24 Years together. Everything was against us (statistically speaking). We started dating at 18, married at 19, experienced the untimely death of a parent, went through a horrific car accident together, had a baby at 20, ruined our credit, lost jobs, borrowed money from a generous parent to stay off of food stamps, witnessed the brutal divorce of parents right after our son was born, went through a sibling’s suicide a year later, worked our asses off to buy a house at 34 with the help of a generous parent and grandparent, and one of us tried very hard to pursue a career in music while the other acted as president of the fan club.
Sometimes I suspect we’re held together with spit and a prayer (metaphorically because he’s an atheist and I’m agnostic), but I really think we’re held together with crazy glue. Crazy. Glue.
*I don’t know how we did it, not really. I have some theories, and by no means is the following an exhaustive list.
- We are true friends. There’s no one I would rather have a conversation with. No one I’d rather debate with. No one I’d rather quiz with random food trivia. No one I’d rather prove me wrong. No one I’d rather seek advice from. He’s who I go to first.
- We’re comfortable with silence. We’re doing it right now. He’s on his phone. I’m writing this blog, both completely comfortable.
- He lets me do most of the talking (unless he’s been drinking scotch). If you’ve met me, you know it’s critical to let me keep talking until I’m out of breath. It’s like letting the air out of the balloon.
- We rarely fight. When we do its about the important things (the all ighty ollar mostly). I know some people feel less fighting equals less communication, but when did you last fight with your best friend? It feels horrible.
- We learn together. I’m often self conscious, insecure, and Co-dependent. As a result I tend to compensate with vanity, exhibitionism, secret keeping, and general nonsense. Then I over correct by running away or hiding. He’s learned to recognize the signs that I’m diving down that rabbit hole and I’ve learned to communicate before it ever happens. He’s learned to talk to me, to show emotion, to tell me what he needs.
- We laugh together. Generally about extremely inappropriate things and each other. We laugh a lot with each other. Like the awkward situations he causes with wait staff in restaurants (oh the stories) or my “math face” or when I forgot most of everything I said for 72 hours after surgery. I’ll admit, we often laugh with our son and if others were privy to those conversations we’d get some very confused, possibly concerned reactions. We’re not a family that holds back.
- He protects me. Yes, I’m aware that this completely goes against any feminist philosophy. I literally mean he protects me. He’s a giant.
- I’m good with my hands.
- He’s also handy. I’ve watched him fix more cars than I can count.
- I can hold my own with his friends.
- He cooks. Well. Extremely well.
- We listen to each other and when one of us isn’t listening we’re sure to catch the attention of the other and hold it.
- We anticipate each other’s needs.
- We keep routine as often as possible.
- We still don’t totally understand each other. I know that sounds bad, but it’s not. Sometimes he’ll have a look on his face or won’t react to something or uses a tone that confuses me and it allows me the opportunity to say hey- what does that mean and get some insight into his inner workings that I never had before. Behaviors don’t stay the same for 24 years.
- I take care of him (when he lets me), he takes care of me. Sick? Here’s a tissue, Tylenol, something to drink. Sad? Do you need a hug or need me to stay away for a while?
- We make life easy whenever we can. Complicated is hard to maintain.
- He surface cleans. I detail.
- We make sure we both have creative outlets, encourage each other, back each other all the way.
- We compromise. Sometimes he doesn’t like to make decisions about what to eat, what to watch, where we go- he likes to be along for the ride. I don’t like to stick to a budget but I make sure he finds the best deals because he enjoys the hunt. He never wanted a dog, but he knows how much I love them and he learned to love our dog too (and picked up more poo than I ever did).
- He brings me coffee and breakfast in bed on the weekend and I do things I’m not going to mention here- and not just on the weekends or birthdays or anniversaries. It’s often. It’s quality.
- We know what’s important to each other. Art, music, food, movies- we know each other’s favorites and are excited for new favorites. We share the same taste in most things, although I’ll never enjoy Neil Hamburger.
- I get excited when he gets excited! It’s so cute (and rare)! Like going to see his favorite band or our upcoming dinner with a celebrity chef. He puts up with my over excitement, often resulting in squealing exclamations only dogs can detect. He’s also an expert giver of presents- I could never rise to that level with him, but I’m pretty sure I had a lot to do with how well and often he surprises me.
- He lets me have the remote. For 24 years I’ve had the remote.
It’s not like everyday is perfect. Everyday is usually just another day of work, sitting on the couch, food, bed. But when those days are spent together they’re much more pleasant than when we’re apart.
We’ve both made mistakes- some truly monumental, but we forgive, we forget, we move on. Nothing and no one is worth breaking such a strong bond or letting go of so much history. We’ve triumphed over adversity and we’ll do it again and again.
It’s not luck or fate that keeps us together. It’s skill. And love.
I love you, Joe!
*Edited to clarify intent:
External assistance (which was and is appreciated), support of friends and family, wonderful examples of successful marriages from his parents and friends, therapy and constant communication- all certainly qualify as part and parcel to our successful marriage thus far; but this list and blog entry is solely dedicated to the internal workings of our relationship as a couple and is in no way intended to diminish the positive external forces that are part of our marital dynamic. We end each day with each other and look inward and to one another for ultimate support and strength as it should be.