During the retreat there were experienced couples sharing their stories of marriage - tips to make the relationship last and flourish. And I listened. Contritely. After all, we had already been friends for 8 years, we had a child well on her way to 2, and I knew dang well I went to bed angry. More than once. And I knew he had, too. There seemed to be an abundance of couples in the world who had a lovely anecdote ready to share - and our relationship was not living up to the generally accepted "guidelines for a great marriage." Nah, no stress there. But we persevered - the only casualty being an electric griddle which I still miss to this day. Twenty years later.
Yes, today marks the 20th anniversary (china anniversary) of my marriage. It seems going to bed angry doesn't derail a marriage after all. In fact there are lots and lots of "guidelines" we have both broken more than a couple of times.
But here are some we use:
1. Show compassion for each other: "Obviously you are hurt, so call the doctor! What do you think I can do?"
2. Use flirtation to stay connected on a fun level: "Oh baby, you know how excited I get when you fold the laundry."
3. Make alone time for yourselves as a couple: "I gotta get out of the house, wanna run to Walmart with me?"
4. Share your hobbies: "I thought I'd come stand here and watch you sand some wood for a bit before I go back to reading my book."
5. Discuss all major decisions as a team: me:"The baby was removed from her parents and we need to take her." him: "Okay. I'll leave work now."
What? We live by the letter of the rules if not the spirit. What we do have is a spirit of of loyalty and a shared history that reminds us of our connection and devotion. I know that when the world seems hostile and I just want someone on my side he will be there for me. Whether it's tagging off in parenting or deciding a home project we are partners. Partners don't always see things the same, and they certainly don't do things the same, but they are willing to share the responsibility and the rewards. We laugh - at the silly moments and sometimes at the darkest moments. We love - everyday and through the annoyances.
So it is to that nervous girl wondering if her husband-to-be is going to be on time, attired appropriately, if he will break her heart or be there for the duration I say, relax. Life is not easy, but you have a partner who will face it with you. Here's to the next 20 years.