My husband and I are celebrating 25 years of (mostly) wedded bliss today. On July 18, 1987, I was going on 24 and he was going on 25. We were ignorant, idealistic and ridiculously romantic. A quarter of a century, we still are and I think that might be what’s kept us together.
We’ve each only been married once, to each other, which makes us (some have told me) a rare breed. (I might say “more like a piece of work). We’ve been asked (I blush every time) for the secret of our success. I always quip “we fight all the time!” That’s only partly jest. With four kids, money struggles, crazy schedules, work-a-holic tendencies, job woes, health setbacks, two lost babies, a old crumbling house, old cars (which we share) and a DIY-of-necessity lifestyle, I guess it’s to be expected. And relationships get gritty in and of themselves without any help from outside stresses.
So, yes, we bicker a lot and 99 percent of it is about idiotically trivial stuff. Sometimes, when we’re at low ebb, we even lob the D(ivorce)-word at each other. We know, even as we speak it, that we don’t mean it. We’re together for life, like sauerkraut and weiner schnitzel. 29 years ago, we established as ours, the Foreigner song “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Back then, we didn’t know what love was either. We tried, failed and finally, love found us. So divorce threats are only blunted arrows, foolishly fired and aimed to miss the mark, and we both know it.
I used to think it anathema to talk of getting divorced. (I was a good-bad, black-white kind of gal back then. I saw, but only with very narrow vision). Reality has taught me that it’s not discussing divorce that’s wrong. In fact, it’s healthy. It reminds us of how deeply we care and how much we share. Knowing we could voluntarily throw it away reminds us how destroyed each would be without the other.
A relationship rupture that’s out of our hands, like death (hard to speak of, but inevitable) is one thing. We have no control over that. A split we cause ourselves? Not going to happen, please God. Let life throw her curve balls-we’ve got each other and a Higher Power who’s a crack batter.
Why would a couple divorce after a quarto-century together? It happens, sadly, very often. We know several. Without casting judgment (or bragging about our longevity), I think long-term splits occur after the relationship gets put on hold too long. And the partner is taken for granted once too often. A relationship can stand a fair amount inner strife (we’re living proof)–it cannot stand habitual distance and detachment. Conflict is flame that ignites passion-detachment is cold that freezes and kills.
Join me, on my 25th anniversary, in celebrating all marriages and upwardly-mobile relationships. That would be the best remembrance you could give me.