My Dear Readers,
I know you have been waiting a year for my new list. I toyed with the idea of simply adding #25 to last year’s list of 24 things I’ve learned during 24 years of marriage, but I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t look at last year’s list. I’m just sitting here across the desk from my groom (Bahahahahahaha! No, I don’t ever call him that. He was my groom 25 years ago. Today he is my husband, spouse, +1. We put a ring on it so no more bride and groom unless we are referring to the Church and Jesus or we are around white Christians.)
Peter and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage with a day off. We might even go buy some towels because we still have towels from our wedding shower. They are thinner, unlike the two of us, but just like us they have absorbed so much in the past 25 years. We also took a cooking class together on Sunday where he learned to separate a yolk from the egg white and practice/learn knife skills. I learned you don’t always have to stir the pot because sometimes too much stirring ends up steaming the food instead of browning it. That is definitely something I need to do some more thinking about…
We met in November 1992. We got engaged on December 26, 1992 with about 100 friends and family exchanging gifts in the Korean tradition. We then got married in front of a gathering 10x that size. From the time we met to the time we were married was just over six months. I’ve learned so much.
- Sometimes you have to go to bed angry because you have to go to bed and go to work the next day.
- Commitment is a lot harder when neither of you are changing in the same way at the same time.
- It’s easy to criticize the parents-in-law when neither of you are a parent-in-law.
- You learn a lot about yourself and about your spouse when you take on DIY home improvements.
- Our taste buds change as we get older, and for us that has meant he has always liked beer and I now like red wine, bourbon and whiskey.
- Our sex drives change as we get older. I’m premenopausal and have barely any sex drive. He is not premenopausal.
- Despite changing sex drives, the most difficult thing about having sex is working around the schedule of teenage children. They stay up so late!
- Your spouse doesn’t have to be your best friend. If your spouse is your best friend, lucky you. I mean that. But that won’t make or break your marriage.
- Try to find things you enjoy together and bless the differences. I just don’t see the point in paying to run, but I make awesome signs and ring a mad cowbell. I also don’t see why you need multiple bowling balls but he also doesn’t share my desire to overcome my fear of being upside down and learning to handstand. Mutual respect.
- Even after 25 years we can’t read each other’s minds. Instead, we try to practice over- communication: I dramatically unplug the little fragrance things in his car vents because they give me a headache.
- Work on your own shit. Seriously. Marriage won’t fix you, and you can’t fix someone else.
- Sometimes I actually can read his mind. It freaks him out every time, and I revel in it.
- Be playful. A friend gifted me a life-size Rose Tico cut out and I put her by the kitchen light switch in hopes it would scare the bejesus out of Peter. It did. For several days. This morning I came down and he moved Rose, but it did not scare me. I’m moving her tonight. He is going to pee in his pants!
- Maintain your friendships. My best friend from college and I used to joke that we would outlive our husbands and move into a retirement community together like a Korean American Golden Girls. We are serious. I love Peter but it is special to have friends I’ve known longer than Peter and I have been married.
- Maintain good couple friendships. We are truly blessed to have neighborhood friends where the husbands genuinely like each other and no longer need the wives to set up daddy playdates. We also learned that none of our husbands went to prom and all of the women did so there’s that.
- If you’re the praying type pray for each other. I grew up in a culture that encouraged singles to pray for their future spouses with little instruction on how prayer would change, let alone last 25 years. Yes, there can be things you are praying about for 25 years and celebrating answers to prayers of 25 years!
- If you have children and are hoping things will get easier in marriage as the children get older or, in our case, start leaving the nest. The problems you don’t address in your marriage don’t leave with your children. They stay. Across the table at breakfast or dinner when it’s just the two of you.
- Have each other’s back and dreams. He wanted to run a half marathon, and then a couple more, and then a marathon, and now maybe back to a 10k. YES! Run! Stay healthy because I selfishly don’t want to be a widow. Me? I want to write and speak at events across the country AND go prepare for my midlife crisis by wanting to get certified as a yoga teacher. He says, YES! buys me coconut water so I stay hydrated during training at a hot yoga studio, rubs my feet after I get home from the airport with puffy feet.
- There is no perfect marriage. Even the bible is lacking in perfect examples. So don’t beat yourself over the head if you don’t cook meals together. We have done just fine with divide and conquer. I cook. He cleans. I wash. He folds and irons. He puts away the towels, I rearrange them the right way.
- Buy a king-size bed as soon as you can afford to or have space for.
- If your spouse tells you that you snore, you snore. Get checked for sleep apnea because snoring can be a strain on your marriage and on your heart.
- Just like with anything, learn to ask for help – help from each other or for your marriage.
- Look into each other’s eyes and tell each other, “I love you.” Emojis and texts are cute. Handwritten notes are lovely, even with horrible handwriting (his). Eye contact is severely underrated.
- Learn to apologize.
- Love is a verb. (It’s also a four-letter word in the very best way.)
Happy anniversary to us. Peter, I love you. Here’s to the next 25.
————————————— This is us on our 24th anniversary, celebrating Corban’s senior night for gymnastics.
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!
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…