For the last forty-one years I have had a solid example of what makes a marriage. My parents met when they were in high school and married shortly thereafter. They were young, from a small town, and were determined to be successful regardless of the obstacles put in their path. They literally had every reason and opportunity to grow apart, but they chose to grow up together and through it all one thing has stayed constant, they are best friends. After forty-seven years they have been together longer then they were alone.
My parents have thankfully and unselfishly shared their learned wisdom. One of the most important lessons has stuck with me for many years. I vividly remember waiting to walk down the aisle on our wedding day, holding my fathers arm and fighting off the anxious feeling that was building in my chest. My dad, who was also visibly nervous, squeezed my arm and turned to look me in the eyes.
Quietly and calmly he said,
I won’t say that those words impacted me in that moment as much as they could have. It was probably the incredibly heavy tulle dress and the fake eyelash that felt as if it was trying to blind me that caused a bit of a distraction. But, 10 years later those words have resonated with me time and time again.
When I met my husband one of the things that I loved about him was our friendship. Even before we began dating we became friends and the ease of it added to the already growing attraction. I knew shortly after we began dating that he was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with and the reason for that was because I saw so much of my parent’s relationship in ours. We didn’t require a crowd to have fun; we could entertain ourselves. We not only had common interest, but we also enjoyed our differences. He’s entertained my love of old movies and I’ve learned to tolerate his favorite band, The Cult. Trust me, that’s love.
I won’t sugar coat marriage. It’s fucking work, and in all honesty, some days I like my husband more than others. I, on the other hand, am the gift that keeps on giving (If you’re reading this it means my husband didn’t read this first and delete it).
But, here’s the thing, we choose to put in the work. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. We chose to be present in our marriage and conscious of one another’s feelings and here’s our secret: We call each other on our bullshit! We are accountable for our story. And yes, we argue. We are not the text book perfect marriage. We have had some periods that could have broken us. In twelve years together a lot has changed. We’ve had children, career changes, and a move across the country.
All of these things can put stress on a relationship, but those are the times that also give you an opportunity to put your nose to the grindstone and do the work.
Now I will say these are not snap your finger revelations. We are by no means experts. However, we have found through trial and error (lots of errors) what works for us. Through it all we are still friends. I still enjoy his company, when something good or bad happens he’s the first person I want to tell, and I still work very hard at trying to make him laugh.
When all is said and done, when the children are grown and have begun their lives, my dream is to be sitting on the patio watching the sunset and holding the hand of my best friend. I also hope that I still make him laugh.