On June 22nd, 1996, John and I formally saved two other people from having to tolerate our aberrations and punning. I intended to write one of those sappy and charming, “it’s been a great ten years” posts a couple of months ago, but life got in the way. Actually, that’s not strictly true. I put it off and dithered for so long that it seemed stupid to write about it a week late. Now that I’m over two months late, I feel no such qualms. Strange how that works.
Ten years is a long time. I thought it seemed like a long time when we first got married and now I’m sure of it. A lot can happen in a year. Multiply that by ten and the list grows exponentially, it seems. During those ten years, we’ve lived in a variety of places and provinces, had a child, had four dogs and lost one, bought a house, started a garden, owned three cars, made some incredible friendships, hiked trails, fought personal, professional and financial battles of various sorts and fallen in love with each other again (and again).
This last one never ceases to surprise me. When you get married, you assume that you love the person you’re marrying more than anyone else. Sure, you do lip service to the idea of loving them more as the years pass, but when it actually happens, it surprises you. You find yourself going through the same sort of head-over-heels emotions that you did when you were first together, but you fall one level deeper and the next time, it’s deeper still.
I had a conversation recently with a friend who had just gotten married and who had seen the marriages of quite a few folks our own age dissolve. She asked how on earth John and I had made it to ten years happily when ten months was a record for certain of her friends. I’m not sure, exactly, how it is that some marriages work and others don’t, but I now know that part of the trick is in the beginning. You know that little voice in the back of your head that mutters at you when you’re doing something stupid? If that one suggests that marriage to someone isn’t such a hot idea, then don’t. The other trick, I think, is to remember that marriage isn’t a simple one-time decision. You don’t just choose once and rely on that choice; you have to keep affirming that decision throughout your life and making it over and over again. Each time you make it, it gets more solid.
Anyway, to answer my friend, who wanted to know what the “tricks” are…. well… there aren’t any, really, just some common sense guidelines:
- say “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry” without hesitation
- be polite and be nice
- remember that hurtful things can’t be unsaid, so don’t say them
- don’t take stresses to bed with you
- have fun together
- put your relationship with each other before those you have with other people
- make the same allowances for your spouse as you want made for you
- don’t expect of your spouse that which you would not do or be able to do yourself
- do nice things for each other for no good reason
- be helpful
- allow each other space and time when needed
- give back-rubs and support always
- don’t hold grudges
- really try to understand with the other is going through
- when you can’t, err on the side of sympathy and allowance
- each person negotiates with their own family
- make time for all the above
Sometimes we screw it up and sometimes things aren’t always smooth sailing, but we’ve gotten to the point now of being mutually confident that neither will abandon ship.
I realise more and more every day that I’m married to the most decent and wonderful person I’ve ever met. Anyone who can have you rolling with laughter before coffee is worth hanging onto and getting to know for fifty years or more.
I have no idea, really, what the next ten years hold, but if they’re even half as interesting as the last, they’ll be amazing.