By the time you read this, I will have been married 25 years. That is roughly 219,435 hours of married life. I have gotten a lot of mileage out of my marriage, by anyone’s standards. I managed to weave an entire writing career out of the adventures of Mr. Wonderful and myself.
We have had trials, tribulations and no end of “oops” moments in our marriage. Through it all we have laughed and loved and tried to see the best in things — and each other. This does not in any way, shape or form mean I think we have it all figured out. I feel like even this many years in, we are still feeling our way along. Regular readers will know that we have certainly had our moments.
An early column, “Forgiveness Costs $400,” was a definite milestone. I ranted and sassed for a week about his error in installing our swimming pool that cost $400. I was not being forgiving and certainly was not my best self. I was just so annoyed.
Then, I backed into a retaining wall and damaged our vehicle to the tune of, you guessed it, $400. He didn’t say one negative thing about it. He said only “are you okay?”
In that, I learned to be a lot more forgiving. Mistakes happen, and if most of them can be fixed for $400, you’re doing okay.
I do have one marriage mantra I live by: marriage requires falling in love many times — and always with the same person. Mr. Wonderful and I are not the same people we were 29, or 25, years ago. I thank God for that. We have grown, we have aged, we have expanded our family and our capacity for love and commitment to each other and our people.
We have also spent over 10,000 days together, so in that time, there were bound to be some disagreements. I mean, even I cannot be right all of the time. It’s pretty close though.
During these many hours I have learned that happily ever after does not mean easily ever after. Some days, the vows may feel like they should have said “I promise to love you, even when I don’t like what you are doing very much, and I swear if you leave toothpaste in the sink one more time …”
On that note, I think if I were doling out advice, I would strongly suggest you continue to use your “please,” “thank you” and polite voice on your spouse.
I recall couples who would bicker and fight bitterly in public and then speak to me or someone else in a completely different tone. With others, even near strangers, they were civil and kind. With each other, they were snarky and mean. That sets a tone, and it’s not a good one.
Also, if you are going to make your spouse famous, give them a really cool nickname. It helps soften the blow, if you’re going to share parts of your marriage publicly. Don’t choose “Mr. Wonderful” though. That one is taken.
Be supportive of your spouse’s dreams, even if only in retrospect. It is no secret that Mr. Wonderful approached me a few years ago with the idea to start a custom metal art business. Being the loving and supportive spouse that I am, I responded as you would expect.
I told him it was a terrible idea, but whatever, do go on honey. I figured it was still cheap, as most mid-life crises go, and he could do it all from the barn. Since he has become successful, I continue to tell that story to keep myself humble even as I continue to support his dream. It has become mine too.
You really can think something is a bit odd and still be there for your spouse. Sometimes, believe it or not, we can be wrong. Not often though — let’s not talk crazy.
I hold the sometimes unpopular opinion that my spouse should be my everything. Yes, I have best friends, girlfriends, my children and so many people I love. However, my number one adviser, business and life partner and supporter is my husband.
Learning. Being married comes with many lessons of life and relationships. No matter how long you’re married, you continue learning. There will be mistakes, celebrations, hard times and pure joy.
Getting married isn’t an ending where you live happily ever after; it’s a never-ending journey that you take together. Maybe the point to remember is that any marriage is work, so you may as well pick a workmate that you really and truly like.
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