Kevin and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary in May.
We didn’t do anything spectacular, we went out to dinner at Outback.
We’ve actually been together for longer than 10,585 days – we were together two years before getting married.
We were one of those couples that traditionalist turned their noses up at – we lived together for two years before getting married.
I don’t know, it just felt right at the time. You don’t truly know someone until you live with them. You can only be on your best behavior for so long when you live with someone and until the facade wears thing.
I figured, if Kevin could put with me at my worst, then we should be okay.
(Side note: I will encourage our boys to live with their future spouses, too. But put a timer on it – if something is not happening, or it’s not working out after a year, go your separate ways. No sense in wasting years with someone who doesn’t want to commit, you know?)
I will be the first to admit, I have not been the easiest person to be married to. I had sort of a mid-thirties crisis where I was just a bitch to be around. No sense in sugar coating it, it’s the truth. I don’t know, I was trying to find myself, I guess. I was a wife, a mother … I lost Karen in there somewhere. It didn’t help that Kevin tried to make me into something he wanted, or thought he wanted. He thought I should have been more like his mom, which I suppose is pretty typical for men. I wonder if our boys will try and find someone like me.
Gah, I hope not.
My brother told me once that his wife reminded him a lot of me. I guess I’m just that awesome. ha!
At any rate, I don’t know why Kevin stuck around, but I’m so glad he did. Our relationship was really tested about seven years into our marriage. A seven-year itch, I suppose. We almost split up and probably should have seen a marriage counselor but I’m going to be honest here, (actually, when am I not), the thought of spilling our guts to a third party who may, or may not, have our best interests at heart did not appeal to me AT ALL. I figured, we were two intelligent adults, surely we could work this out. It was hard, and there was a lot of very truthful, uncomfortable, conversations, but we muddled through and we’re stronger for it now.
Marriage is tough. You have to be willing to take a good, long, hard look at yourself and be willing to admit when you’re wrong and when you can do better.
And then do better.
Believe it or not, reading Dr. Laura’s “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” really, REALLY helped me. It taught me to think outside myself. I’m a sympathetic/empathetic person, but since we’re keeping it real here, I’m a selfish person, too. I don’t like sharing my time. When I want to do something, I expect you to want to do the same thing RIGHT THEN. And I have a problem giving in and doing something when someone wants to do something that I don’t.
I still struggle with that. For example: Kevin knows to not rush me. He just goes off and does something else and patiently waits for me to be ready to go wherever we’re going. But when I’m ready to go, I’m READY TO GO and get quite impatient with Kevin when he doesn’t drop what he’s doing to be ready when I’m ready.
I realize this is a selfish attitude and I’m working on it. I didn’t even realize what I was doing until Kevin pointed it out to me. (You have to learn to take criticism – YOU MUST LEARN).
This book taught me to respect Kevin, our relationship and myself by making sacrifices. This is an especially hard concept nowadays because we live in a “me” and “instant gratification” society, but if you want a relationship to work, you have to be willing to compromise and sacrifice. Period.
Another thing that helped me see our relationship in a new light was the different love languages. This book taught me about how people perceive love, or more specifically, how Kevin and I perceived love. Love is about so much more than just saying the words I love you. The five love languages are:
- Quality time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Receiving gifts
- Physical touch
For me, I feel most loved with acts of service. I truly know Kevin loves me because he is always so willing to drop what he’s doing and help me with something. My computer poops out, he comes over to fix it. Something goes wrong with the house, that is his number one project. He makes sure our lawn is mowed. That we are financially comfortable. He makes life easier for me. Because if life is easier, then I’m happier, and as a result, he’s happier.
I feel like Kevin’s love language is quality time. He likes doing things together – taking pictures, going for walks/bike rides, going on vacations together. But remember my problem with being selfish with my time? Yeah, that is something I’ve had to, and continue to, work on. Physical touch is another one of his love languages though I feel like that is a given for men. ha! But honestly, that is another area of marriage that takes a lot of work, compromise and understanding. TRUST ME.
Another thing that I did that helped me with our marriage was the Love Dare.
This “dare” fascinated me so much that I actually participated in the love dare and documented the whole process. I, yet again, faced a lot of ugly truths about myself doing this challenge, but I learned so much about myself, and our relationship, in the process that it was, well the humble medicine I was forced to swallow.
Is our marriage perfect? Of course not. No marriage is perfect because the participants aren’t perfect. But making an effort to learn more about how to make a relationship work did nothing but help us in the long run.
We are planning a cruise to the Mediterranean for our 30th wedding anniversary next year. Thirty years sounds like a big number and though it does feel like we’re always been married, it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s been nearly 30 years. In a lot of ways, I feel like our marriage is just getting started.
Here’s to another 30 years of adventures!