Saturday night I fell asleep in the middle of a very romantic novel. The next morning, I woke up blowing my nose so hard I was seeing stars. A cold is no small thing. What starts as a simple sneeze can take out an entire workplace. Believe me, cold germs spread farther and faster than a McDonald’s app.
By Sunday morning, I was at day seven of feeling terrible. The irony of getting these germs from my husband on the week of our anniversary was not making me feel better. Until the door opened, and he appeared at my bedside with coffee in a mug that read “You Are Seriously Awesome”. I smiled and thanked him, then realized a tissue was hanging from each of my nostrils.
Yes, colds don’t get the credit they deserve, but neither does love. Because when someone who likes to see you in the shower smiles at the sight of THAT—they are in it for the marathon
He asked if he could get me anything else, then reminded me we had reservations the next night at our favorite restaurant. “Get better,” he said softly and made a quick exit. And that is what real love is about.
Love starts with sparks, smiles and “I just can’t get enough of you”. You laugh at everything he says, and he can’t imagine doing anything without you. Then you notice you don’t need him for everything and he realizes yours isn’t the only opinion that matters.
Your perfect day would end with a long, hot bath. His perfect day would end by sleeping outdoors. One minute you look at him and think you’re the luckiest woman in the world and the next you’re looking for a baseball bat.
With so many differences, you wonder why you’re together- but not really. Because through six moves, 14 pets, hundreds of sick days, tons of vacations and more arguments than I care to remember, I would still choose him.
He has made me laugh and cry more than any person I have ever known and at some point, it finally occurred to me the goal was not changing him, but changing the way we lived together.
We both love to garden, but our approaches are very different. His garden is balanced and manicured, while mine is wild and free. We learned to embrace both and take turns being in charge.
Some months he oversees everything outside and others he pours his creativity into his shop, while I allow things to grow or die as I see fit. Some days I pretend to like shopping at Lowe’s, just to spend time with him, and other days he watches “Elf” for the 400th time. Mike’s most-given advice is this one:
Marriage is never 50/ 50, but it should average out that way.
On any given day, one of you will always be doing more than the other.
My great-grandparents were migrant farmers. When my grandmother was a child, they moved from Alabama to west Texas, with all their belongings (including the dining room table) strapped to a wagon. Though its chairs and leaves were stored in a barn, my grandmother used the table throughout my childhood. The meals we ate at that table were colored by stories of farm life, the workers she and her sisters fed at that table and the cuts and marks on it from years of paring and peeling fruit.
After my grandmother died, my parents packed the table and all its leaves and chairs onto a trailer and brought it to me. It was my dream to have that table, with all its stories of my grandmothers, but Mike did not share that dream.
After days of explaining to me the poor condition of a table that had spent 30 of its 85 years in a barn. I resigned myself to the fact that my grandmother’s table would spend the rest of its life in our garage.
Then one day I came home from work and saw him taking it apart. For weeks he sanded and refinished the table. He rebuilt the warped leaves and painted and replaced the seats in all of the chairs. It is still a thing of beauty, after 20 more years of kids, pets, homework, craft projects and every meal we eat.
One person is always doing more than their share, but if you’re doing it right, it’s not always the same person.
By Monday night my hacking and blowing had subsided and we claimed our table at the steakhouse. Marco brought us a gin and tonic and a very nice glass of wine and asked how many years we had been married. When we told him, he smiled.
He told us that in his career he’d met lots of couples celebrating anniversaries and had learned to guess how long they had been married by their behavior.
Those married ten years or less seemed to be more interested in their food, their phones and their surroundings than each other. Those celebrating more than ten years were the ones you had to interrupt when you were serving their food or checking on them.
“Why do you think that is?”, I asked him, then quickly added, “Wait, are you even married?”
“Oh, yes,” Marco said, “17 years now.”
“And I’ll tell you why I think the intimacy is greater years later. Because there is no pretense.”
“Everything you learn about each other becomes important, because you are invested in this person.”
“It’s no longer a competition,” I added, thinking of all the years we waste trying to outdo one another.
“Yes,” Marco said, “You are building something together.”
“Some people put more time into planning their wedding than their life together”, he told us.
After our second dessert, Mike gave Marco his phone and asked if he would take our picture. When he returned it, I noticed the time. It had been three hours and I hadn’t coughed once. We had eaten too much; drank just enough and, most importantly, were interrupted several times. In 36 anniversaries, we may have had worse. But I’m sure we’ haven’t had better.