I, Swear

P1170989“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

It is kind of funny to think that the year I was turning 21 is the year I got married. Even more odd to me is the concept that today I celebrate 21 years with my wife.  There is a song that called “Don’t Blink” and when you are young you don’t quite understand that concept, but I can tell you in some ways 21 years ago seems like ages ago but in other ways it feels like not that long ago.

When we started this journey we were just a couple kids with a child on the way.  There is no way I could have predicted the path our lives would take. I could have never predicted the trials and joys or how quickly that 21 years would go. I couldn’t foresee another 2 children, deciding to homeschool our kids, me staying home with them, the fights, the uphill battles, the passing of my parents, or her father getting diagnosed with Alzheimer.

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“Happiness is only real when shared” ― Jon Krakauer

There is no way I could have predicted anything ahead of us.  In fact 21 years ago the only thing I was doing was fighting to have the woman I wanted, then saying I do to someone I wanted in my life. To think about  that start amazes me. Also that back then I had no idea how we would make it.  It felt so overwhelming and I took a lot of walks just to figure things out. We started living with my parents for a few months and then our own place.

Expenses exceed income driving old cars (though I did love my 81 Riviera),  and just the support of our parents. We had state aid from health insurance to food stamps.  Sandi would have to go shopping with the food stamps because I couldn’t use them because of how it made me feel.  You learn to focus on the beautiful people that see beyond the situation to the people inside. There are plenty of jackasses out there but you try to focus on the beautiful people.

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“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” ― Dave Meurer

We’d go for drives with the kids and the car didn’t have air conditioning so we would use a spray bottle with cool water to spritz the kids sometimes to keep them cool.  It seemed everyone had an opinion and well I’m pretty stubborn person with my own ideas of how to approach things.  Which is probably why it worked out that my wife and I did a role reversal and she went to work and I stayed home. You see we both always believed that one of us should stay home and that meant even when finances dictated that both of us should work.

The priority was our children.  I’d fit various ways to bring in extra money in over the course of the years I stayed home including starting my own business. It was an interesting start to a marriage. A small wedding in the woods with only a few people and a honeymoon at a cabin in the woods that her parents rented for us. In fact my wedding band I had to borrow money from her dad to buy.  Which that man has always amazed me even though he didn’t agree with me, disagreed with us getting married, and he still helped us, though you always knew a speech was going to come with the help.

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“The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.” ― Stephen Kendrick

So 21 years ago most people didn’t think we would make it, some didn’t even think we would make it a year. It was a tough way to start a marriage and even tougher way to start a family. It didn’t help that I was very headstrong and not willing to listen very often to others.  Which sometimes was to my advantage and other times not so much. Though I guess the biggest perk is both her and I were committed to making it work and we trusted were brought together to complete each other.

While our song back then was “I, swear” by all4one, the song that really touches both of us back then and even now is “Keeper of the stars” by tracy byrd.  I can’t think of anyone that would put up with me 24/7 for any amount of time, let alone 21 years. I’m moody , headstrong,  and brought scars with me that there she could not have been prepared for. Especially since she had the typical American family upbringing, while my childhood and youth was by no means typical.  I didn’t bring any drinking or drug use with me nothing like that. Okay I did bring smoking with me which she hated but the things she had to deal with was those scars that impacted how I dealt with life and influenced my anger. I’m so glad God helped me find a way to handle that anger because that was my most destructive trait from punching walls, throwing things,  to my mouth. I’m still not sure how she put up with that. Faith is the only thing I can think of.  Maybe it helped to understand the root of that anger but still it was the one big thing that could have taken down our marriage.

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“Sometimes the best and worst times of your life can coincide. It is a talent of the soul to discover the joy in pain—-thinking of moments you long for, and knowing you’ll never have them again. The beautiful ghosts of our past haunt us, and yet we still can’t decide if the pain they caused us out weighs the tender moments when they touched our soul. This is the irony of love.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Her father and I talked several years later and he said that was the concern he had with us as well was my anger.  He saw it before we even got married that he would anger me with his comments and I would walk out saying some explicative and slamming the door as I went for a walk. Though I would always return when calmed down to continue the talk.

When you stop seeing the world as always against you and allow yourself to see the beauty. When you deal with the scars and stop allowing them to control you. When you open yourself up to be healed and stop seeing yourself as a victim and just as something that happened and is part of you. When you realize that the life ahead of you is so much more important than the scars from the past.  When your focus changes it changes everything.

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“To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the wedding cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up.” ― Ogden Nash

21 years later and with the faith of my wife and  God. I have learned to nurture the loving caring heart that my wife saw in me and I let the anger go years ago.  It has been an amazing ride and I can’t think of anyone better to take that ride with.  Though our years has been filled with mountains and valleys but it’s the love and joy that has made it a beautiful 21 years.

