take a big trip – visit New York or go to Europe – but work commitments and the hubby’s classes to finally get his degree in business, may delay the celebration. Twenty-year old me would have been pissed about that. Fifty-something me takes it in stride, knowing the celebration itself is not what’s important. It’s the minutes and hours and days and years that make up the reason to celebrate that truly matter.
Happy anniversary, my love. I know you won’t read this (because you don’t read anything I’ve written, and that’s okay). But I want the world to know how blessed I feel having you by my side. I want to thank you for your love and trust and honesty. I want to thank you for always supporting me, having my back, and never giving up on us. I want you to know that even though we’re a little different on the outside now, we are still those same two crazy kids who fell madly in love with one another, despite my mullet and your cargo pants.