So this is 20…

I had no intention of writing anything today.  But sometimes things just mysteriously come together.

I’ve been married for 20 years today. 20 years.  2 decades.  My husband said, “Wow. 240 months. 20 Christmases. 20 Thanksgivings.”  Sometimes it feels like 5 years and other times it feels like 30.  Such is the nature of marriage and of time.

I once told my parents (after much self-examination) that I was just not “marriage material”.  I was 21.  I didn’t want to get married. Ever.  I was not the marrying type.  I just did not feel like ‘that‘ type of girl.  The permanency scared me.  The necessary compromising offended me.  The lack of control over who the other person becomes and who you yourself may become sickened me. It just seemed like a real stupid risk.  Unfortunately, I announced this to my parents on a morning that they were rushing out to a breakfast and they wouldn’t even let me come with them.  I felt abandoned.  Unbeknownst to me, they were having breakfast with my boyfriend who was on a mission to ‘ask for my hand’ and ‘get their blessing’.

They said, “No.”

HAHAHAHA!  Have you ever heard of that happening in real life?  Me neither.  They said, “No” to my earnest, optimistic, 22 year old boyfriend.  They thought we were too young.  (we were) They thought we were not ready.  (we weren’t) They thought their daughter was at home in a pool of her own tears and wallowing in some self made melodrama about how she was not a marrying type of girl. (I was) Some months passed.  There was a lot of crying.  blah. blah. blah.

My husband persevered.  He is very tenacious. We got engaged. We got married.


pictured above (clueless people with immature pre-frontal cortexes)

I can boil it down to 2 simple reasons why I married him.

The man never gives up on becoming better.  He is relentless.  I knew that he would never give up on me, on us, on himself. I thought that would prove to be a useful and necessary trait if you were going to put up with the likes of me.  I think it is still a valuable quality to have.  It has served our family well.

The other reason is a two-word comment he made in the car to me when we were dating.  We were talking about something (nothing of note) and he locked eyes with me and smiled and said, “Cute brain.”

I had never had anyone say anything so amazing to me before those two words or ever since. Cute brain.  It struck a chord in me and has stayed with me.  That guy knows how to close the deal.

He just gets me.

For the sake of transparency, I would like to say-It hasn’t been a perfect 20 years.  Far from it.  We have had our challenges.  We have made some colossal mistakes. We have had our disagreements.  If we had followed the asinine “don’t go to bed angry” advice, we would both have died from insomnia in 2004. Goodness, that was a bad year. The beauty of staying together is that we made it past 2004.  It’s far in the rear view mirror now and that is a blessing.

The traditional 20 year gift is China and the modern 20 year gift is Platinum.  Please no.  First, if one more dish makes its way into this house my husband will go insane in the 21st year of marriage.

A platinum something? Nope.  No platinum knick knacks shall enter into this house.  No more objet of any kind.  Nothing on a shelf. Clutter kills.

We have had some memorable and disastrous gift exchanges over the years. One of the first years we were married he gave me a gift that he wrapped up inside a box for an Oster blender.

The problem is, it was an actual blender.

It was Christmas and I kept repeating, “Oh. It is a blender. An actual blender.  You gave me a blender. Blender. You thought of me and you thought ‘b l e n d e r”.  It was an awkward moment for the rest of the family. He said (bewildered) “But you SAID you wanted a blender someday.”   I did say that.  Aaaand that is the last appliance I ever received as a gift.

One year we just blindly gave the other what we like.  He prefers experiences.  I prefer something to mark the occasion that I can hold on to, pass down, potentially store in the basement for all eternity.  I gave him a book.  He doesn’t care for books. He gave me tickets to a concert.  I can’t remember what concert.   We both opened our gifts and felt, “meh”-we should have swapped them.

We had talked about going to see the jeweler that made our wedding rings.  He is a darling semi-retired man with a tiny office in the Medical Arts Building in downtown Minneapolis.  We talked about picking out an anniversary band to mark 20 years.  I like this idea.  It marks the occasion.  I can pass it on to my children.  It has symbolic meaning.

Today I got a voicemail from my husband.  This is what prompted me to write this all down. The voicemail was in the middle of the day while he drove four hours roundtrip for a meeting.  He said, “….Also, I think we should go meet with the jeweler.  I’m kind of waiting on you to tell me when you are free to go…Also, I was thinking..not sure…maybe it’s dorky or dumb but…What about a new front door?  It might be kind of dumb. I just know it’s something you talked about and it would kind of be fun down the road to you know…say we put that in for our 20 year anniversary.   I know it’s just one step away from something to plug into the wall but…let me know.”

