I am with my hubs 24/7. We work together in the small business we own. I handle office matters and accounting and he handles everything else.
Admittedly, it is trying being with this man all of the time and when I meet couples who have endured through the years, for much longer than our mere eighteen years, I am compelled to ask this burning question in my mind.
How do you do it? What’s the secret to a lasting marriage?
Last Saturday I awoke to bright, glaring sunlight as our cat pounced upon my foot above the covers. Our bedroom, and entire house, looked like a hurricane had blown through it. Normally this brings me anxiety and frustration. I am a creature that thrives on order and routine, but I am learning to live through the chaos of my life; to be present in the moment.
I recently was reminded of this after learning of two people’s passing. A seventeen year old girl, who had performed with her high school band at Grand Nationals in Indianapolis as a vocalist and flutist, had been instrumental in placing their band in the top ten in finals. Upon driving home that night, the car she had been in was struck. She, her father and grandmother were killed. This band program had experienced both its highest and lowest point, in the same evening.
During a district showcase event, featuring our local band programs, we learned of the loss of a staff member’s infant child at full-term. Upon our flight’s return from Indianapolis our family of five had run into this family at a local restaurant. They had beamed in happiness as they excitedly looked forward to the addition of this child. We quietly absorbed the news in the high school stadium, saddened by this loss.
Life is short.
This past Saturday morning was the first, in several months, where none of us needed to be somewhere. I imagined myself lazily rousing, just as our sixth grader came bounding into the bedroom in search of the cat. He had returned from a week- long science camp, immediately following our travel from Indianapolis. The hubs and eldest son had fallen asleep downstairs, watching movies late into the night. So much for a leisurely awakening.
Within an hour, all of my sons had made their way into our bedroom; strewn across our bed. The dog and cat hairs clung to their pajama bottoms as the dog excitedly barked and the cat demurely purred. Suitcases and blankets were pushed aside as my teens offered their own backs to be scratched and the tween found room in-between.
My mind flashed back to these boys as infants longing to be underneath our covers; jockeying for space on our queen sized bed. It is now I who fights to find room, these sons now taking up most of the space. When the hubs joined in, we were crammed; all of my boys somehow laying atop one another.
It goes by in a blink. I no longer take them for granted. I cherish each one of them for who they are.
But in all this, it is the hubs that gets lost in the chaos. Of all my family members, he is the one most taken for granted. Most of this fall season I have busily coordinated our schedules, accounted for numbers for work and made sure we met our obligations to be where we’ve needed to be. It is rare that I am being with he; the one who started this all.
I sat in bleachers in another stadium. Whenever I meet a couple, my other most pressing question is how and when they’ve met; particularly those who have endured the years and have been married longer than ourselves. This woman shared how she had met her husband of thirty-two years and I pointed out to her my other half, sitting in a far corner in disheveled and unmatched camouflage-wear. We grinned at one another in understanding.
We appreciate our spouses when we step out of our normal routines and see them as others do.
It’s easy to get distracted and derailed with details and detritus. The work-a-holic who bends over backwards to make another customer happy with an unreasonable timeline. The man who doesn’t bother with clothes or appearance and comes just as he is. The father who sometimes forgets to check his sailor mouth from his days as a naval aviator, with his kids. This man of spontaneity and my complete opposite in more ways than one.
I type this from my happy place.
I had been shocked when the hubs saw the fall savings email and urged me to book an overnight stay at our beloved winery. Financially we are recovering from our recent travel, as well as large material purchases for the business. I was anxious about leaving our sons at home, even overnight. Our home was a mess and there was plenty to do to prepare for Thanksgiving and the holidays.
I’ve learned that more is not better. That living with less makes life simpler and more clear. That all these things to do, can wait.
The hubs and I walked across the road to honor the girlfriend who passed this last May at her preferred winery. It is one of my favorite memories with her and another dear friend, as we headed to a book signing in San Diego.
I passed on the extra glass of wine, only choosing quality versus the excess quantity. I watched as people stumbled around me and spoke in too loud voices in the wine tasting room. I could taste the tannins on my tongue, smell the bouquet of flavors and appreciate the time and patience required to ferment grapes into an award winning wine. As I sipped, I thought of the various answers I’ve received, over the years…
- from the couple who sits behind our pew each Sunday… they’ve made it over sixty years because they give one another space. He reads the paper in one room, she watches novellas in the other. They appreciate one another’s diverse interests and do their own thing.
- from my in-laws who just celebrated fifty years this July…who’ve made it because they never go to bed angry and are together 24/7. They’ve weathered storms, since their teens, together against all odds and spent twenty five years creating the business we have inherited. Currently they enjoy their years of retirement side-by-side on slot machines.
- from the woman in the stadium…they’ve made it because they separated home from work and independently pursued what was important to each of them. We had laughed out loud as she referred to her husband in third person…a separate entity from the one she usually deals with, in the first (person). In watching him work she remembered the man she had fallen in love with.
And so I watched my own hubs in the third person; trying it on for size.
Instead of grimacing when he changed our schedule to stay late to appease, yet another customer, I saw the man who selflessly gives of his time. He is the reason why our customers return.
I ignored the mess of our home; pushing aside clothes strewn on couches to sit and watch movies in a spontaneous movie marathon with our boys. This is my hubs’ favorite pastime as I flit around picking up around them. I decided to just sit with them instead.
I thought of my book club girlfriends who refer to my husband as, “the good guy” and tried to see the man they see…the one who teaches our boys how to build campfires, creates chef quality meals, assists them with trig/calc/physics/all things technological and being an all around “good guy.”
We stepped out of our normal routines, leaving our three sons (with grandma nearby) and even taking a day off work, to decompress after this whirlwind of a year. All things work related, financial and school remained at home. We sat among the vineyards, he with an electronic book; myself with my son’s laptop typing words.
Life is short and I would not want it to end without this man knowing the depth of love and gratitude for what we have (the good and the bad). For years I’ve considered him my parenting partner or my “evil” work boss.
I had forgotten the love that began it all and the ties that bound us together. We are quite different in many ways but in things that matter, our beliefs are the same. I considered all the answers people have shared over the years, finding my own on how our marriage will endure.
Marriage is like a fine wine requiring lots of attention and endless amounts of patience.
I may not always be in love with my life. But I’m thankful to be here to live it. It’s tough to always do what you love and love what you do...but I’ll spend the rest of my time trying, with this guy, ’til death do us part.
My heart is joyful as the holiday season comes upon us. It isn’t about the material things and gifts. In my marriage, my presence is the only present I have to give.
This Thanksgiving be grateful. Cheers!