Today is our wedding anniversary. Although it’s been four years, I remember it much more vividly than that.
We wanted to remember our anniversary and have fun at our wedding, and what better way to kill two deer with one arrow than to plan your wedding for your favorite holiday?
I remember the little things, too. Our wedding fell on a Friday that year, and I had caught the first of a series of monthly upper respiratory bugs earlier in the week.
Luckily, I was on the mend by the time the Big Day rolled around, but I do remember that my upper lip and around my nostrils were extremely chapped and sensitive from all the sneezing and nose-blowing.
I also remember one of my best friends driving us around Dallas freeways in my truck so that I could get my hands tattooed with henna. I remember the bracelet set she got me. I remember the ex-boyfriend-now-family-friend who showed up to blow up helium balloons, and the chipmunk voices we all made as we siphoned a little of that helium for ourselves.
My friends say that they remember my partner’s glow, that big-as-life smile and mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He just remembers feeling ragged from having a to-do list that rivaled George Carlin’s scroll of naughty words that continued off the front of the stage.
Much like today, it was beautiful outside, and aside from my cold, I felt very comfortable. Kind of like our whole 13+-year relationship…
I could go on and wax poetic about how he’s my soulmate, my cosmic twin, my best friend, and my better half. And truthfully, he is all of those things (most of the time). But those concepts are just too cliche. We did better.
The signs were there early on. I don’t know about him, but I didn’t exactly realize I had fallen in love. I mean, it wasn’t head-over-heels or anything. One day I just realized that all I could do was think and talk about him and that I didn’t really care to see anyone else. I was content to be exclusive to him.
Over a decade later, I would describe our marriage is much the same way. Too many people think of ideal love as a euphoric declaration of undying love for the love of his/her life; the next minute they’re plotting their next escape, under a benign cover story such as a “girls/guys night out”, his “man-cave” room in the house, or something similar. Such a hot-and-cold rollercoaster-o’-drama is exhausting and it gets old fast.
I’d rather spend my life with a companion with whom I’m comfortable and content. Someone who doesn’t judge me or fly off the handle. Someone who I don’t have to constantly gush over how in love we are, as if trying to put forth a good face while concealing a desperate attempt to convince myself. Someone with whom I can come home, change into (clean but) ratty old jammies, settle into my spot on the sofa, and watch mindless television. Someone who may not fully understand what I do or what makes me tick, but admires and appreciates it just the same. Someone who doesn’t see me as some trophy hanging off his arm, subject to exchange for a younger model should I gain 10 pounds or should he start preferring blonde hair over my red.
I feel comfortable and secure. Mind you, this is not the same as being in a comfortable, secure rut. That would mean that something is unhealthy and amiss and that I’m not happy and I want something better. This is more a state of contentment. Sure, there are always aspects to work on. There’s always room for improvement. There are always new goals to set, new heights to achieve.
But what I’m saying is we don’t need to be swept off our feet or promised the moon and the stars every waking moment. We don’t need perfume for Christmas, diamond rings for our anniversaries, or expensive wine on Valentine’s Day.
We simply need someone who respects us, lets us breathe and have space to be who we are without feeling stifled, someone who doesn’t judge you overly harshly. Someone who respects you and is truly as content with you as you are with them.
Essentially, the litmus test boils down to a few hard questions: could we grow old together? Could we spend most of our waking moments around each other without gouging out any eyeballs? Would we enjoy it? That, I think, is true relationship success.
I think that success comes in small packages; the hug in the kitchen, the shared joke, the fond memory, the sincere compliment, the favor taken care of without asking, the petting of your cat, the quiet enjoyment of each other’s company. It has much less to do with the common tastes in music, the kids, or great sex.
Passion fades, tastes are superficial, and kids–admit it or not–are a major source of stress that pull a couple apart more often than they are the glue that holds a couple together.
The healthiest couples are together for no other reason than nothing binds them together (such as kids, finances, etc) than their desire to co-exist under the same roof. Put another way, the healthiest couples have the means to leave each other but they don’t because they would rather be with each other than alone or with anyone else on the planet.
My partner is still the love of my life. It’s just that he’s so much more than that.
Of course, it’s that much easier if you both like Family Guy.