Today my hubs and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage. Yes, we were embryos when we got married. Actually, he was 25 and I was 22. No, we weren’t forced to get married. We had a bit of societal pressure as we had been dating three years and most of our group was pairing off but very little to speak of. No one had started calling me an old maid yet or asking if my biological clock was ticking. No one was telling my hubs to make me an honest woman. We both just felt like it was the right time. Both of us are old souls. We graduated college and each had already buried a parent. We felt like ‘real’ adults so why not. It was the next logical step.
Ironically, not so long ago a younger friend and I were talking about marriage. Although she and her mate have been together off and on for years, they are new to marriage. They had their first knock down drag out which had her questioning everything. She marveled that people can be married for so long when she felt like things were already hitting a rough patch. I wanted to give her some advice, something profound that would let her know every relationship has its ups and downs. But, you wanta hear something funny? I had nothing, not one single, solitary thing I could give her. I told her it was an absolute miracle my hubs and I are still married. Had I married anyone else we would have probably been divorced ages ago. I told her our 21 years were a complete fluke. Oh sure, we got married because we loved each other but that love you have when you first get married morphs, changes and evolves over time. Then you add in the stress of real life – kids, job, bills, sick parents or a relocation. It really drags you and your relationship down. It’s hard to stay connected. And, while date nights and love notes in lunches are fine and dandy, you can’t convince me they are the difference between divorce court and happily ever after.
Miracle aside, I told my friend the only real quantifiable reason other than love is sheer stubbornness – a refusal to quit. I’m a pill to deal with. I’m impulsive, hyper and at the same time super type A. My hubs can be a brooding jerk. I know for a fact there have been times when both of us were ready to throw up our hands and walk away. It would have been so easy. But, both of us are stubborn. We are the never say die type. This is not to say one of us won’t file for divorce tomorrow or 5 years from now but so far our stubbornness has kept us from throwing in the towel.
Finally, I think it’s a feeling of comfort you settle into after so many years. Again, I know it could all go to hell tomorrow and one of us could leave the other for a younger model. But, there’s something to be said for knowing someone half your life. At that juncture, you have seen and done nearly everything. There’s the comfort in knowing, ‘We can handle this. We’ve tackled worse.’ You realize there’s no one you’d rather have at your side dealing with all the ups and downs of life than the other person.
I obviously didn’t write this as a pat on our backs or as a ‘look at our wonderful relationship’ thing. Marriage is weird. It can but fun but it can also be hard and gritty. It’s certainly not for everyone. I still can’t believe the hubs and I have been together as long as we have. I never thought I would get married at all with let alone this long, yet here we are. I know we proved a few friends and family members wrong. I’m glad we did. I hope me and the hubs are married another 21 years. I think it will take a little love, a little luck, a whole lot of stubbornness.
P.S. – I am not the kind of person who gushes about my spouse on the interwebs. I feel like if you have to gush all the time you’re probably at each other’s throats behind the scenes. It’s best to keep the gushing private. Today, I made an exception. My hubs also made an exception. He never reads my blog – like ever. I made him read this one.
P.P.S. – That photo is really from our wedding. Yes, we had the obligatory ring picture. It was not my idea; it was the photographer’s. I hate it.