I celebrated my 15 year wedding anniversary this week. We’ve been together nearly 18 years now. We’re good, but we’ve had our shares of ups and downs. We’re simply two different people. We have similar core values, though sometimes the periphery along those edges are are far apart. I suppose no matter who it is: child, parent, girlfriend, spouse, if you spend enough time together you’ll have some uneven times and get sick of each other and think they are idiots. We’re no different. But mostly the times have been good. Maybe not always great. Certainly not always excellent, but for nearly 18 years I’ve built a life with someone who I love and continue to grow with. And who I continue to find attractive and who enjoys a good rodgering.
I’m not sure if I have any great insights. When things are hot, we’re usually spending more time talking or generally communicating, and less time ignoring each other on devices or with late night work. We usually are trying to better ourselves, so are dialed into our own bodies and minds more and hence are naturally more connected versus when we are lost in other projects – work or otherwise. We started out dating as playful and fun, but by the time we moved out to New Jersey from the midwest we started dealing with some minor depression issues and disconnection as Holly withdrew. We went from early dating frequent sex to infrequent sex. Yet I still asked this woman to marry me, so we fought through a move back home, underemployment with her, and some general floundering to make it to the alter. I was afraid she would get cold feet. She was afraid she would too, but we powered through.
Then we started getting more established in our careers. Then decided to have kids, and our sex life and early child-rearing years bottomed us out as a couple. It was headed toward the typical middle-class, two working couple, two kid boredom with a dead bedroom situation, with a beta dude. Which lead me to the ‘sphere and saw if my marriage were to make it things would need to change. I’ve documented my journey in earlier blog posts- the self improvement, the taking control of our family life, the increase in sex, the lifting. The journey hasn’t been linear, but more like an upward sloping saw, and still is. We focus on outside stuff (work, kids, sports goals, work, screens) and forget to stay connected, things get complacent, then we snap out of it and reconnect and things are great for awhile, then we lose focus and focus again on outside stuff. Pattern repeats.
For newlyweds or those who haven’t figured this stuff out, it can be scary and maybe even go nuclear. By now both my wife and I usually can identify the signs, screw things a little tighter and get back to good times. For the last several months we haven’t been paddling very hard on that river of life, just sort of drifting through the summer letting it take us where it does. Our careers are rocking and rolling, and for me I’ve been more engaged and motivated (or brainwashed) in my work dynamics and striving more. My newish position (about 18 months in) aligns with my core values and it is easier to deal with the corporate aspects when things are interesting and satisfying. Hence, as that part of my brain gets itched by work, I feel less motivation to write everyday, or even every week or month. That may change. I hope it does. But with the floating along in life comes other ramifications. We become two individuals that overlap in some areas but maybe aren’t super engaged in each other.
Anniversaries or other events are often sometimes a catalyst for revisiting why you are together in the first place. To remember those feelings and talk about the early days and good times. Those touch points are important milestones in a marriage and should be revisited. With the bullets flying of raising kids and a mortgage and working, you sometimes forget those things. Holly and I took the opportunity to share a bottle of wine and talk and laugh about some of those things. About buying a house and getting married at 25. About sleeping on an air mattress and the free curb couch at our first apartment. About how much weed we smoked in college. About the times we spent training on the bike for triathlons before the kids were born. About past trips and sexy times and raising kids. About future dreams and retirement and another 40 years together.
We’re spreading the anniversary across three days because we’re really only able to devote a little time over each day to the effort. Day 1 (really night 1) was talking and the full bedroom menu. Night 2 was a concert with friends, with lots of laughs and good music. Night 3 will be dinner just the two of us with some more bedroom times. We just booked another kid-free sexcation for next February too, so after refocusing after an up and down summer (including a cabin week at the end where Holly was a little discombobulated) we are (I think) back on the upward cycle on the sawtooth. Holly’s lost 10 pounds over the last 3 or 4 weeks. I’m still lifting and training now for a half-marathon with my wife. Things are pretty good.
I think if you want a good marriage, both sides need to never stop trying to get better individually, and need to use that push the relationship up as well while at the same time staying connected and not just going through the motions.
That’s really my takeaway. Maybe not attached at the hip connected, but more connected than just tagging each other on Facebook, and raising kids. My marriage isn’t perfect, but it is one that with continued attention will continue to grow. We both agreed things were better now than they were 10 years ago, and if things go well, we’ll only annoy each other for another 40+.