*I wrote this last year- in response to the questions I would receive when people learned we've been married so long after marrying so young. Rarely does a couple who marry when the bride was still 17 (yes, I had graduated high school, but hadn't turned 18 yet- my parents had to sign for me) and the groom was only 21. I don't think a betting man would have put much money on this marriage (as many others didn't) but what do they know? Now I actually speak o the topic of marriage, sharing from my own good, bad and ugly attempts at wedded bliss. I think it's important to share not only what works, but what doesn't! And I've actually learned more from what doesn't! The only thing that has changed since writing this last year is the date, so it has been updated.
Today, Big AL and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary! Yes, we started young, and began adding to our family just two years after that, then every three years we added another son until, by the age of 27, I already had three sons!
Looking back, although we had many struggles, I have no regrets of marrying so young.
There are many things I wish I could do over, though, if given the chance, but we all know that is impossible, so I can only choose to do the next best thing, which is learn from my mistakes and try not to continually repeat them...on purpose, anyway. ;)
I think we have a very healthymarriage--not always an easy one- and yes, there were times over the last three decades that it would have been very easy to say, "I'm done, here." But a feisty Italian girl and a mild-mannered yet stubborn Irishman have always realized that we had much more going for us than anything that could ever destroy us--and we fought for what was rightfully ours--a good relationship!
Don't think we are just "lucky". Nothing could be further from the truth! NO relationships (whether it involves spouses, friends or business partners) ever lasts 3 decades without some major work on both sides. Healthy marriages don't just happen- they happen on purpose. And yes, it takes two.
Our strong points include that we are still physically attracted to each other (and no, that's not shallow. It's important.) We try to keep the attention of each other, and that is done ON PURPOSE. There are all sorts of ways to keep the interest even after 3 decades...see photo below. ;)
Yep! I think we were off to a good start!
Gotta fan those flames!
*This photo was taken on Valentine's Day a couple of years ago. I made a Chinese dinner for the two of us, complete with music, Asian table setting and I wore a kimono.
Let's just say... the evening was a success.
This sure beats hamburger helper served in a tattered tee and sweatpants, dontcha' think? It's those "intentional" moments that are appreciated.
More importantly, we respect each other. We are VERY different personality types, which can open us up to lots of friction at times.I think he's too quiet, he thinks I should be quieter.(Like that's ever gonna happen!)
Guess what? It ain't gonna happen! THIS is the way we were created and also is one of the things about the other that attracted us. Although it's still frustrating at times, we can see the perfect balance of our opposite personalities. God knew what He was doing when we brought us together. We need the balance. It's actually a wonderful survival tool.
The older we get, it is much easier to overlook things that really are of no consequence.Does it REALLY matter that he leaves the toilet seat up in the middle of the night? Well, yes it does if mine is the rear that hits the cold water , however, that can be easily remedied with a simple prank that doesn't require a nagging comment from me. Nagging is much easier, but usually doesn't change much. We intentionally, look for ways to laugh at things that could otherwise make us really angry.
We learned the importance of arguing without hateful comments. (It CAN be done!) And we've both learned to hold our tongue when a tongue-lashing would only cause more pain and or scarring. (Big AL is much better at this than I am!)We argue much less than we did when we were younger. And when we do, the duration is short. And no, I'm not a 100% tongue-holder- still working on that one. But I can call myself an 80% tongue-holder. (95% on a good day.)Not bad for a peri-menopausal woman!
We also enjoy making each other happy.NO "looking out for number one" here. I serve him, he serves me. SO much more rewarding than hoarding for ourselves.
We've learned to VALUE each other.
If you believe that each person on this planet was created in the image of God (even if they are now unrecognizable from the initial created intent), it is much easier to see their value as a one-of-a-kind creation. Anything we value, we take care of-protect-give a special place-esteem highly. There were times when I didn't see his value- his worth- especially if I thought he was wrong! The more I dwell on his worth, the easier it is to take good care of him. I WANT to serve him. I want to be gentle with him. I want to protect him. He is not replaceable. I don't want to lose him, or damage him. And yes, I believe I have the power to do both.
We take vows seriously.
We vowed to love, honor, cherish each other, forsaking all others... till DEATH do us part! Why would we bother saying that if we didn't intend to keep those vows? And when and if our feelings change, do the vows then become void?
If I sign my name on a home mortgage because this house was "everything I always wanted!" and then later, I find that I need a bigger one, a better one, one with more features I deserve, can I just stop making the mortgage payments and walk away? Well, I CAN, but I will pay a big price...for many years to come.
I am bound to an oath I signed. A promise I made to be faithful in fulfilling my oath. Our feelings wane from day to day. One day, I feel the love so strongly I could burst! But there have also been days in the past I thought to myself, "What was I thinkin'?
The commitment to the vows we made, "For better or worse", can sometimes be the very glue that keeps us where we belong. I want to be a woman of my word. Not a woman who is blown around by every wind. I am proud to be called a faithful wife.My husband has no worries- he knows I can be trusted. THE BAD: There were times when the boys were growing up and Big AL worked long hours and was exhausted when he was home, and I resented him for that. I felt as if we were cheated on quality time spent with him. I felt that too much pressure was on me as the disciplinarian as well as the many other roles I didn't want to fill. My resentment caused me to be miserable at times. And you've heard the old saying... "If Momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!" Well, I'm
ashamed to say that was probably true more often than I'd like to admit.
Only later in our marriage did I learned to live by the philosophy, "It is, what it is." Deal with it.
If you never take away another tip from an old married lady, put this one in your pocket. RESENTMENT IS UGLY!strong> It looks good on no one! It is a detriment not only to relationships, but to souls as well. It is a cancer that will devour any living thriving cells in its path. It is the beginning of the end. It leads you down a path going no where. Well, actually, all paths lead somewhere- resentment leads to a path of all things bitter. WHO in their right mind wants a life full of bitterness?
When I decided to forgive and let go of disappointments and unfulfilled expectations,
I finally was able to enjoy my marriage fully- maturely, as it was intended for me to enjoy it.
I can honestly say that I LOVE my husband-with everything in me! We have a physical bond as well as an emotional and spiritual one. We share a love for our Creator and Savior and that has always brought us even closer. The Bible says that a "three-strand cord is not easily broken." So we work on building those "cords". We are bound together in body, spirit and souls. Rather than shredding the cord by picking apart everything about him that drives me crazy, I want to continue to strengthen that cord- In every possible, conceivable way.
Ours is not a perfect marriage, but a loving one. It is strong-s even stronger as the years go by.I feel very blessed to have the relationship I have with my Big AL. God knew exactly what I needed. He is a good balance for this otherwise "off-balanced" lady.
And yes, 3 decades later, I get butterflies when I see him. I do still think he HAWT!I choose to be with him over others. I want to grow old with this same man I have grown up with.
To you, Big AL--may we enjoy many more loving years together as we continue to strengthen that cord. That cord becomes a lasso, luring the other even closer. Happy Anniversary! My love. My life. My better half. My soul's desire.