I’ve been married for twenty years. 20 years, only about half of marriages last that long (I thought it was even less than that). What can I say, I love the man and he loves me. We make great business partners, lovers, friends, supporters, caregivers, etc. When you’re in a lasting relationship you both wear many hats and learn to switch them out as needed (and sometimes wear multiples at once) to make a strong and unwavering balance.
It’s tough work, but oh, so worth it.
I usually say that time is both slow and fast when referencing my marriage. But I made a video recently of the past 20 years worth of photos of Lee and I together. Going through all my photos in search of the perfect ones for my video I realized how long 20 years really is. I had thought it had gone by so fast, but that was just because I wasn’t remembering everything we’d done and been through together. 20 years is a long time and we’ve done so much.
Our very first trip was with a group of friends and family to Universal Studios. That trip was also our first couple photo. We made many lasting memories that trip.
We love to go on short trips with friends and family. We’ve done several: San Francisco on a spur-of-the-moment whim, a trip to the LACMA and Trejo’s Taco’s, and Trejo’s Donuts, trips to different beaches, and Jocko’s, trips to churches and missions, trips to visit other friends and families, trips for special occasions. Foodie trips are always the best.
Our first wedding was an elope. We went to City Hall, just the two of us. We had no witnesses so the Justice of the Peace asked two people in the waiting room to sign as witnesses. We said our vows, the JP took our photo and gave us a gift bag of free samples and coupons and we went on our way. It was perfect.
We are lucky that each of our families loves our spouse. My family especially loves Lee to no end. Lee’s family has had some hiccups with me, but there has never been any doubt of love.
For the first three years of our marriage Lee and I liked to go to the fair when it came through town in early October. We would just walk around and see the exhibits and eat fair food. We would get our picture taken at one of those black and white photo places. The photo’s left much to be desired, but it was fun and we loved to do it together. We stopped doing it when we fell on extra hard times, after several years of not having any money, even though times got better again that little fair tradition has never made a comeback.
Our second wedding was in the Catholic church. It was a group wedding of about 22 couples. The event took place on Valentine’s Day. We decided to do this because Lee’s mother was having a very hard time with the fact that we were not married in the church. It was a romantic and special thing for all of us, but for different reasons. For Lee’s family it was the religious aspect. For me, it was just the simple act of proclaiming our love and commitment to each other once again.
Often Lee and I will escape, just the two of us, and go on an adventure to relax, unwind, and romance somewhere other than the norm. When times were extra tough financially we would just rent a hotel room in town for a night. Even that small getaway can do wonders. We’ve also done bigger things like going to amusement parks, beaches, day trips just driving around aimlessly, or just going to the city to window shop and eat good food. OK, so more often than not it is small, inexpensive things. The point here is that you don’t have to do big, expensive, far away things in order to have a great romantic getaway. It’s supposed to be about being together and giving each other your undivided attention and reminding yourself and each other that you love and value and are loved and valued.
Lee and I have a lot in common. We both love to do fun things that are also educational and enriching, like reading historical books, going to see historical places, museums, etc.. We are both foodies, always trying new and interesting foods, also foods of different cultures. We share a love for Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune films. We share the same political views. We have each brought a lot of new experiences and joys into each other’s life. I don’t think I would have ever bothered to play World of Warcraft if it wasn’t for Lee.
We love our friends and there are often parties and get-togethers. Spending time among our friends is awesome, fun, wild, wonderful. We laugh, we cry, we bitch…commiseration is great therapy. With my agoraphobia I do not always attend the get-togethers. But I cherish them.
Our group of friends are as much a part of our marriage as each other. Most of our friends in some way have impacted and strengthened our marriage and relationship. We’ve gone through some very tough times, even the strongest of relationships struggles, and it’s through these trials that a relationship will learn and grow, or will perish. Certain dear friends have been there for us during these times and helped us to do that learning and growing, whether it be purposely or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, without our friends we would not have as strong a bond as we do today. We have a wonderful support system in many of our friends.
As I said, Lee and I work well together. We have on many, many occasions been on the same wavelength without even having to speak. Someone is in need, we do it, not talking, no checking with each other, we just do it. Someone asks for help or comes to us to talk. Someone is talking about a random subject, Lee and I both are reminded of the same thing and both start to tell the same story. Yes, we do finish each other’s sentences. We both will speak up at the same time offering the same aid, story, suggestion, etc.. After twenty years it’s almost like we’ve become two halves of the same mind and heart.
This past year has been an extremely heartbreaking one for us and our friends and family. We’ve all been there for each other as best we can. Significant others have tried their best to be there for each other especially. Something some people may find surprising is that even though it is our job to be there for our significant other (it’s written in the stone of the invisible, unspoken, Soulmates Terms and Conditions you sign with a piece of your soul at the moment you fall in love) so very often our suffering soulmate will not open up to us but will either hold it in or talk to someone else (because they do not want to cause pain and suffering to you). For me, and so many others, it is crushing for my man not to open up to me. I can see his pain and turmoil, and I can be there, hold him, comfort him, etc., but I can’t listen too terribly well and be a good emotional caretaker if he won’t speak with words as well.
I tell you this because being in a lasting relationship means forever learning new lessons, forever improving your relationship, forever meeting new trials. The heart wrenching year we’ve had has taught me that I need to learn to listen better with my eyes, instincts, heart, and all other senses, just as much and as well as I can with my ears. Pain often speaks without ever using words.
I talk a lot about our friends, much more than I do about our family. We love our family, both sides, but as is common, we spend more time with our friends, and truthfully can be more ourselves around them. Family is extremely important and supremely loved. Family, of course, plays a very large part in our lasting marriage. We’ve both learned from our parents and extended family marriages, good or bad, everything is a lesson, just make sure you learn the right ones.
What has twenty years of marriage taught me? When you meet the right person, whether they be your best friend, a close relative, or someone you end up marrying, the right person to experience life both good and bad with is the best thing in life. I’m a loner, I usually work so much better alone than with a partner or in a group. But when it comes to life in general, a partner, the right partner is much preferred. I would never have survived this long without my husband. I certainly would never have been happy without him.