(Read about our love story here)
Okay, I'm giggling at myself a little--or maybe I'm giggling about people who post chirpy-happy sentences like that on Facebook, or the like. Maybe some people have experienced 21 entire years of bliss...but, honestly, I think those people may need to lay off the Zoloft a bit.
Because, although Dave and I have made it 21 years, I wouldn't necessarily sum it all up as "bliss."
In fact, I'd rather NOT sum it up in one word--because it's been A LOT of words, and some of them I shouldn't say on a family-friendly blog, if ya know what I mean.
Oh, don't get me wrong. We've had lots of good times. But, we've also had lots of not-so-good times.
I can remember when we first got married, I always told people that my favorite thing about being married--was that we got to go home together after a date!
The main difference between that starry-eyed 21-year-old newlywed and now, is that I'm more realistic about my expectations. Marriage is hard work--much harder than that newlywed girl expected. I've learned that marriage isn't about the fairytale, it's more a rambling story with twists and turns of a good partnership that is both messy and complicated. Sometimes I'm walking on the opposite side of the road as my partner, and pretending I can't hear him, and sometimes it's side-by-side carving a path through the woods.
I've learned a few tricks along the way that I wish that newlywed girl could have known back then. But, how could she have? She had to walk the twisty path beside that man in order to learn them. They had to kick up a little dust to learn those tricks... This dusty-legged ole gal now knows which words will strike up a good fight--and avoids those words. Well, usually. I've learned that I know how he will react to something even before I say it. And sometimes I get mad at him in my brain--even if I don't say the thing--but just knowing how he would react if I did. (Poor Dave, he can't win). I've learned that there's no sense in getting my feelings hurt--because no matter how different I get my hair cut or colored--he will NOT notice. Oh, but if I put on a new shirt, dangit, he busts me EVERY single time, "Is that new? Did you buy it?" (Yeah, who's saying "Poor Dave" NOW? How about Poor Mary Kay?!!)
It used to make me giggle every time a preacher talked about marriage within the context of the verse in Ephesians:
Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)
God wants the man to LOVE his wife--as MUCH as he loves HIMSELF...but the wife only has to "see to it" that she respects her husband. The newlywed Mary Kay giggled that God didn't expect love from a wife--only respect. The Mary Kay that has traveled the twisty marriage path realizes that respect for a husband is HUGE in a marriage. Huge. The more true respect I show that fella, the more he seems to fall in love with me. Umm, and I call that a BONUS.
Now, I can respect that man all the live long day, but he is STILL not going to notice a new haircut, and he still is not going to surprise me with a sparkly piece of jewelry or a new car under the Christmas tree. And now matter how much I can wish it into being--he still cannot read my mind. If I want him to treat me a certain way, or if I want a special gift on my birthday, I have to, you know, TELL HIM.
If you asked me what is the BIGGEST THING I've learned from being married to the same man for 21 years, I would tell you what I told a dear friend just the other day... I told her that I spent the first 10 years of my marriage begging God to change Dave. After that, I got desperate. I started begging God to CHANGE ME. Change ME into the kind of wife that fits with Dave.
And God has. And He still does, every single day.
Some days the marriage journey feels rocky and tiring and frustrating, and I want to give up. Some days I want to kill him. Or hire a hit man. (You think I'm kidding.) And other days he makes me laugh and laugh. Some days he brings me ice cream and I want to kiss him on the lips. Some days I forget to take my Zoloft and I act so ugly towards him I'm embarrassed. And, yet, he sticks with me. Through the thick and the thin, the richer and the poorer, the sickness and the health.
That's what we do: We stick together. We're riding this one out to the finish.
How about you? What tricks have you learned along the way that help you stick together?