We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary last November by taking a trip to Jamaica, all inclusive (which is code for Par-Tay). We hadn’t been on a REAL vacation in 6 years–we were due. A week in Florida on the beach, the year before our oldest daughter married, was our last getaway. 2011, was our 30th, Paris was on the table but we hosted her wedding instead. This year we determined not to let the vacation slip away before hosting the 2nd wedding. We’ll always remember their anniversaries! One for our 30th, the other our 35th.
35 years! Somehow it doesn’t seem possible, then again, it seems as if it’s always been. Living with someone for 35 years is an accomplishment. Living with them and enjoying it an anomaly these days. In Jamaica I chatted up the lady at the excursion desk while making reservations for a side trip. She asked me about our family so I told her that our youngest was just married, which of course led to a photo show. When she asked me if we liked the young man I said “Oh yes, he has potential”. She gave me a funny look so I explained, “We told our girls that they don’t marry perfection, they marry potential”. Her eyes popped and her mouth dropped open. It was a thought she’d never considered. I explained that my husband isn’t the same person he was when we married, he’s improved over 35 years (hopefully so have I). But he had tremendous potential when I married him and I love him and he adores and loves me. It’s the same for our daughters, they love and are deeply loved by their spouses and all of them will grow into their marriages as they mature and learn together. She seemed astonished to hear it, always fun to astonish someone.
However, this is an ode to my husband not my daughters’. I’ve been reminded this year how fortunate I am in my husband, he’s always been a rock for me. Loved me when I was unlovable, steadied me in times of uncertainty, given me confidence and security, provided for me, been a wonderful father to our girls and he’s always been my biggest fan, cheerleader and support system. You could say, he’s the best thing that ever happened to me (next to Jesus). In times of illness he’s always stepped up to the plate and done what had to be done. Through unemployment seasons he’s carried the burden of providing, taking some nasty, difficult jobs to keep the bills paid. Through challenging familial relationships he’s kept perspective, advised and given me the confidence to set some necessary boundaries, reminding me that HE is my family. And always, always, his humor carries the day. The man has humorous charm in spades.
Lately, this year, he’s become a real voice in our marriage. Not that he hasn’t always been a voice, but with the arrival of his 60th year even more so. In the past as new people met us they often came away with the idea that I ran the show, then they got to know us better. Some would say I should work on that impression but Bruce enjoys the novelty of proving them wrong. As we’ve aged and matured our voices have become, shall I say, more balanced?
I’m as opinionated as I’ve ever been, but I hope I’ve learned to be more prudent and my listening ears have become better tuned. Bruce on the other hand, has acquired a more frequent voice. This vocalness adds a new dimension to our marriage and I find it refreshing–when it’s not maddeningly frustrating. I wait to hear his opinion, it’s fun and challenging. His secureness in those opinions is a comfort even if they are occasionally reminiscent of, shall we say, geezers. He has always been a charming conversationalist and his intelligence is illuminating so I shouldn’t be surprised…yet I am. Surprises after 35 years? Gotta love it.
Now that we’re on the other side of parenting we’ve rediscovered a compatibility that was limited while the girls were home. We made time for each other while they were growing up, but anyone who says kids don’t come first is lying. So much of what we did revolved around the family, as it should. But I gotta say, this empty nest thing is fantastic! We’re loving the freedom to do what we want when we want. The freedom to speak about anything, anytime, anyplace? What a relief! Not having to worry about many ears hearing is one of the #bestthingsever!
All this newfound freedom, the surprises, the ease in compatibility are secondary to this man’s total and complete love for me. In his hierarchy I am IT. It goes without saying that his Lord is Jesus but after that–I am Queen. I rely on this, depend on it, even taking it for granted. Taking things for granted gets a bum rap, in this case I believe it’s correct. Married couples should take for granted that they are each others’ IT. In my world Bruce is always IT. I plan my days around his schedule, my activities accommodate his life and job. We’ve both accepted that our 2nd love language abilities stink. It doesn’t stop us from trying but it’s not required. Yes we powered through tough times. At one point my mantra was “I didn’t sign up for this” and after he’d had enough Bruce replied “Yes, you did”.
Nothing like truth to quiet the chatter.
We are embarking on an adventure this year. We’re moving to the city of Chicago, abandoning our suburban life for bright lights and noisy traffic. Our motivation is our church, we love it and are too far away. It’s a calculated leap of faith (is there such a thing?) It means trusting that I will find my way in a major city when I’ve never known anything but suburbs. It means trusting that our finances will cover the expenses of city living, renting and maintaining 2 properties. And it’s a challenge physically. The Accident of 2014 left us both diminished. While we loose the yard we gain steps and stairs, it’s daunting. Hopefully they add up to increased health and healing. It’s all good. Excitement = pain relief? Our fingers are crossed, prayers said and peace is prevalent.
And I gotta say, if there is this kind of adventure at 35 years, I’m gonna enjoy year 40!