I finished the school year strong, closing it out with a great night with my teachers. While sitting with them, chatting, laughing (a lot) and eating tacos, I receive a text from my father-in-law wishing my husband and I a very happy anniversary. Oops.
It’s been 13 years of weddedness and wishing my significant other a happy anniversary hadn’t crossed my mind – at all. But I knew it was okay, mainly because I was sure he hadn’t remembered either.
It has been quite the “season” in our marriage, mainly in regards to us having to adjust to a new way of being together a lot more frequently, as he quit his job several weeks back. He is ALWAYS around, so my mind, I believe, is a bit confused about how long we really have been together.
Add that with the fact that it was the last week of school and my son had to finish up an end of year project (anyone with children knows what this means). We were and are also recovering from having to set an alarm to get up at 4 am to give our daughter super antibiotics (you can read about that here, but be forewarned, it’s not a pretty story). We are pretty much zombies right now and I don’t know if zombies actually celebrate anniversaries of any sort, so no shame here.
Five minutes after the “reminder that it’s my anniversary” text, I get another text saying “Thank you. That reminds me that I need to get a gift for JQ.”
My father-in-law provides some sound, but obvious advice, “Dinner is always nice. Like a date night just the two of you.”
I laugh out loud because I know my husband knows I am on that text, and although we have gone on a date night out on most, if not all, of our previous anniversaries, we have never gotten a gift for each other. I’m not sure why, other than that it has never felt necessary. It’s like we both know we are each other’s gift. At least I hope he knows that he is my gift. Maybe I’ll tell him.
I pay the bill for my tacos, hug and say goodbye to my teachers, who are also some of my favorite people and start walking to my car. On the way, I see my husband’s group of guy friends drinking and having a good time. I stop and say hi. I then quickly realize that my husband is not out with them because I’m out with my people and he’s at home with the kids – on our anniversary. I ask to join them and grab one of their beers so that I can get a picture with them. I send the picture to both my husband and father-in-law with the words “Happy Anniversary.”
My father-in-law responds, “Wonderful. Hello to all. Looks like a lot of fun.” He has no idea that my husband is nowhere near. I think it might seriously confuse him, so we’ll keep that between us here.
Here is the deal: our marriage has been surprisingly easy over the years. Oh so simple. Notice I did not say perfect, as we have both had our fair share of screw ups, forgetting anniversaries a part of the minor league of such screw ups. The rest of our screw ups I’ll save for another post, or ten. But this anniversary reminded me of why it has been so easy. I have married someone to whom I can send a picture of myself, beer in hand with 3 other men on our anniversary and I know he is at home laughing as much, if not more than I am, at the whole ordeal.
It’s been easy over the years because both the minor things like forgetting important dates, or the major things like him leaving his job, dashing my hopes of ever having larger breasts or enough retirement to do whatever the hell I want, isn’t something we see as all that important. We have been so blessed to have found each other and to both really believe that our individual contentment comes first and foremost over trying to make the other one happy. We both know that we can’t make each other happy and that our job isn’t to do that. Our job is to find a way to be content with ourselves – solo - in order for us to find contentment with each other.
It sounds so opposite, I know, of what most of us have been taught about marriage. At least, opposite of what I was taught. Does “wives, submit to your husbands…husbands love your wives…” sound familiar to anyone? Those words can be interpreted in so many ways. I used to interpret them, or rather they were interpreted to me as “your job is to make sure your husband is happy, and your husband’s job is to make sure and bring home the bacon.” That interpretation never worked for me.
I feel like I can speak from experience as the years of my trying so hard to make my first husband happy, forgetting all about my own contentment is a prime example of what does not work. We remembered all kinds of important dates throughout our dating and marriage, but to no avail. We took everything so seriously, and I can tell you I would have never been able to send a picture of myself with a glass of beer and three other men to him without some dire emotional consequences. Needless to say, that marriage didn’t last. Or, it did, for a mere 2 years.
But now, here I am, 13 lucky years into a marriage that is still going mostly strong. I say “mostly” because I am tired right now and although I didn’t drink that beer that is in the picture, I did have a margarita at the taco place and those always make me tired. Plus, we just finished a really long and hard final week of school and I didn’t fall back asleep after the fifth straight 4 am antibiotic wake-up call. Check back in with me in a week, as we are headed to the beach for some well-needed r & r. While there we will get to officially celebrate our 13th, if we can remember. I do know that I can remember that my husband doesn’t need to bring home any bacon to make me feel loved. And, he’s never expected me to make him happy and it’s all working out pretty well for us. Here’s to the next 13.