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.
- Sometimes being the sacrificial mother and wife is stupid and actually harmful.
- 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.
- Love is a discipline and a choice.
- 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.
- I’m grateful to be aging with someone.
- 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.
- We each have separate blankets instead of fighting over one. GAME CHANGER.
- I regret having waited so long to buy a king size bed.
- I’m glad we have the terribly produced wedding video. It took years before I could laugh at it and appreciate it.
- Money doesn’t make you happy but it sure is helpful.
- I have never regretted keeping my “maiden” name.
- I regret not going back to school.
- Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you can’t still feel hurt.
- Purity culture really messed up the early years of our sex life.
- Marriage and parenting have a lot of similarities. There is a lot of deciding “is this the hill I want to die on?” moments.
- A coffee drinker and a non-coffee drinker can stay married.
- Peter can’t read my mind.
- Sometimes I can read Peter’s mind.
- It’s never too late to start therapy, get a mental health diagnosis, take a sleep study, get a CPAP, or start medication.
- You marry into another family and that means double the fun and double the baggage.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I’m not sure if streaming services have been a good thing for our marriage or a bad thing.
- Maintaining good friends – singles, couples, our “own” separate friends has been as important for me as my marriage.
- Over-communicate not only your needs/wants but also what you love and appreciate about your spouse in ways they can understand and receive.
- I really enjoy cooking and feeding my family until about Wednesday night.
- 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.
- I still hope to grow old with Peter and be that old couple who holds hands on walks.
It seems appropriate that I share a photo of the two of us in masks. We were waiting to watch #RunMySon graduate.
Sometime ago I saw a post about how married people shouldn’t be congratulated for staying married. I tried to read it and couldn’t track with it. Perhaps it was because I have now been married for as long as I have been single, and being single between the ages of birth-22 isn’t the same as being single for those same years, nor is it legal to be married for most of the former.
I’m all for self-congratulating and celebrating every year of marriage. There is something to be said about the honeymoon period of any relationship, but in marriage the end of the greeting card images shot with a hazy filter and perfect light can be a rude awakening. It is the moment or moments when two people learn that love is a verb, a choice. Marriage is serious work in close quarters until death if I am to take my vows literally and seriously. When we hit 20 years I wrote a list of things I had learned, and I am still learning. Neither of us are dead yet.
So, here are 23 things I am still learning in no particular order. Some of them might be repeats. I don’t know. I just linked the blog post from three years ago. I didn’t re-read it. I’m too busy learning about marriage, love, and being a perfectly broken human.
- I like things my way. He likes things his way. My way is still right and better. He is still learning.
- My way isn’t always better, but when it is, and he admits it, things go a lot smoother.
- When his way is better, and I tell him so things go a lot smoother.
- I can simultaneously miss my husband and not want to go home and listen to his c-pap machine.
- Speaking of c-pap machines, love isn’t blind nor is it deaf.
- Sex with young children is tough because you are so sleep-deprived. Sex with teenagers is tough because teenagers stay up later and know things and we are still tired.
- Sometimes scheduling sex is as necessary as scheduling date nights.
- Sometimes #loveiscold, and it’s perfectly normal to do the happy dance together in the middle of the kitchen because the new refrigerator is quiet, big, cold, and clean.
- Fighting fair still eludes us.
- I can’t always read his mind, but it sure is funny when I can complete his sentences.
- I love being married to a feminist who also understands when I have had it with shoveling the snow or moving furniture.
- He is perfectly happy pointing out the large spiders for me to kill.
- The concept of generational sin becomes clearer to me the longer I am alive and the older our children and families of origin get.
- I have worn my traditional Korean dress (which I didn’t pick out nor know what it would look like until it arrived from Korea) more than I have my western white wedding dress (that I ended up choosing because it was the middle ground between what my I would wear and what my MIL and mother wanted), and my daughter most-likely will wear neither of them. I’m still figuring out how I feel about that.
- I love that no one laughs as hard at my jokes as Peter does. And I love that.
- It drives me crazy when he reads my blog posts and his first comments are about grammar or punctuation, but then I remember grammar and punctuation are love languages.
- Speaking of love languages, others include empty dishwashers, folded laundry, new running shoes, the library book sale on bag day, and encouragement to go see movies with other people who share one’s enthusiasm and fandom over such movies. And we both love high-quality pens.
- It is hard to teach an oldish dog new tricks. It also is harder to unlearn old tricks regardless of the age of said dog(s).
- Don’t judge the quality or character of your spouse’s heart based on your dating story, proposal story, etc. Creativity for a one-shot deal is great, but sustainability is another thing entirely.
- I regret how my value for frugality killed some of Peter’s attempts at loving me and made him feel foolish because I know now that sometimes lovers are stupid and foolish when in love.
- When life gives you lemons, find some other citrus and maybe some strawberries and make sangria. Lemonade isn’t going to cut it.
- Making only my side of the bed doesn’t look as weird to me as it used to.
- You can never say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you” or “I bought you some wine and dark chocolate” or “Have a great night bowling” enough.
why yes, we do appear to be floating in a dirty champagne glass lacking champagne…
Trust me. The math actually works out. Peter and I have been married for 20 years. Some lessons were easier than others. Some are still in process. Some require a lifetime. I’m grateful beyond words, but this is a blog so words are required.
Here are some lessons about myself and about life through marriage learned in no particular order.
- I can be a selfish, whiny brat. Ask Peter.
- Planning a wedding is easier than loving and honoring your spouse in sickness and till death. (And I had one heck of a wedding.)
- Seek out marriage counseling early and often.
- Make new friends as a couple.
- Make new friends as individuals.
- Fall bowling leagues actually last through spring.
- I am far too practical to enjoy romance but apparently not so practical that I can’t enjoy sparkly things.
- Subwoofer/laser disc/DVD/Blu Ray is a love language for some people.
- I thought I married a mind reader. He did, too.
- Love is a verb. It is a choice. Everyday.
- I do not like “traditional” gender roles when it comes to cooking, cleaning and child rearing.
- I like “traditional” gender roles when it comes to shoveling, mowing or cutting down large trees.
- I do not like my husband associating with men who refer to parenting their own children as “babysitting”.
- I do not like associating with women who call what the fathers of their children do as “babysitting” .
- Sometimes you have to go to bed angry with each other because it’s better to go to bed with the understanding you will talk later than to argue when tired.
- Men aren’t the only ones who enjoy sex, think about sex or initiate sex.
- You really are marrying into a family, not marrying the individual.
- Children should not be the center of your marriage.
- The Church needs to talk more about healthy friendships and marriages because the world around me is still shouting louder and more effectively.
- It never hurts to say, “Thank you” and “I love you” for no other reason than you mean it.
Happy 20th anniversary to me and Peter. I am so glad I laughed through “Wayne’s World.” I am sorry it took me so long to stay awake (and then thoroughly enjoy “The Holy Grail”). I don’t think I will ever stay awake through “The Purple Rose of Cairo.”