I’m listening to music while I write this and the song “I,swear” came on as I finished writing this. It has brought a smile and tears to my face.  What an amazing, beautiful ride this has been. I thank God for his guidance the entire time and giving us all the opportunities he has along the way and showing me how to truly use my heart.

Thank you for your time and I hope you have a wonderful day.

p.s. My editor has not reviewed this so any grammar issues blame Microsoft word for not catching it for me. 🙂

“Love’s about finding the one person who makes your heart complete. Who makes you a better person than you ever dreamed you could be. Its about looking in the eyes of your wife and knowing all the way to your bones that she’s simply the best person you’ve ever known.”
― Julia Quinn

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15 concepts to a happy marriage on our 20th anniversary

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“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

-Mignon McLaughlin

 

Today marks 20 years since that moment when my wife proved  she was crazier then me. She did so by uttering two simple words…. “I do”.   Below the cutesy bit here are 15 recommendations I see to making it 20 years.  You’ll be able to tell the recommendations by the numerical references in front of each of them. 🙂

We walked down the trail to the spot we had chosen. It was a spot where the creek came together. We stood in the middle of that Y with the squirrels grabbing my attention periodically. We were each given our vowels and we both said “I do”.   I got my angel and well you got probably more then you anticipated.

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“Being in a long marriage is a little bit like that nice cup of coffee every morning – I might have it every day, but I still enjoy it.”

-Stephen Gaines

You have stood by my side through everything. We built our lives together, raised three amazing children that we both are proud of. We have always shown each other respect, lifted the other when needed and took time for us even amid chaos.

I remember the naysayers. The ones that did not expect us to last a year. The ones that figured within a few years you would wise up and get out of dodge. 🙂  I still remember one of my friends on our first anniversary saying he was suprised we made it a year because I was an hmmm how do I put this right…a donkey’s hiney.  🙂  Though I have found that those opinions of me generally related to the fact that I was strong willed and not much for rules…. hmm come to think of it not much has changed so some probably still think me a donkey’s hiney.

We had a rough start with finances and child on the way. It was an uphill battle the whole way but we had faith and each other.  Looking back I smile because I think about all that we went through together the hills and valleys, the adjustments, and trusting that we could do make it. You agreeing to the switching of our roles where I stayed home and you went to work. We had always both agreed that one parent should stay home even though that meant it would be even harder to make it in this world.

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“The best time to love with your whole heart is always now, in this moment, because no breath beyond the current is promised.”

-Fawn Weaver

It is funny how many people always had an opinion about things from our marriage to how we should raise our kids. It always seemed someone was ready with an opinion. I’m glad we made each other’s opinion what was important over any other.

I had three basic goals in life: A loving family, a home, and enough money to support those things. From beginning with nothing to obtaining those simple goals and more. It has been one wonderful ride.  I would not change anything about the past 20 years… well maybe….na, not even that. 🙂

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“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”

-Sam Keen

Now for those reading some tips on making it 20 years.

1. COMMUNICATION.  The first and most important thing in any relationship not just a marriage is communication. You must learn to have a dialogue. In a marriage it is a must. You have to talk about each others needs, wants, expectations. Also about your feelings. Honestly you have to convey your feelings and not just the “I love you”, but what you are feeling and why but you must also be willing to listen.

2. you always hear the 50/50 thing, its utter bs. First you both put in 100 percent but as far as who has the control it depends on the situation. Sometimes it is 70/30 other times 20/80.  It depends on what you are facing. Sometimes one person gets more focus then the other just because they need lifting up but the pendulum always has a way of swinging back.  rarely are you at 50/50 except maybe as it swings towards the other way.

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“The greatest marriages are built on teamwork. A mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and a never-ending

portion of love and grace.” -Fawn Weaver

3. You get the notion by some of the need concept. You need the other person that somehow you must need your partner or have that feeling. That isn’t true. What you need is to Desire the other person. You want them in your life, you desire them in your life. If you focus on the desire and wanting and not the needing.  Desire allows you to look for those things in the other person that you desire and want.  When you focus on need you begin to focus on the your “needs” that the other person can fulfill then you get angry when they aren’t met even if that just happens sometimes.  Need is more correlated to co-dependency then it is to a life partner. I want my partner there when I face something but I am capable of handling it without her but it is so much better facing anything with her at my side.

4. Never stop dating. So many people stop dating after marriage. I don’t understand this. Then when they have kids they really stop.  You need to date. You need to go to dinner sometimes, go for a walk together, spend time together. This is even more important when you get kids. The weekends my parents took the kids help strength our marriage because we got to have time together and just be us.

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“Love is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other, and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together.”

-Barbara Cage

5. Always treat each other as equals. Never treat your partner as inferior. You enter marriage as equals and you stay that way. You each bring unique things to the marriage. That is something beautiful.

