Thursday, May 28, 2020

Staying Together

Today is my wedding anniversary 

It's been quite a few years since the day that this bride and groom who once topped my husband's parents' wedding cake stood upon my own, and while no marriage is ever bulletproof, at this point, ours has definitely beaten the odds. 

In honor of this special day, here are a few observations about what has helped us stay together:

Compatible values.
My husband and I have different interests, different energies, different personality traits. On the Ennegram scale, he's a  hardcore 1 and I'm a total 2; in Meyers-Briggs speak, he comes out as an ITSJ and I'm an INFJ; two types with similar letters that are ideologically many miles apart. When we meet strangers, there's often a bit of head-scratching that goes on as people struggle to connect the dots between his orderly, man-of-few-words, no-nonsense personality, and my Ke$sha/Mrs. Weasely vibes. It's true, we are very different people. But what holds us together, what forms the solid core of our union, is that we agree on what's most important in life. Kindness. Respect. Honesty. Curiosity. Hard work. Selflessness. Love.

Let each other grow. 
I have a friend who jokes that her husband courted her under the false pretense that he was a sporty, outdoorsy kind of guy, and then once the ink was dry on the marriage certificate, he totally shattered that illusion by permanently parking himself on the couch. It's a funny story to which many married people can relate; there's definitely some truth about the ways that we relax into marriage. But over the years, we also change. My husband is a very different person than he was when we were dating, and sometimes that frustrates me. But spoilers - I've changed at least as much as he has. Probably more. And it's our willingness to let each other reinvent ourselves that has allowed each of us - and our marriage - to grow.

Roll with the punches.
Yeah, yeah, we all know that the traditional wedding vows lay out some serious warnings of life's potential for problems: "For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health." I thought I knew what I was doing when I agreed to all that. And I did, to the best of my twenty-five-year-old understanding of life. But dude, I had NO idea about some of the curve balls and challenges that were coming our way, and honestly, I'm sure it's better that I didn't. What's more important is that we knew to expect some troubles so when the troubles showed up, we fairly quickly got over our shock and just started figuring out how to deal.

It's a threesome.
Okay, look. This is either going to sound obvious or totally preposterous, depending your own point of view, but trusting in God is the best ace up our marital sleeve. I'm serious. If married people believe that God brought them together and built up their lives together for a reason and a purpose, then it's a whole lot easier to get over the proverbial dirty socks on the floor. Whenever I'm annoyed with my husband - who by the way has never, ever thrown a single dirty sock on the floor and almost certainly never will - God has a way of reminding me, "Sure, you have a legitimate grievance but then again, you haven't had to change a single light bulb or battery in the last three decades. What's that worth to you?" He's the ultimate good-faith negotiator who keeps both my husband and me at our best when we need it most and without him, we would certainly fall short.

* * * * *

And a final thought that may be the most important one of all. In our first few years of marriage, we actually did struggle with that classic marital conundrum - should the toothpaste tube be squeezed from the bottom or the middle? After debating the issue with all the rational firepower we each could muster and still not coming to a meeting of the minds, we resolved the problem once and for all by buying ourselves our own tubes of toothpaste.

That's a small price to pay for a lifetime of staying together. 

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