Not all relationships are perfect – or even good. The relationships I’ve been in have all ended, including my first marriage. All of them have ended – until now. My husband and I have been together for 12 years. Sometimes when people see us together they ask how long we’ve been married. I think they expect us to say a year or something so that they can say we’re in the “Honeymoon Phase” – and when we say how long, they look surprised. We’re the couple who makes our friends pretend to gag over our love. Here is what I can tell you about my marriage, in hopes that it helps you find the right man, or woman, for you.
We met all those years ago on Match.com. After my father convinced me to try it out, I did. I saw his profile and he wasn’t the kind of man I would have picked out of a crowd in terms of his looks. He’s a great looking man, don’t get me wrong – but I wouldn’t say he was my “type.” But I had learned a few things by that point, one of them being that choosing men based on a type had gotten me nowhere, so I read his profile and he was so funny and clearly intelligent that I was interested, so I winked at him. He winked back and then we spent a couple of weeks emailing before finally meeting. And when we met, I got butterflies in my stomach and my breath caught for just a second. That’s never happened to me before. Years later when we talked about how we met, I asked him why he didn’t wink at me first and he said that he thought I was too pretty and that he didn’t stand a chance. He proposed to me while we were out at our local bar. My friend was bartending and we were discussing our future. We’d been together about a year and a half and my lease was about to be up on my apartment. I was thinking about moving but I didn’t want to sign a new lease if our future was together. I jokingly asked him how much he loved me and he said, “Enough to forget about the perfect moment,” got down on his knee right there and proposed to me with a ring he’d made out of the foil of a cigarette pack. He told me later that he’d been looking at rings and planning some elaborate proposal, but that in that moment he just wanted to do it, so he did. I still have that ring. It’s in my jewelry box and is my most prized possession. A few months later he replaced it with a real one, that we picked out together. A year later, we were married.
The last 12 years have put our relationship through many trials. We’ve moved 3 times. We lost my grandmother, his father, his grandfather and both of his grandmothers. We’ve renovated 3 homes. When we tried to get pregnant we were unsuccessful and struggled with infertility for years before having our children. We went through the process of adoption to get our daughter. And throughout it all, we’ve never really had a fight. We’ve had discussions and been irritated but we’ve never raised our voices at each other or said anything regrettable. The last 12 years haven’t been perfect, but they’ve been damn close and here is why I think that is. When he gets home I ask him about his day and I really care about his answer. I listen and try to help him problem solve. I regularly let him know how damn much I love him and that I’m attracted to him and that I find him to be charming, intelligent, funny and kind. I never allow myself to take him for granted. I treat him the same way today as I did when we were dating. I care about him and I always make sure that he knows that. I don’t get angry over little things. I see him for who he is, and that includes his flaws. And I accept him as that person and love him regardless of those little flaws. That doesn’t mean I never say anything, or that I just ignore it. But I don’t expect him to change who he is. After all, I love him just the way he is, and to quote Sex in the City, “Be careful trying to change a man. They’re like sweaters. Pull the wrong string and the whole damn thing falls apart.”
And here’s what he does for me, and how I know he’s the one for me. I suggest you marry a man who comes home from work and always gives you a kiss. Who never hangs up the phone without saying “I love you.” Who comes home to a house that looks like a tornado went through it, doesn’t say a word about the mess, and buys you shrimp and grits for dinner. Marry a man who tells you that you look better without makeup, who tells you you’re sexy even after you’re still carrying 15 pounds of baby weight on you. A man who pushes you behind him when you encounter a dog if you’re out on a walk. A man who supports your dreams and your endeavors. A man who listens and accepts you and your little, weird issues. That’s the man who will give you a happy life.
Put each other’s needs either before your own, or equal to them. If you both do that then you can’t go wrong. Never raise your voice. If you’re angry, try to take time and think about how you want to express yourself before you speak. This is especially hard for passionate people, I think. Passionate people are led by feelings and emotions and it’s harder for them to stay quiet and not express what they are feeling. But if you can do that, then you never run the risk of saying something you’ll regret. And each day, look at your love and try to remember how you felt when you first fell in love. Then hold on to that and let that feeling, let that place, be the one from which all of your actions and words are coming from.
Us, on our wedding day.