6. Join your partner on things they like to do. You know 20 years ago I thought Daffodils were tulips, now I know the difference plus I can tell you names of various plants and have learned an appreciation for plants. 20 years ago she couldn’t tell you anything about a computer, now she recognizes terms and knows what they mean.  Learning to at least appreciate and join your partner in their interests every once in awhile is a good thing. That does not mean you have to go to every garden club meeting or computer conference, but joining on various outings that may not be your cup of tea will help you understand better the person you chose to live your life with.

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“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.”

-Peter Ustinov

7. be spontaneous. Unless you happened to marry someone that does not like surprises, otherwise spontaneous actions are a good thing.  Okay spontaneous goes with my nature, just part of who I am. My wife will be on her way home and I’ll call her ask her where she is then I follow her response with “hey want to go on a date tonight”.  That is beauty to having young adults I can once again be more spontaneous.  I buy her little gifts on a whim etc.

8. Let them know when you are thinking of them.  You do not have to tell them everytime but from time to time let them know you are thinking of them. Also it is nice to let them know why. I find myself thinking of my wife when I am around flowers. Especially flowers she loves such as orchids, roses, daffodils, etc.  I’ll text her or even send a picture of whatever it is and say just thinking of you.

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“You don’t marry one person; you marry three: the person you think they are, the person they are, and the person they are going to become as a result of being married to you.”

-Richard Needham

9. Say thank you. When the love of your life does something let them know with a thank you. When I take my wife’s car and I fill the tank she shows her appreciation with a thank you or some cutesy way of letting me know she appreciated the gesture. When she is really tired and wore out but finds the strength to watch a movie or show even though she really wants to go to bed. I say thank you. I also thank her for just being her or for loving me. Thank you is an overlooked thing many times once those two other words are said.

10. Find something enticing about your partner every day. Even when they are sick and grumpy you can find something about them that makes you smile or amazes you. Sometimes it is something silly which is fine. Like I smile because when my wife gets sick sometimes she loses her voice and I call her froggy. You are probably thinking how can that be enticing… well first I just find it a cute little thing that happens when she starts to lose her voice, second when I poke at her about it the cutesy looks she gets or even just sticks her tongue out at me, which makes me smile. I also find something beautiful about her always.

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“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.”

-Simone Signoret

11. Never ever compare your love.  This is a multi-faceted one. Never compare your love to another couple. Never compare your love to your partner’s love, and most of all never compare your love to the way it was. Love changes throughout a relationship some parts get better others become less. You may not walk in the door and immediately go into a passionate embrace and strip as you go back to the bedroom anymore but that does not mean your love is dead it means it has changed and if you think about it into something more beautiful then that lust driven passion, at least if you grew together overtime.

12.  Never compare the person you are with now with who they were. You both change and evolve over the time of a marriage. Wanting the way it was at the beginning of your marriage or wishing they looked like they did when you first got married will only lead to the darkside. You learn to accept and love who you are with throughout every incarnation. You can not expect someone to stay static nor should you want them to.

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“When there is love in a marriage, there is harmony in the home; when there is harmony in the home, there is contentment in the community; when there is contentment in the community, there is prosperity in the nation; when there is prosperity in the nation, there is peace in the world.” – Chinese Proverb

13.  Never stop the little touches. You know the light touch as you pass them. the quick feels. The holding hands or kissing. Touch is something magical. A loving touch can do magical things and don’t forget the ever powerful hug. Especially when one has had a rough day.

14.  follow your instincts. You have that urge to do something for the other person, then you begin to question if they would like it or whether you should, etc etc. Just do it. I mean within reason. Let’s avoid that urge to show up at her work half naked in a cupid outfit singing love songs….um what no one else has ever had that urge? you saying it is just me….um then forget I said anything about the cupid outfit.  🙂

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“We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.”

~ Agnes Repplier

15. Last one… Laugh, smile, and have fun.  I see some couples so stiff that you wonder about them. I love to laugh. I love to smile.  I also love making others laugh and smile.  As an example I came into house and my daughter was playing a love song and my wife was sitting on couch. I began to dancing around silly over emphasizing movements and acting like I was singing to song and incorporating my wife by pointing at her, looking at her and approaching her. Making her and my daughter laugh. Then I slowly unbuttoned my shirt some and flashed my chest at her.
Laughter is just as important as the communication.

Remember never take life to seriously….you’ll never get out of it alive.  😉

Also excuse any grammar.  🙂  My wife has not read because I want her to read after I have posted. 🙂

Have a blessed day and may life bring you many joys and happy memories to get you through those darker moments.

To my wife… I love you with all my heart. Thanks for putting up with me for 20 years. It has been an amazing ride and I couldn’t think of anyone better to take it with. I love you like crazy….

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