We got married on Labor Day. We joked it would remind us that marriage is work!
That was 35 years ago today.
And although we thought it was funny all those years ago, we were perfectly right. Marriage is work. A lot of work.
Here are the top 10 things I’ve learned while I’ve been on this rollercoaster ride:
- Love is the foundation. We fell in love at first sight. Yup, it really happens. We were both smitten immediately. I told a friend the next day, “I just met the guy I’m gonna marry.” The beginning was a long-distance Boston/New York romance. We walked every square inch of both cities. Everything felt like when The Wizard of Oz goes from black and white to color. As time wore on, the magical newness love became genuine caring love. As we, early on, faced things like my mom’s illness and death, and infertility, it was the basic, deep-down love we had for one another that sustained us. It will change and go in and out and up and down, but it must remain. Love is not all you need in a marriage, but a marriage won’t last without it.
- Respect yourself and each other. Sing it Aretha. A marriage without respect is going to crash and burn faster than you can say “Do you know a good divorce attorney.” This is the part where you both have to make sure you’re independently doing and being what gives your lives meaning and giving one another the encouragement of like, a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. I don’t mean you have to want to do or feel what the other does, you just have to believe in them enough to be cool with whatever it is. ALSO, you have to both respect the third party–the marriage. Treat it as its own entity. There’s you and there’s your partner and there’s your marriage and all three need their due.
- Trust me. If you don’t feel safe in a marriage, trouble is coming for you. If you think your partner isn’t doing what’s best for both you and your relationship, things aren’t going to last long. If either of you is in a constant state of curiosity about the other’s commitment, it’s dooms day.
- Honestly. Lies aren’t welcome here. Be truthful with your partner. Whether it’s something you don’t like that they’re doing, or someone you see that you fall in love with, don’t go sneaking around behind their back. If you had enough respect and love to marry your spouse in front of all the people who mean the most to you in the world, then have that same respect and love to be honest with your partner. The end.
- I do and I will. Commitment means that barring a major natural disaster that renders you helpless or dead, you will be there for one another and the marriage. No questions asked, no considering otherwise, no kidding. This is not for the faint of heart. We’ve faced some tough stuff during our more than three decades. And every marriage will. But this is where you show one another what you’re made of and that you and your marriage are as important to one another as you are to yourselves.
- Laugh. Life is amazing and horrible and fun and mean and miraculous and cruel and incredible. And so is marriage. If you’re not laughing at yourselves and your marriage, you’d better get packing and look for a new place to live on another planet.
- Make time for one another and have some fun for crying out loud. Having a good time together is always important, but especially after you have kids, who can easily demand every second from you. Get a babysitter and have a once a week date night when they’re little. It feels impossible, but even if it’s a couple hours, on a walk, for lunch or dinner, at a coffee shop, do it. DEMAND IT. We need fun to fuel us. Make time to enjoy each other independently. It matters. A lot.
- Make new friend, but keep the old. Have couple friends and independent friends and pay attention to each. Friends are good for marriage because their good for people. Sometimes a friend can see what you can’t and help you through a rough patch. Couple friends can make you stronger. (NOTE: Couple friends can get divorced and this will cause your marriage suffering. It’s really hard……)
- Do stuff together and apart. It’s great to have shared interests, or to create some. Doing things together can give you a sense of, well, togetherness. Whether you’re both movie maniacs, music buffs, or golfers, go and do as a couple. But also, make sure to do what your spouse doesn’t, as well. Staying independent is good for staying together.
- Fuck. Whether you have sex twice a day, or once a month, maintaining a physical relationship is vital. It bonds you and makes you feel connected in a way nothing else does.
I’m no expert, but I know a little something having kept this ship afloat for this long! And now I say to Peter, thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for all the times you’ve been positive when I’ve been realistic. Thank you for standing by me like a glue stick. Thank you for always loving me and our children and our dogs. Thank you for believing in me, at times, more than I believed in myself. Thank you for always being there. Thank you for making me laugh. I love you. Here’s to the next 35.