Wednesday, May 11, 2016

14 Years: 14 Things We Do Right

The last year of our marriage, my husband and I have been through a lot. We left our beloved church, said goodbye to two dear friends, and went through the loss of my father. In addition, my husband’s job took a turn that left him miserable. It’s easy during years like this when we’re dealing with so much emotion and disappointment to pick away at the scabs of a long(ish) marriage. It’s easy to focus on the things about your spouse that drive you crazy or make you angry. It’s easy to pull away in pain, distrust, or frustration. In short, it’s easy to see the places where that marriage quilt might start to unravel.

But in the last year, our fourteenth together, we’ve learned just how much we need each other in order to face the world and be our highest self. We’ve pulled together in sweet ways and learned how to express what we’re feeling even when it’s humiliating or confusing.
After 14 years, I could write many lists. For instance, a list of “14 things about my husband that drives me abso-flippin-bananas,” or “14 things I wish he’d never do again, ever,” or “14 reasons I’m a really bad wife,” or “14 marriage fears in order of likelihood of happening.” It’s easy. All married couples could write them. But In a day when the average American marriage lasts just eight years (!), it's important to celebrate what makes our marriage strong, even while working on what makes us individually weak. So, today I’m going to celebrate my mate with a list of 14 things we do right as a couple.
May 11, 2002
1. We defend each other. I’m kind of surprised at how often we’ve had to do this in the last 14 years, but it’s comforting to know that when push comes to shove, we know we have each other’s backs. We’ve defended each other to family, in grocery stores, and we’ve even done it in church board meetings.
2. We thank each other. This is so simple, and sometimes it feels ridiculous, but it’s amazing what a difference a simple “thank you” makes. I estimate I’ve done 2,184 loads of laundry in the years we’ve been married. I do it because it needs to be done without expecting a thank you, but every now and then my husband will say, “Thanks for washing my clothes.” Boy does that put a girl over the moon.

engagement, 2001
3. We say “I love you” all. the. time. I could write a whole post on the many ways we tell each other “I love you.” But it never gets old.
4. We foster playful attitudes. This might be the most important thing we do on a day-to-day basis to keep the equilibrium in our marriage. We live to make each other laugh. We goof off a lot. Then we take pictures.
5. We spend a lot of time together. When I say a lot of time, I mean like all the time we aren’t working. As the years go on, I realize I need more time to myself than I thought, so we’ve learned to accommodate that, but we both still miss each other whenever we’re apart.
6. We get cozy together. I’m not a big snuggler, hand-holder, or footsie player, so I’m not really talking about nuzzling under a blanket in front of the fire (A. not a nuzzler, B. give me my own blanket thank you very much, C. the fire would be too warm for hubs). I’m talking about old black and white B scary movies with the lights down on a Saturday night. I’m talking about picnics in the car on Saturday.
Christmas 2004
7. We get creative together. My husband is always building something from two-by-fours and plywood. And he’s always looking for ways to solve design problems. Since we’re always together, I get to help him to, as I say, “break two things to build a third.”
8. We know that it’s the little things. We live a simple life. Adventure to us is running an errand after work instead of going straight home. We like our little routines: Subway for supper on Thursday nights, scary movies with our grandson on Fridays, watching Monk on Sundays.
9. We let each other blow off steam without trying to fix things. Hubs is learning to be less of a “fixer” and “offerer of solutions,” and I’m learning to not worry about our future if hubs is unhappy on one particular afternoon.
10. We agree on the big things. I believe this is the biggest indicator of how successful a marriage will be. If you agree on the big things: faith, family, finances, and just generally how to live life, the rest will just be gravy.
A lot of gravy.
Enough gravy to almost drown you.
But gravy nonetheless.
11. We pray for each other. I think the most powerful thing I’ve ever done in my marriage is pray for my husband.
12. We celebrate our kids and grandkids. Our little family can be off the charts chaotic and dysfunctional. We don’t always agree on how to handle certain situations, and being a stepmom is often painful, stressful work. But we’re learning to celebrate the milestones of our kids—both for them and for us. We agree that we need to show up for them even when we don’t particularly feel like it. It makes all the difference.
13. We spend a lot of time in the car. When we have nothing else to do, we’ll get in the car and drive. Being in the car together is the best atmosphere for us to have a good heart-to-heart. There aren’t a lot of distractions, you have each other’s undivided attention, and you don’t have to look at each other in case what you’re sharing is difficult to talk about.
14. We’re patient. Every wedding I’ve ever been to with my husband, he’s offered this piece of advice to the groom: Be patient with her. I’m not sure what that says about me, exactly, but I’d have to agree with him overall. No two married people are ever quite at the same place at the same time. He’s a quick decision maker, I’m a ditherer. He’s high energy and loud, I’m low-key and quiet. He’s a talker, I’m a listener. He’s reaches logical conclusions, I reach emotional ones. We’re the textbook example of opposites attracting, so patience is extremely important for us. We’re learning that we’ll likely never change each other (shocker!), and we wouldn’t like the person we’d changed our spouse into anyway, so patience is paramount to harmony.

Happy fourteenth anniversary, Bing! You're still my favorite.
P.S. Why don't we have a more recent photo of us than 2006?


  1. I love this list! All of these points have been true in my own marriage as well. And of course I loved seeing all the photos! (But yes, ten years is too long to go without a picture together--top priority of 2016! :-))

    1. My husband surprised me the other day by saying, out of the blue, "Maybe for our anniversary we should get a portrait done." This is the least likely thing to ever come out of his mouth. So I'll have to look into that!

      Wish I could get one as nice as the one of you and Mike from your April post. It's lovely.