It's bringing your spouse a cup of coffee, just the way they like it. Without asking.
My husband and I have been together for forty-four years, and married for almost thirty-nine. Shocking, I know. I see you shaking your head in disbelief. I even had to use a calculator to figure out the correct dates.
How could anyone stay with one person that long? It's impossible.
After you have lived with someone that long, you have pretty much been through everything together. Mourning the deaths of beloved parents, dear relatives and friends. Celebrating the births of healthy children (and I've never once taken that miracle for granted), teaching them to ride bikes and drive a car. Funding braces and college educations, dancing in the moonlight. Travels to exotic locations or camping in a State Park. Heart ablations, shooting a hole-in-one, tearing your ACL, the loss of a job. All of the above.
Joyous celebrations, losing irreplaceable family pets, long distance moves and graduations. Son's wedding, daughter's wedding, worrying about retirement. Yep, done that.
The soundtrack of your life plays at such a fast paced tempo, that before you can master your latest iPhone, you are in disbelief it's really been thirty-nine years. Seriously?
Getting through these often life-changing events, can't help but make you stronger and closer in your commitment to stay together. Thankfully, the sterling and gratifying times cement the notion that you are doing something right and that this whole marriage thing really is worth the effort.
However, the small, tender moments of consideration and thoughtfulness truly are the big things. They speak the words, "I love you," and "I really do care about you."
It's gladly heading out to the curb to retrieve the newspaper (hopefully double wrapped) during a thunderstorm, so your wife doesn't get soaked or electrocuted. Loading the dishwasher in the wee hours after a dinner party, detailing the car out on the driveway or building a spectacular bonfire on the patio on a cool spring night under the stars.
A good husband make a good wife.
Has it all been like Ozzie and Harriet? Hell no. Maybe more like Dick and Liz in the "Taming of the Shrew," and we'll each take turns being the shrew.
There are days I can't stand to be in the same room with him. There are days I can't stand to be on the same continent. I am quite certain he feels exactly the same way about me. Maybe worse.
No one ever said marriage is easy.
You can't expect to be with one person this long and not have some turmoil, battles and arguments. Nobody likes everyone all the time. Some days I don't even like myself.
Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.
He has this annoying habit of washing everything in the kitchen sink and it drives me totally crazy. Golf clubs, mud caked shoes and garden hoses. Yes, garden hoses. Can't you hose off a garden hose, outside? One would think. I have learned to storm out of the kitchen immediately and take deep breaths to calm myself down because I'm well aware he will never change. At least he scours out the sink afterwards and mops the poor, drenched floor.
Oprah was right. You can't change anyone, you can only change yourself. So I changed myself and chalk that up to knowing what is worth arguing about. After all, it's only a kitchen sink.
I read an article once about a woman complaining about her husband's constant snoring. He kept her up all night and she was at her wit's end. Another woman was grieving the loss of her husband. She'd give anything to be able to hear his snoring one more time.
This wise perspective has stuck with me for years. The sound of his snoring let's me know I'm thankfully, not quite a widow just yet, and have a warm, living body sleeping next to me. But I still jab him in the back with my elbow for good measure. When I snore, he gently rolls me on my right side. We know our ebbs and tides so well.
There is no such thing as a "soul-mate."
God, I hate that word. You, and only you, are responsible for your own life and happiness. No other person needs to take on this challenge but YOU. Don't blame your spouse if you are unsuccessful and miserable. On the other hand, if you choose to walk away, and your happiness depends on that, go for it. No one is stopping you, but YOU.
If you behave like partners in marriage, are kind, empathetic and listen once in while, you will find the bliss and strength that will get you through those guaranteed awful moments that no one can escape in life.
You will also have plenty of those gratifying, honorable and spirited moments that balance life out, also guaranteed.
Chains do not hold a marriage together.
It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.
I've quietly confessed to a few trustworthy friends that, had I owned a gun, I would have shot him at least a hundred times by now. Full disclosure, these friends have also felt the same way about their spouses. But, alas, no crime scene tape has been wrapped around our home. Yet. That would never happen because we despise all things "gun." A squirt gun is the only gun allowed in our home. That super soaker is used to shoot water at the squirrels that jump eight feet into our bird feeders. Not husbands.
But at the end of the day, there is no one else I'd rather spend my life with. No one else that doesn't complain when I back my car into the side of the garage. No one else that makes better coffee. No one else that cries during multiple viewings of "Out of Africa." No one else that loves our children and their spouses with such great pride and admiration. No one else that rubs my back when I can't sleep. No one else that loves listening to the Moody Blues for hours on end. No one else that sat worrying in the waiting room while I had a diagnostic mammogram and ultra-sound. No one else that's capable of putting up a more magnificent Christmas tree. Or has a smile that begins in his eyes and ends and his fingertips.
There is no need to talk about our "feelings" or prove anything anymore. We are way past that due date.
Love is shown in the simple, kind gestures of an ordinary life. That's what makes it so extraordinary.
And that, my friend, is the secret to a successful, long term marriage.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.