“How many years have we been married?”
My husband flashes back a look that reads—you’re the wife, isn’t that your job to know these things?
But rather he replies, “Eighteen years.”
On the outside I exclaim, “Wow!” But inside my heart sighs. We’ve been through much.
We’ve known each other for over twenty years, together for nineteen, and vowed for eighteen. What amazes me, after so many years, is that I still don’t know everything there is to know about this man I buddied up with for life. And I think—know—on occasion I still shock him.
The comfortableness of our long marriage has only come because we stuck it out during the tension and struggles—when it wasn’t peaceful or comfortable. I recall many times I had to choose my spouse over everything and everyone else. It was a learning processes of putting him first, getting unselfish. There are the times when I felt misunderstood and like a stranger. The times when I bought one marriage book after the next, trying to get him to read one so he’d understand me better.
I don’t know how many books, and audio tapes/CDs I went through trying to entice him to read JUST. ONE. BOOK. I think the best he ever did was read a chapter. Maybe even a quiz. His disinterest, as I interpreted it, used to flip me out. Then one day, in the midst of yet another book, the light bulb went on and I’ve never looked at a marriage-help book the same again. In fact it cured me. I have never once felt compelled to purchase a book for my husband since the “light-bulb” moment.
Amazingly I can owe this to Phillip McGraw (aka: Dr. Phil) author of Relationship Rescue. I wish I could pull out the book and accurately quote what has stuck with me. But the truth is that in a fit of frustration and drama I took my copy, my husband’s copy, and the CD I bought him (so that he didn’t have to “read”) and tossed them into the trash. Looking back that was moronically stupid. I should have just put a $100 bill in the dumpster.
Anyways, the message was: chances are you bought this book to fix someone else, but you need to start with you.
And it’s so true. Don’t we always go blaming others when relationships—intimate and platonic—are less than ideal? You blame your boss, your kids, your family, your friends, your spouse, God—but rarely do you blame you.
But it’s true. There was a reason I was head-over-heels about my husband for those years before we sealed the deal. And those reasons are still around today. But all of life’s struggles and crap and movie-romance fairytales muck-up our perceptions of what relationships are really about. That is, the good, the bad, the ugly—not just in your spouse but more importantly in YOU. Overall, in most cases, we must stick it out and make it work. And work on ourselves (not our spouse). PERIOD.
Today, I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Sticking it out—with him—has been the best thing I’ve ever done. I always say, I’m not easy to love—I’ve got large doses of good, bad, and ugly. But when someone sticks it out with me—when I am loved— you will not find a more loyal person on your side. After all these years, my husband is still on my side, he loves me, and I loyally love and adore him for all his good, bad, and ugly too.
He is strong when I am weak.
He makes awesome spaghetti.
He makes me laugh because he’s such an idiot (and I say this in the most loving way).
He likes our cats (it took time, but yeah, he likes them).
He held me when I cried over the death of Sasha.
He’s learning to hug for 20-painfully-long-seconds.
He smiles for me.
He laughs with—and at—me.
He supports my passions—because it’s what I believe.
He holds to his values—even when it pisses me off.
He takes pride in everything, even the mowed lines of the grass.
He could beat up a bad guy with his pit-bull tenacity and strength.
He’s weak when it comes to cookies.
He knew how many years we’ve been married (because, honestly, I forgot).