I’m a child of divorce, several times over.
Well, technically twice, but since my mother and step-father split up and got back together a time or two unofficially before making it official, I think I can safely call it ‘several’.
You might say I grew up without a very positive example of what a successful marriage or relationship looked like.
You might be right (unless you count the Bradys or the Keatons, of course).
I met my husband the first week of my freshman year of college, and other than a platonic date here and there in high school (meaning two) had never before had a real boyfriend.
Frankly, the thought scared me to death.
So I came into the relationship cold; without any kind of a map that might help me navigate the path and progression it ultimately took.
That was in 1987.
26 years ago.
Yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary, so you might say I figured it out and did okay.
You might, once again, be right.
Over the past 24 years (20 married and 5 dating but let’s call it 4 since it was at least a year before I decided he was a keeper) I’ve learned a few things. Some things that, looking back — and ahead — are vitally important not only for a successful marriage, but for sanity and survival as well.
Some things that you should know right out of the gate, and some things that it can take years to figure out.
Things that it takes two people to learn and to know and to live.
Because if one is a giant ass-hat, good luck.
20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years
- Let the little things go. Seriously. Let. Them. Go.
- The most important thing you can give each other, other than a kick-ass back rub, of course, is R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And that respect you show each other? It’s also the most important thing you can give your children.
- It’s important to share and talk, but don’t forget to listen. Or act like you’re listening.
- You don’t always have to shave.
- Silence can be as comfortable as that robe you’ve also had for 20 years. A lot can be said by words unspoken.
- Telepathy is real, and as the years go on will freak you out every time it happens, which is often.
- There’s always a bigger picture. Find it.
- Candlelight and wine doesn’t stand a romance chance in hell against a man who will clean the kitchen and handle the bedtime routines while you take a bath.
- A Friday evening trip together — without kids — to Target or Home Depot can be as wonderful and relaxing as a night at a fancy restaurant.
- Staying on the same team can make all the difference in winning the game.
- If you don’t act like a maid, you won’t get treated like one.
- Gray hair is surprisingly sexy. As is no hair.
- Don’t be a bitch unless absolutely necessary.
- It’s not about fixing each other’s problems; it’s about facing them together.
- Showering together isn’t nearly as much fun as you might think and can actually cause injury (or so I’ve heard).
- The tough times, while at the time may seem unbearable, are the times that bind you even closer.
- Finding humor in the mundane and laughing together every day is the very best foreplay.
- I’m still always right, but I don’t always need to let that be known.
- Keep liking each other.
- It’s not about how much you’ve created, but about what you’ve created.
Somehow, all those years ago, some lucky stars fell my way and I found a guy who not only makes me laugh every day, but who has never, in all these years, treated me with anything other than the utmost respect and made me feel safe and loved and supported. And who gives me a kick-ass back rub anytime I ask.
And that’s helped make navigation pretty damn easy, even without the map.