My husband and I recently celebrated 20 years of marriage. While I wish I could say that I carefully chose my spouse all those years ago and that we had goals and plans in place for a long and happy marriage, alas, we did not. All I knew, 20 years ago, was that I thought this guy was an upstanding citizen, really smart, funny, and that I just wanted to hang out with him for as long as he’d have me. We’ve been “flying by the seat of our pants,” ever since.
I realize now, how lucky I got.
Two decades later, with two kids under our belts, we’re stronger than ever. I read recently that a soul mate isn’t a person who completes you, but rather should be the person who inspires you to complete yourself. (Read that again.)
In my marriage, my husband is the one always pushing me to try every little thing that I half-heartedly express an interest in. At times it can get annoying but, in hindsight, I realize that it’s his way of supporting me and helping me to complete myself. It’s like having the very best friend of your life, who has only your best interests in mind.
On the eve of our 20th wedding anniversary, our niece came over for dinner. This is the niece who also happened to be the flower girl at our wedding and who is now a beautiful, successful, secure and intelligent 25 year old woman. In a weird, sort of full circle moment, she asked what our secret to a happy marriage is.
I told her that I think it’s important to like the person you’re married to. I know that’s trite, but it’s true. I know people who are married to a person that they can’t stand to be around and I find that both baffling and horribly tragic.
I’m proud of the fact that my kids are growing up to witness a marriage between two people who genuinely like each other. They often see us dying with laughter at our stupid inside jokes. They know some of (but certainly not all of) our best stories, and they have learned the art of wit and a well-timed zinger from us, as well.
It is my most earnest hope that when it comes time for them to choose life partners, they look for someone who makes them feel the way that their mom and dad feel when they’re with each other. This doesn’t always look like “heart-eyed emojis,” but it always feels like a safe place to land.
I’ll admit it: ours is not necessarily a memorable love story. But when my kids are writing their own love stories, I hope that they accept nothing less than the true enjoyment of another’s company and that they refer back to how their mom and dad treated one another when navigating the road map of partnership.