I’d said it with pride, but when he pointed out the truth, my stomach suddenly lurched.
“22 years, huh? Why you’re only three years away from your silver wedding anniversary.”
Silver Wedding Anniversary? What?! That’s an anniversary for old people. People like my parents. My pride withered. In its place was humility, feelings of being obsolete, like some old geezer reminiscing about things no one really cares about.
To save face, I gave a quick smile to my acquaintance, and said, “Yeah, we’ll have to do something big for that one.”
This year, big was hosting a cookout. What better way to celebrate, we thought, then to have a party with old friends, friends who’d attended the very wedding we were celebrating.
It was a good time. Over burgers and chips and watermelon we caught up with one another, talked about life, kids, and our glory days. Ah, the stories! In the end, it felt not much different than one of our parties from so long ago. (Although it ended much earlier, and there were several offspring in attendance.)
The next day as we cleaned up the remnants from the party, my husband so aptly said, “Everyone is the same.” He’s right.
Of course everyone is older. There are gray hairs and wrinkles and a bit more softness around the middle. But at heart, our friends are the same people they’ve always been.
As I wash the last of the dishes, I think about my husband, our marriage. I consider: after twenty-two years of marriage, are we the same? Am I the same?
The answer of course, is no. But for this I am glad. Because the girl who married her love at age 25 had so much to learn. And still does.
But after twenty-two years of marriage, I can safely admit to knowing the following is true:
*I must be careful with my words, because while they may be forgiven, they are rarely forgotten.
*My husband does not intuitively know what I want; sometimes I have to tell him.
*Being right isn’t so important in the long run.
*A small kindness goes a long way.
*Not every grievance needs to be discussed. Little things are indeed little.
*My children are learning about marriage from their father and me. This is a huge responsibility.
*The man I married so long ago is the same man I live with today; he will not magically transform into SuperHubby, and I can’t expect him to.
*You cannot change someone else, but you can change how you react to someone. Understanding this makes all the difference.
Are You Settling or Settling Down?
I just finished reading Comeback Season, How I Learned to Play the Game of Love by (Hoosier native) Cathy Day. In this autobiography, Day is searching for love and asks her friend, “What’s the difference between ‘settling’ and ‘settling down’?”
Her friend does not have an answer. To me, this is an age-old question. And as I have just celebrated my own anniversary to a man I still “love and like” as I so profoundly told him the other night, I consider the question.
I’m not sure any one person would answer it same way. I’m not even sure there is any one answer. But for me, the difference between settling and settling down is slight but also profound. It has to do with who you are and what you value.
Settling means you are unhappy with that you have. You would like someone better but aren’t sure you can get him. The root of why you stay is based in fear. Deep down you know this; it’s why you question.
Settling down means for the most part, you’re content with what you have. This doesn’t mean you don’t have frustrations about the imperfections in your relationship. If this man would just: send flowers, take the kids camping, pick up his shoes. Deep down you know this is never going to happen.
Yet: while these things get under your skin, you respect your partner. You are proud of the person he is. If your friend dated him, you’d think he was a great guy.
No one leaves her husband because he won’t take the kids camping. Instead you accept that he doesn’t like camping, and you value his better traits. This acceptance is key.
Acceptance is taking your spouse for who they are. A person who is grumpy in the morning, impatient when you’re late, quiet when he is stressed out. He, in turn, accepts that you are entirely too talkative in the morning, moody when your writing isn’t going well, and anxious when life gets too busy (not that I am speaking about my own marriage: hahaha).
But when you’ve settled down, you let go of perfection. You accept that everyone has faults. You choose to focus on the good things in your life together; your children’s accomplishments, your own accomplishments, your good times with old friends. Most of all, you embrace the fact that after however many years, you not only still love your partner but you like him too. What a gift. Makes getting older worth it.
I’ve added my post to the web party at http://www.makealivingwriting.com, check out the other great posts here:
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