My husband and I did not court. I don’t even know if that is the way you say it. He didn’t court me? I wasn’t courted? We met in November 1992 through a mutual friend who knew we weren’t interested in dating. We were so disinterested in dating that we went straight for marriage. We got engaged December 26, 1992. We got married April 24, 1993. We had a simple ceremony with three pastors and about 1,000 of our parents’ closest friends. We have been married 24 years.
This past weekend we decided to use our daughter’s final faculty dance concert as an excuse to go away for the weekend. Our collective memory is a bit foggy, but we agreed that it was the first time we have gone away alone on a trip since our first wedding anniversary. We can unpack that later, but here in no particular order is a list of things I’ve been reflecting on as we approached our 24th wedding anniversary.
- Sometimes you need to go to bed angry because you can’t solve anything with sleep deprivation.
- Don’t get married if you don’t like conflict or if you don’t like working hard at relationships. Get a pet. Seriously.
- Loving someone isn’t the same as liking someone. There are many moments when we have had to remember we love each other even though in the moment we don’t like each other.
- If you have access to health care, see your primary care physician regularly. I love Peter, and I want “until death do us part” be later rather than sooner.
- Marriage isn’t 50/50. It isn’t a contract. It isn’t a cake you split in half. It’s kinda like sharing an ice cream sundae – messy, imprecise, etc. There isn’t time to count the peanuts or sprinkles before the ice cream melts. And you usually only get one cherry, which I would give to Peter because I don’t like maraschino cherries. I don’t actually like ice cream sundaes…
- Don’t forget your friends. Women, don’t forget your girlfriends. Really. They will rage and complain with you, but when the crap hits the fan they will help you fight for your marriage. I’m assuming the same goes for you men and your friends, whom you probably don’t refer to as your boyfriends because of socialization.
- Marriage counseling is a good thing. It’s even better if you do it before you want to kill each other.
- Over communicate. I fall into a rut with all this texting, assuming I told him about something at some point when in actuality I had not said anything. I may have started a text or thought about telling him when we had time in the evening.
- I wish Google calendars had existed earlier in our marriage.
- Keep doing the things you enjoy doing as a couple. You are married to each other, not your work, not your children, not your garden or your car (neither of which are our issues).
- Talk with each other. I know and Peter knows when I’m talking at him as opposed to talking with him. Talking at him serves a purpose – grocery lists, last-minute errands on the way home from some other thing, etc. Talking with him is what keeps us connected to each other.
- We change. Neither of us had a taste for alcohol when we first got married. Five years ago I didn’t think I’d ever enjoy beer…or whiskey. Twenty-four years ago I would never have imagined Peter ordering an Old Fashioned.
- Sometimes we don’t change because we aren’t given the opportunity. For example, if you don’t like the way the other person folds towels, discuss it early on in the marriage.
- Sex gets better only if you have it. Have sex. Women, if you haven’t had an orgasm (and if you don’t know if you have, you haven’t) talk to your spouse. Seriously. What is the point???? (And please don’t comment if you are going to tell me the point is only procreation. I am not having any more babies.)
- I am always learning how to communicate better. Yelling often doesn’t help, but sometimes it does.
- Give space, time, and money (when possible) to each other’s dreams and God’s gifting. Peter has learned what an all-night writing session does to my meal planning.
- Try new things. It took three attempts before I could appreciate the humor of The Holy Grail. It also took several attempts before I agreed to watch Battlestar Galactica. I am so thankful Peter was patient and persistent.
- Give space, time, and money (when possible) to each other’s healing. Counseling takes time. Getting to a place where I could say, “I think I’m depressed” took time. Going on meds took support, time, and health insurance. Be gentle with each other.
- If you choose and are able to have a family, children will not make you better spouses. Having children make you parents. There is a difference and overlap. Know the difference.
- Practice being that old couple you see. You know that couple that walks around the neighborhood holding hands. Practice being that couple.
- Even after 24 years, some jokes are still not funny.
- Even after 24 years, we can still surprise each other. He says he can’t multitask but last night he folded the laundry and ironed shirts while watching the playoffs.
- You actually can start to read each other’s minds but don’t rely on it.
- Dream together for each other.
- This one is for next year.
Happy anniversary to us, Peter!