29 Things I Learned During 29 Years of Marriage

My Dear Readers,

This is our third anniversary celebrated during the global pancetta. It’s surreal to think that in April 2020 all three of our children were home perfecting our personal athleisure style, doing puzzles, and naively believing that it would just be a few more weeks of sheltering in place.

Today is our 29th wedding anniversary. We had a big fat Korean immigrant wedding with 1,000 people – friends, family, and church members with a buffet dinner in the church basement. He was 28 and I was 22. This year we can start making withdrawals from his retirement accounts. (Fortunately we don’t have to and won’t.) We were incredibly young and naive. It bothered Peter, but I often said I was young and stupid. It was true. Now I’m older and definitely stupid, and I know it.

I wrote my first list of this kind in 2013 to mark our 20th anniversary. The rules are simple. I don’t look at the list from the previous year. I sit down, and I write. I write what I learned about marriage, myself, and love.

THE LIST

  1. Sometimes being the sacrificial mother and wife is stupid and actually harmful.
  2. The finality of menopause is a lie. There are no more eggs in the basket yet I’m still hot-flashing and night sweating. It’s hard to feel sexy and attractive when your body suddenly feels like a burning house.
  3. Love is a discipline and a choice. 
  4. Saying “I love you” can be a lot easier than actually loving my husband. Hearing “I love you” isn’t as important as feeling loved by my husband.
  5. I’m grateful to be aging with someone.
  6. It took a lot longer for me not to care about farting in front of Peter than it did for Peter to not care about farting in front of me. Now we either don’t care or our hearing is starting to fail and we just don’t hear it. Yes, sometimes we still act like we are in middle school.
  7. We each have separate blankets instead of fighting over one. GAME CHANGER.
  8. I regret having waited so long to buy a king size bed.
  9. I’m glad we have the terribly produced wedding video. It took years before I could laugh at it and appreciate it.
  10. Money doesn’t make you happy but it sure is helpful.
  11. I have never regretted keeping my “maiden” name.
  12. I regret not going back to school.
  13. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you can’t still feel hurt.
  14. Purity culture really messed up the early years of our sex life.
  15. Marriage and parenting have a lot of similarities. There is a lot of deciding “is this the hill I want to die on?” moments.
  16. A coffee drinker and a non-coffee drinker can stay married.
  17. Peter can’t read my mind.
  18. Sometimes I can read Peter’s mind.
  19. It’s never too late to start therapy, get a mental health diagnosis, take a sleep study, get a CPAP, or start medication.
  20. You marry into another family and that means double the fun and double the baggage.
  21. Your spouse’s habits, hobbies, and interests can become your own. I now read and watch sci-fi and he likes to go thrifting. For a few years I stopped making the bed because Peter never made the bed. Then for awhile I just made my side of the bed. And then I just stopped. Now that we have our own blankets I have gone back to making my side of the bed.
  22. That probably means sometimes you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Yes, I am the dog in the scenario. It also could be Peter and learning how to fold and put away the linens. 
  23. Having sex when the kids were little was challenging because being parents of young children was exhausting. Now, having sex is challenging because we are tired because we are getting older. Also, our 22-year-old son lives at home, and clearly I haven’t shaken off all the purity culture baggage.
  24. I’m not sure if streaming services have been a good thing for our marriage or a bad thing.
  25. Maintaining good friends – singles, couples, our “own” separate friends has been as important for me as my marriage.
  26. Over-communicate not only your needs/wants but also what you love and appreciate about your spouse in ways they can understand and receive.
  27. I really enjoy cooking and feeding my family until about Wednesday night.
  28. In my most honest moments, I wonder what it would’ve been like if I had gone back to school or gotten divorced when our silence was so loud or put my name in the hat for the job that would’ve required more travel and time.
  29. I still hope to grow old with Peter and be that old couple who holds hands on walks.
An Asian American woman and man wearing disposable surgical face masks while sitting inside a large stadium.

It seems appropriate that I share a photo of the two of us in masks. We were waiting to watch #RunMySon graduate.

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