“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Twenty two years ago last week I met the love of my life. I was a tipsy bridesmaid in a green satin dress. He was a cute charming guitar player in the band….This week we will be married 20 years. I look back at all our friends and some family who have been married and divorced throughout this time. I see new brides to be planning over the top expensive weddings. I see shows like “Say yes to the Dress” and “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” and wonder…how and why?! And don’t even get me started on the show “Dating Naked”. I wonder what IS the ingredient that makes a marriage work? It is a mixture of things, patience, respect, and the greatest: LOVE.
I wonder do some give up too soon? Does all the glitz and glitter of the planning part cloud their judgement? I don’t know… I don’t have the answers.
For us, we did a lot of things. We did live together before marriage (ooooh, I hear all the gasps of air as people read this)…but yes we did. Mike was 32 and I was 25. We were grown adults. We were engaged. Why have 2 rents and 2 sets of everything? It was practical and worked for us. We have fond memories of our first “home” together and call it the Love Shack. It was cheap, lackluster but filled with love and allowed us to save money to buy our first home.
We came from two different backgrounds. Mike came from a divorced home where he had to grow up fast and be the man of his family. He helped care for his sisters and mom. I grew up with married parents (still married 48 years!). We had different pictures of what married life was supposed to be like. Mike was married briefly for a couple years before…an unhealthy marriage with no children. I was not. His dad and wife got married a month after us – also married 20 years.
I believe all these differences made us who we are today. Yes, we have a good solid marriage, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of difficult times. We have gone through addiction, infertility, religious differences, adoption and reuniting with a son I had as a teenager. We vote differently, pray differently and relax differently. We have different looks on money. We have had AWESOME salaries and months of grilled cheese. Some of these things just about ripped us apart and left me wondering if we would make it. And other of those things made us happy and complete. Point is, we hung in there and didn’t give up on each other. I can see where it would have been easier to yell “it’s over – get out”, but we never did. We fought through the storms and made it to the other side stronger and more in love.
Do we argue and fight – hell yes. Do we make up and forgive and love – yes. Mike has seen me skinny, fat, happy, sad, bitchy, nice, broken, all together, fed up, you name it – he’s seen it, experienced it and still here loving me.
I believe it is hard and takes work, the work of both people. You share the load…its not always equal and fair, but it all balances out. We have learned to take time for “us” – because it was “us” first. Granted we are not always good at making time for us, but we try – even if its a quiet 1/2 hour together watching the news. Nothing glamorous. If we as a union aren’t happy and finding the time to reconnect and talk…we drift apart. That is easy to do – especially when you both work and have children. We at times tend to put ourselves as a couple last…when in fact it should be first – because we are the foundation for our family.
If I could tell couples about to get married a few things, it would be to remember the reason for the wedding – to unite a couple in matrimony…it is not about the dress, the flowers, the meal, the wine etc. In 20 years those details aren’t the things that matter the most. Don’t go to bed angry – no one sleeps well. You don’t have to be right and get the last word in (and I am guilty of this too often!). Hold hands for no reason. TALK TALK AND TALK: communication is key – mind reading does not work!! Trust me! It is ok to have a different opinion, just respect the other one. You don’t have the bigger and best of everything to be happy. Love one another, support each other, respect each other even if you see things differently – it is not a contest to be the right one (even tho it secretly may feel good)….