“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
We were driving down Route 1 when the gas light popped on—25 miles ’til empty.
We both then remembered the sign in Big Sur: Next gas station X (?) miles.
Neither of us could remember the exact number. We were so eager to chill in Big Sur we ignored it. But, as it turns out, Big Sur was the last chance to fill up between the miles and miles of twists and turns and high elevation where land meet sea.
In retrospect, we probably should have heeded the sign in Big Sur, and gotten gas here:
But we didn’t, so we hashed out what we could do if we hit empty—hitchhike to the next gas station (how many miles is it?), siphon gas off a friendly hippie. I watched his hands grip the wheel tighter as the zigzags relentlessly came.
We could have started bickering, but instead we were so sunk into our 10-year anniversary celebration and so at the mercy of our gas tank, I put on this…
I mean, why not?
I admit I had to shake off mental visuals of flying off the side of the mountain into a ravine as our brakes failed. I toggled between telling myself we have enough gas to get to the next stop. I think I can. I think I can. Get us there! Please, please, please! And wondering “Why does the gauge say 15 miles one minute and 20 the next?”
Finally, a beacon in Gorda … ahhhhhhh (cue the mystical light):
The price pushed $6.00 a gallon, but here’s my Visa, take what you will. We made it!
We made it to Gorda, and we “made it” 10 years married, as well.
Ready for a love fest?
Here are 10 Things I Hold True after 10 Years of Marriage:
We Change. It’s not best practice to enter a relationship expecting someone to change. You know how it starts: “He just needs a little work. I’ll help him change.” You also know it ends: He doesn’t change in the way you want. In reality, we all change—sometimes for others, but mostly we change because change is life. We develop at different rates and in different ways, but we all change. Hopefully we grow, but either way, we change. Change is part of nature. Change is inevitable. It’s unnatural, scary even, to stay fixed. Biologically, we replace all of our cells every seven years with new ones. Why should you fear change or at least hope for no change? Through change, we can grow, connect, renew.
We Bend. There is little room for scorekeeping in a marriage. It’s so easy to keep track of who is doing more (of course you always think it’s you!), but tit for tat does not make for a happy marriage. This is rarely 50-50 in a marriage. Your mom told you this when you were five, but she was right—pick your battles. Before you get angry, it pays to ask yourself: “What am I worried about?” or “What do I need?” Try this and ask yourself this. Or don’t, and do this:
We Fight. Not a lot, but we certainly disagree. We argue. We are opinionated and both have strong personalities. I’ve called him a jerk before. And meant it … at the moment. When I oversaturate, I become overwhelmed. This is when I have a tendency to project my emotions and frustrations. This is usually when a tiff erupts. But through disagreeing, you learn and you share, bend, and connect. I got the memo that people in happy marriages don’t fight, but its off the mark. We fight, and we are happy.
We Share. The good and the ugly. The mundane and the life altering. The annoying and the neurotic. The television: 'Jimmy Fallon' openers, bands, 'Modern Family', 'Nova', and 'Homeland' binges. A cup of coffee on our deck and stolen glances at a party. He shares his French fries and I share the covers (most of the time!).
We Connect. Gazing at the Pacific Ocean on Route 1, it hit me, we’re still getting to know each other. After 10 years of marriage and five years of dating (15 years!), we are still getting to know each other. Peace came over me and I smiled, contented. This is an interesting article on what the author calls the bird-bid. Do you turn away or engage when your partner invites you in?
We Laugh. The best medicine is to crack a joke. Laughter brings you close together, dropping blood pressure as it eases the tension and stress. Our inside jokes run deep and sometimes a mere word sends us into a laugh. Recently it’s our 4-year-olds turn of phrases. She’s a wordsmith in her own right. One night this week, she put on her pajama top with monkey bottoms and leg warms. She strolled into the living room saying, “How do you like my Warm Leggers?”
We Parent. Together. We aim to be a united front. Of course, our girls try to divide us. “Daddy said I could have an Oreo, Mommy said we could have a movie night tonight.” But, we mostly stick together, even if we disagree with each others’ method. Disaccord is usually said with a look, meaning let’s chat later. Parenting with my husband is such a treat. He is up for connections and adventures. I am impressed with him as a dad:
I walked into this scene one winter afternoon after I got home from school:
We date. Our Pre-Cana marriage counselors advised us to remember that our family needed to start and end with us. You’ve been told to hold sacred the date night. We average once a month with a babysitter. What about you? We try, but we get lazy about date night. It’s expensive and after a work week, we love being at home en famillle. But when we we push forward and get out, I’m grateful. Most of the time we head out together, but it’s also a thrill to meet out. It’s sexy to spot your partner from the distance in a restaurant or bar and know they are with you. Even though we don’t hit the town regularly ($15/hour for a babysitter adds up), we slow down together most weekends. Most Saturdays, we cook dinner and chat and listen to music over a few drinks after the girls are tucked in their beds.
We explore. We started out traveling together, as a mobile-marketing team driving the Hershey Kissmobile across the country for five months. During our courting days, we worked together 24/7, checking out new places. And we still are. Often it’s Chicago-based, but we strike out on a trip when we can—as a family and as a couple. Travel is in my soul.
We are. We are in this thing called Life together. I can say there is no one on earth I would rather be with. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
What about you? What have you discovered about your relationship after x amount of time together? What are tenets you hold true about happily ever after?