I welled up.  Real heartfelt tears.  See…I hate my front door.  I would love a new front door.  YES.   I’m in love with this idea. It is symbolic.  It will last.  We are here to stay.  We are only just 20 years into building something to last.

He just gets me.  That is the best gift of all.

The Honeymoon is SO SO over

In the space of 90 days we have ended up getting invited to two weddings. Two lovely young women who used to babysit our children are getting married in the space of 90 days. Married. Grown ups get married.

How did this happen so quickly? Wasn’t this just me?  They were just girls…girls who cooked noodles for my kids and then studied Chemistry after the kids went to bed. (unlike when I babysat and cooked noodles for the kids and then ate 3 bags of chips and watched MTV for 6 hours after the kids went to bed)

It’s so exciting and fun to be around them. It brings you right back to being in that stage and slaps you in the face because you aren’t that age now.  When you are in your 40’s it seems there is a bit of a dry spell when it comes to weddings other than an occasional 2nd wedding.  And so I find myself in a new era of the whole wedding thing. The basics of engagements, ring flaunting, showers, nationwide hunts for dresses, registries, guest list drama, etc. remain. And there is so much ahead for them. The reward for getting down the aisle and through the hoopla is to get to the fun ahead…twists and turns and piercing joy and breathtaking surprises.

However, it is not all roses.

I was at a bridal shower recently. It was so beautiful. The bride was happy and calm. Her family was lovely and thrilled. The hostesses were gracious and organized and welcoming. The gifts were plentiful and shiny and fresh. The things couples register for now are both amazingly sensible and snort worthy hilarious. Example: Shop vac (YES-you will need that-you should register for 3) and Bath Sheet: $80. That is a towel that costs $80. One towel. Only kings and queens should have bath towels that cost that much and only because they are drying off royal butts.

And while I am so very happy for these beautiful, educated, accomplished women…and I admit to being so charmed by the raw cuteness and puppy like excitement gazing into the eyes of their prospective spouse…I am definitely relieved to not be in their shoes (albeit some darling shoes!).

I imagine they may feel they have finally gotten to the on ramp of their real life. Their first true adventure…I remember feeling that way. But now I know better. I know they haven’t really even gotten out of the über ride to the terminal…not even close.

Even in youth you have a vague idea about how marriage might be “work”.  It is a cliché often repeated. We will work on it. Put effort into it. We will compromise. It goes something like this-He likes to go golfing for 8 hours at a crack and I don’t like it. I won’t allow it. I will change him. Or, she cannot spend $35 on Tupperware glasses that we don’t even need. I won’t allow it. I will change her. (these happen to be real world examples from yours truly) Update: Rounds and rounds and rounds of golf happened and I bought the Tupperware. See below.  Aren’t they incredible???  At this point I’m keeping them around to spite him.


But the ‘work’ isn’t just the two people and the micro compromises. It’s not the rambler vs. two-story debates. It’s not the “I wanted to go out for Italian food but you always prefer Indian food” arguments.  It’s the overwhelming everything each person brings to the equation. And you don’t sign up for a lifetime with one person. Bonus: You get their entire extended family as a package deal and they get yours. And everyone has some crazy in the family…I mean crazy and I mean that bench runs DEEP. And the players on the crazy roster are ever-changing …and that can be very challenging.

Note: If it isn’t challenging now…at some point it probably will be.

And then the life happens. And you can talk about all the big things but you don’t know how the other person will react when all that happens. And you really don’t even know how you will react when all that happens.

The painstaking work is facing (together) all the best laid plans that fall apart, the disappointments, the mistakes, the unexpected river of crap that flows your way, the friends, the heart wrenching marriages of others, the heart wrenching divorces of others, the layoffs, the stress, the changing of both of you, the minute gains and catastrophic losses, the illnesses, the prolonged illnesses, the deaths.

Uh…this may be why I have not been hired to write engagement card content for Hallmark.

So, I was just thinking how nice it is to be further down the road. It’s a relief. I know a little more about how my spouse works and I know a little more about how I work. And I know volumes more about how we work together and we aren’t even done yet. We enjoy the stretches of contentment more than we did before.  We appreciate them.  I am happy for these young ones and I am saying prayers for them and crossing my fingers and wishing them well…because marriage is not for cowards.

P.S. If you have been married (for longer than…mmm…8 years) and it has been all happiness and rainbows and marriage has been one giant, fabulous Pinterest worthy experience…please get in touch with me. I’d like to hear your story. I assume you will be placing a collect call since you are in some sort of high security mental facility…totally fine. I’ll pay for the call.