(Chad wrote the words below late last night. As much as I’d like to give him ‘the last word’, it only seems fair that I offer my two cents. My responses in bold.)
Summer and I were talking the other day when she mentioned “On Sunday we’ll have been married 18 years!”
First, the fact that Summer has finally figured out a system to calculate how long we’ve been married is amazing! I can count on one hand how many times Summer correctly stated the number of years we’ve been married. This is true. For some reason I am always a year off. Numbers have never been my thing. (She just told me that we should have married in the year 2000 because it would be much easier to keep track?! This is true. I don’t often forget the year–except in January. It would be much easier had we been married in 2000–the 01 throws me off every time.) Second, a brilliant thought came to my mind, “Our marriage is now an adult!”
I hope you were sitting down for that mind-blowing perspective. My marriage to Summer can now be qualified as an adult. I think it should get another ballot at the voting booth. It should be able to open its own bank account. It should be eligible for whatever other adult things 18 year olds are eligible for. Eighteen was a long time ago for this guy, so I can’t tell you all the newfound freedoms we should be enjoying right now. I feel I should mention that Chad is currently two years older than me. I do remember all the newfound freedoms of 18.
Much like life from birth to age 18, marriage from wedding day to 18 has a lot of growth. For me, the most noticeable growth is in my weight. I can’t say wasteline because I’m still wearing the same size pants, I think they just fit how they are supposed to fit now. (Why did I buy pants so big back then?) I blame it on the baby weight. Since Summer didn’t gain any with the kids, I had to make it up so the universe could stay balanced. I actually think that when the kids plopped out (you’re welcome for that terminology) she was back to or below pre-pregnancy weight. Plopped? There was no ‘plopping’ involved, thank you very much.
Also, oddly enough there has been noticeable deficit in my life since our marriage–my hairline. What used to be flowing locks of dirty-blond hair have turned into barren skin cells. Summer blames it on the kids, because I had hair before they came along. I think it could be genetics. But, either way, I have no hair, by choice. Flowing locks is a stretch.
Okay, back to a little more serious side of things, maybe. We certainly don’t always see eye-to-eye. We don’t always get along. There are temper-tantrums thrown sometimes. (Tantrums are always mine.) Communication isn’t always the best. (This one is not me.) We disagree on how to raise and nurture the kids at times. (I’m too soft.)We are generally (always) tired by the time the kids go to bed at night and don’t sit around playing games or doing book reviews or having long talks. (Book reviews? Who does that?)
But we enjoy each other. We enjoy our quirks. We enjoy laughing together. We enjoy parenting together. We enjoy traveling together. We enjoy eating good food together (obviously I more than she, but we can ignore that for now). We enjoy each others personality. We enjoy being at home together. We simply enjoy adventuring through life together (though personality type indicators would generally typecast us that way). We enjoy supporting and encouraging each other. In general, we just enjoy each other.
With this being our 18th wedding anniversary, it means that we’ve known each other for about 20 years. And that means that I am almost to the point in our relationship when I will have had spent more time with Summer than her parents did while she was growing up. Thankfully, any flaw that may come up can still be attributed to her growing up years because they were waaaay more formative than the last 20 that we’ve known each other. Sorry Tom!
All that being said, it’s been a fun 18 years of learning and growing. I know I am better person for having you in my life Summer, and I thank you for allowing me to stick around as long you have!
(My, Chad, responses in bold in this section.)
A few months ago Chad told me about a conversation had with some younger guys. Some of the guys were dating, some were engaged and they were talking about marriage. Somewhere in the conversation, Chad mentioned that he enjoyed hanging out with me. That we laugh a lot and have fun together. The response from these younger guys, he told me, was surprise, bordering on shock. (Obviously, they don’t know me and how funny I am.)
In all seriousness, these younger guys seemed to believe that marriage is something to endure, not enjoy. A task to be crossed off a list, not an experience that will enhance life. I was sad to hear these guys felt this way.
Not long ago, I saw with a younger friend who is just a couple years into her marriage. We talked about marriage and relationships and as we sat together, I reflected back over my years with Chad.
I don’t know why, I told my friend, but our marriage has been remarkably easy. (Knock on wood.) As my friend and I talked, I remembered back to days that weren’t so easy. The days in our early marriage when I threw perfectly good chicken in the trash for no. reason. at. all. because of an innocent statement Chad made. I won’t say who throws tantrums, that would be rude. As I thought back over the more ‘stressful’ times, it hit me–over 18 years, Chad and I have learned each other and in learning each other, we know better how to be with each other.
Is it that easy? Yes. And, no.
The truth is, Chad and I are very different. I am sensitive and overthink everything. I am prone to want to find deep meaning in everything and in doing so, miss all that is right in front of me. Chad is light-hearted and fun. He is laid back and easy going and soooo easy to get along with. In truth, Chad would make a great partner with anyone–I’m just lucky enough to be the one to walk beside him. I think this is always overblown when she says this to me. Despite all of her overthinking, Summer is a very light-hearted person who loves to laugh and smile. And while she would love to dwell in the morose part of life, she knows that the world is much brighter and happier. 🙂
Our marriage isn’t perfect, by any means. However, it is perfect for us.
Recently, I read the following quote in this book by Ann Lamott,
“. . . a good marriage is one in which each spouse secretly thinks he or she got the better deal.”
I believe I got the better deal.
So does Chad.
Chad, thank you for being light and life in our home. Thank you for loving me without expectation or condition. Thank you for showing our kids that marriage matters. Thank you for 18 years of a foundation of love, fun, stability and joy.
If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.