Twenty five years ago I fumbled my vows and said "Sure" instead of the more traditional "I do." We giggled through the rest of the ceremony, sealed it with a kiss, got a lot of advice during the reception ("Never go to bed angry," "Relationships take work") then headed halfway across the country to start a new life.
Looking back, we hardly knew each other, my new husband and I. It had been less than a year since we'd met, and all we had was a hunch that this felt right, that this person made us feel complete. Two moves, two kids, two careers and one dog later, we know each other very well. It turns out that our hunches were good, and my misspoken word couldn't have been more perfect -- I am still "sure."
When you have been together for 25 years, friends start to ask for advice. I have none. I don't presume to know what makes a relationship work -- all I have is some vague idea of what might possibly make mine work. For whatever that might be worth to anyone else, here are 25 Things I Have Learned in 25 Years.
1. Marriage is a magnifying glass. The things that were good, get better. The imperfections get bigger, too.
2. It's nice to start out a marriage away from parents and have time and space to become "just us."
3. It's nice to move back a few years later; about an hour's drive from each set of parents is just perfect.
4. Loving someone means opening a whole universe of worry.
5. The perfect thing to say is often nothing.
6. Having a first child means doing a gut renovation of your relationship; having a second child means rearranging some of the furniture.
7. You can't love one person for the rest of your life -- because no one stays the same for a lifetime. So the person you become has to keep falling in love with the person they've become.
8. "Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can't sleep with the window open" George Bernard Shaw said. Or, ya know, as perimenopause hits, the opposite.
9. Only one person is allowed to fall apart at a time.
10. It is only okay to fight in front of the kids if a) you fight fair and b) you both think it's okay to fight in front of the kids.
11. It really doesn't matter which way the toilet paper hangs. It matters very much that the toilet seat stays down.
12. Spouses should not call each other "Mommy" or "Daddy."
13. Nature knows what she's doing, making his eyesight go downhill at the same rate as your everything else.
14. There is nothing as sexy as a man who cleans the snow off your car before you even wake up in the morning...
15. ...unless it is a man who's fallen asleep with a newborn on his chest.
16. You will either have a marriage exactly like your parents' or completely different. If your parents had different kinds of marriages, it will give you a lot to talk about.
17. You hold assumptions you don't even know you have until they bump up against someone who didn't realize theirs were the opposite.
18. If he hates scallops, learn to order them for yourself whenever you eat out.
19. A lark can live happily with an owl, as long as they are both heavy sleepers.
20. Sex is not the same in your 50s as it was in your 20s. Trust me, that is NOT a bad thing.
21. It is lovely to be loved in spite of your flaws. It is even better to be loved because of them.
22. The things you are most afraid to admit are the things it is most important to say.
23. If you keep talking while the children are young, there will be lots to talk about after they've grown.
24. I have never thought of my relationship as "work." If you spend all your time working at a relationship, are you actually having one?
25. Sometimes you do go to bed angry. Sometimes all you need is a good night's sleep.
Chris and Gary Hills on their wedding day on June 26, 1982.
Chris and Gary Hills in 2012.
John Thottathil and Mary Thottathil on their wedding day on October 7, 1978.
John and Mary Thottathil on their 32nd anniversary in 2010.
Melinda and Dick Johnson on their wedding day on November 25, 1955.
Melinda and Dick Johnson in 2012.
Chris and Cris Dewey, married in Santa Barbara, December 3, 1978.
Cris and Chris Dewey with their five kids in 2012.
Gary and Evelyn Sutter on their wedding day on August 22, 1981.
Gary and Evelyn Sutter in May of 2010.
Linda and Julio Gallo on their wedding day on August 18, 1973.
Linda and Julio Gallo in 2012.
Ray and Bette Wright on their wedding day on February 14, 1947.
Ray and Bette Wright celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary in 2012.
Jeanne and George Everitt on their wedding day on June 26, 1954.
Jeanne and George Everitt in 2012.
Alice and Robyn Goshorn married July 12th, 1971.
Alice and Robyn Goshorn a day after their 41st wedding anniversary in 2012.
Married in Los Angeles, California on July 10, 1982.
Michael and Cynthia Herbert in 2011.
Bob and Lori Howard married on January 31, 1981.
Bob and Lori Howard on their 31st wedding anniversary.
Paul and Clare Leger on their wedding day on August 15, 1970.
Paul and Clare Leger in 2011.
Donald and Azucena Almanza wed on September 14, 1967.
Donald and Azucena Almanza in 2010 at their son Abraham's wedding.
Sergio and Yolanda Melo married on September 12, 1981.
Sergio and Yoland Melo in 2012.
Chris and Beth Ann Chiles married on July 18, 1982.
Chris and Beth Ann Chiles in 2012 on their anniversary trip in Victoria, British Columbia.
Jesse and Patrica Beauchamp married on June 4, 1972.
Jesse and Patricia Beauchamp in 2012.
Svetlana and Nicholas Romanov on their wedding day on August 9, 1973.
Svetlana and Nicholas Romanov in 2012.
Alan Kluger and Amy Dean on their wedding day, December 28, 1975.
Alan Kluger and Amy Dean in 2011.
Hank and Dinny Dreyer on their wedding day, May 28, 1949.
Hank and Dinny Dreyer on their 60th wedding anniversary.
Dave and Jane Soyka married on June 30, 1972.
"On our 40th anniversary! June 30! We celebrated in Hawaii -- Golf at Kapalua!"
"My grandparents, John Clarke, Jr. and Janet Reynolds Clarke, have been married for 52 years. They have had three children, five grandchildren, and countless nieces and nephews. They live in Mystic, CT. Here is a wedding photo..." -- Andrea Simmons
John Clarke, Jr. and Janet Reynolds Clarke in 2002 on a cruise in Alaska.
Jane and Gary Harvey on their wedding day, May 7, 1977.
Jane and Gary Harvey in 2011.
Lauren and Mark Struthers on their wedding day, July 10, 1982. The photo in front of the chapel they were married in in St. Louis, Missouri.
Lauren and Mark Struthers on their 30th anniversary, in front of the chapel they were married in, currently moved to the grounds of a winery in Ste. Genevieve, MO.
Susan and Michael Denney in their wedding day, January 30, 1971.
Susan and Michael Denney in 2011.
Gerard and Carol Terrell on their honeymoon in December 1981.
Gerard and Carol Terrell on March 5, 2011 in Phoenix, AZ at their son's wedding.
Rhoda and James Lynch on their wedding day, December 26, 1971
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