My husband and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary today. And by celebrate I mean we sent our children to their grandparents and spent a couple of days eating our way around Portland. The dinners involved steak and lasagna. Fantastic lemon custard one night and a bananas foster cheese cake the second. Breakfast was spiced Huevos Rancheros and cheese grits with charred tomatoes. Yummmm. One of the ways we've managed to reach 19 and still like each other is a dogged commitment to celebrating everything with fantastic food.
I'm the lucky girl who knows how this handsome bearded man thinks. I know because I've spent that last 19 years eating across the booth from him. We met when I was 18 so I've been married to him longer than I didn't know him. I know the best ways to annoy him (don't give him space, talk bad about him before other people, interrupt him or others). I know the best ways to make him happy (catch his daughters doing something kind and tell him about it, appreciate something he's made, write something that changes the way one of us sees a hard situation). He's got me figured out too. If I'm cranky, feed me or put me in the bath with a book. Not complicated.
I asked him last night what advice he'd give to people on how to stay married 19 years. Here's his list:
Don't be crazy. (and by this I believe he means, calm down, fight fair, avoid the deal breakers, think).
Don’t be ridiculously self centered.
Give the other person space when they want it.
Don’t say one thing but mean something else and expect the other person to know what you are talking about.
Don’t berate your spouse in front of other people.
Work towards being a better person.
Invest your time in people that tend toward the positive.
Try and evaluate people in your life that are exceptional and watch what they do.
Figure out your stuff.
It's a good list. I think it works for parenting and friendships and any manner of relationship where longevity and care and quality are goals.
I enjoy the celebrate everything bit. I think people forget the joyful part of marriage and get stuck in the daily grind. If I have marriage advice its to try and figure out what makes your spouse smile and do more of that. Try to know your kids well enough to not push their buttons and to cheer on their joy. Try to honor your parents by avoiding what will break their hearts and invest in what brings honor. It works with friendships too.
Yesterday, my spouse took me to my happy place. Powell's books. We spent time in the children's books looking at the newest picture books, wandered through cookbooks and fiction and business. Picked out some books for family and friends. I have a new nephew to celebrate and a friend who I found out has never read Mere Christianity or The Hiding Place. This will be remedied soon.
This morning before heading home we spent the morning at The Portland Art Museum. My husband noticed the paint in this piece was incredibly thick. Parts looked almost as if the large globs had been glued in place. As we leaned in it became apparent the largest chunks were actually separating from the main painting due to time. There were cracks and crinkles.
Want to know something? The time gave it character. Depth. You could see the water ripple better because the painting had aged. The value increased with time.
The figure out your stuff thing is tough. It's what you do when it would be easier to leave. Or to shut down. We spent several years fighting about money and so we hauled our issues through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class. It helped. We've attended marriage retreats and parenting classes. Read books, took small group classes and one painful season headed off to a counselor. We used to fight when we put together Ikea furniture. Lots of practice and now we can assemble anything. We've got a plan. The figure out your stuff thing means identifying where the tension is coming from and figuring out a new normal.
Figure out your stuff means you don't get to quit. Trust me, I've let my husband down - and he can drive me crazy. But figuring out your stuff also means you get the privilege of loving someone after you know all their junk and after they know yours. It means hanging on to friendships when people make choices you don't like. It means investing in people with whom you disagree. It might be easier to love new people - flawless and fresh people. Of course, that's fake and if you hang out long enough the bugs show themselves. Real people take grace. But the years after forgiveness and growth and grace are the ones with treasures.
What have we been doing the last 19 years? Figuring out how to keep some promises. To honor and cherish. For better or worse.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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