Saturday, February 13, 2016

How We've Stayed Married 31 years, 8 months, 18 days (so far)

1982 (I think)
I remember when I got married my brother had already celebrated his 10th anniversary and I thought, “Oh my God, they are soooo old.”  And here I am heading towards a 32nd anniversary in May.  Married much longer than I lived at home.  I hope someday to look back at year 32 and think “We were only half-way there.  Such innocents!”

With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, my blog brain has been wanting to touch on ‘Secret to a happy marriage’.  Except happy is such a namby pamby word.  Secret to a long marriage?  Secret to a lasting marriage? 

First, the individuals are what make the difference.   Obviously they have to be strong, caring and respect one another.  

Second, is expectations. If we both had super high expectations, all the time, expecting perfect meals, no gray hairs, constant fun, constant loving attitudes, constant agreement, we would have given up long ago.  The two individuals have to recognize imperfections as valuable, and just, not mind.  Get over it.  In my younger years I minded a lot more that my life wasn't like the pictures in my Goodhousekeeping magazine.  Let it go.  

Third, agree to disagree. If we had to have constant agreement we wouldn’t have gotten married.  We are as different as two people can be in politics, activity level, television show selection, hobbies, you name it.  We rarely agree  and when we do we both pull our heads back and look at each other in amazement.  But we figured out long ago that it is OK to not agree on stuff.  It is ok.  My kids would tell you we argue about everything.  I’m sure life would be easier if we didn’t.  But we have learned over the years, how to not agree. 

This post could be ten times as long if I was to mention everything that makes our marriage work.  We’ve been in counseling,  done the requisite date nights, certainly have weathered ups and downs and don’t expect those to end. And though we do have fun, love each other, and I do cover my grays lol, these things aren’t the key element.

When I narrow my thinking down to the one thing I would say has kept us rolling merrily along, it is very simple: Doing something nice for your spouse when they aren’t expecting it.  Yes there are beard hairs in the sink that gross me out, yes he ate the last piece of fried chicken, yes he just made a crack about my reading too much.  But then he brings me a cup of coffee (after making it, with whole beans) without making a big deal of it, or he insists on a hug when I'm mad, or he scrapes the snow off my car in the parking lot at work and warms it up without telling me.  Maybe I take the dog out when it is his turn, or my willingness to offer to rub his shoulders, because I know they hurt, even though I still feel grumpy.   It isn’t big stuff that is the glue.  It is the simple things that make you feel worthy.  Makes you feel like this person, unlike most of the cold hard world, is looking out for you. They are looking out for you even though they don't have to.  And when they surprise you with kindness, all the crap that is in your craw evaporates, and you move on for another few days, feeling pretty good.  Those days turn into years.  Perhaps that isn’t the romantic ending you were expecting, but if you need this information, it is what I have to offer.  In my marriage, it is being surprised by kindnesses that give our relationship life.


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