Paul and I have been married for a really long time. And we were a couple for a long time before we got married. And we were friends for a long time before we became a couple.
We met in the seventh grade, isn’t that weird? We fell in love at the tender age of 16, and we married at 22. We are heading for our 35th anniversary this summer.
How have we made it last, you ask? How have we managed to stay together all this time?
That’s a really good question, and now that I am the mother of three young adults, I have asked myself the same thing many, many times. I wish that I knew the answer. I wish I knew how to advise my children. I wish I knew the secret.
After all this time, it is still a mystery to me to find that Paul still loves me, and that I still love him. It kind of makes me laugh, to tell you the truth!
I don’t have all the answers. But I think I have figured out a few little nuggets of wisdom to share. These are the things that have worked for us, as far as I can figure.
#1) Be honest about your partner. Don’t try to ignore his faults and only see his virtues. I mean, how unfair can you be to someone? We’re all human, and we all deserve to be loved for who we are, not for who our lover wants us to be.
#2) Be honest about yourself. Don’t try to pretend that you love fishing if really makes you sick to even think about it. I learned this one the hard way, on a few too many hikes above treeline. Be yourself and tell the truth!
#3) In spite of number 2, be more generous than you want to be! Do things just because they make your honey happy, even if they sort of make you crazy. (Note the multitude of hikes mentioned above.) The thing is, though, its important not to pretend that you love what he loves. Be honest and be clear, and then do some things you don’t like to to do.
#4) After you do those things you don’t really like doing, forget about them. This is vital. You can’t go on the hike and then complain for two weeks that you did it. (OK, you CAN complain all you want, just not to your spouse. This is why God gave you friends and siblings, right?)
#5) Be romantic. And I don’t mean the whole candles/champagne/flowers thing. That is just plain trite. Be honestly romantic, by thinking of those little things that will please your love.
Here is a perfect example of a romantic gesture. I think it explains why I stay married to my friend Paul.
I have had a rough couple of weeks, for various reasons. Just feeling sort of blue, sort of stressed, sort of fragile. Paul knows that. On Friday I was at school, and I got a text. It was from my hubby. “I just bought some strawberry plants, and I got fresh asparagus.”
Now you should know two things about my husband. The first is that he loves fresh strawberries with a passion that defies description. Last year he built a raised bed and filled it with strawberry plants. He was in Heaven all summer, picking and eating that luscious fresh fruit. This year he decided to expand his bed and double the crop.
The second thing that you need to know is that Paul absolutely loathes asparagus. He hates the taste, the smell, the texture of it. He would never, ever, ever spend a nickel on this veggie for himself.
But I love it, especially when it is fresh and local. Especially in spring.
And so my honey scooped up a lovely fresh bunch of asparagus, just for me. And then he took the time to send me a text about it.
THAT, my friends, is romance. It isn’t jewelry or roses or a trip to some exotic locale. Romance is when a nice man is running an errand, and something little makes him think of you. Romance is when a guy buys his wife some fresh asparagus, knowing that it will make her smile. Knowing that he will have to light some scented candles after dinner to cover up the smell.
So this is what I wish for my children: I wish you someone who loves you so much that he will buy you something that he can’t stand, just so that he can see you smile.