My husband and I have been together for over twenty years. That’s a very long time. We met in high school and watched each other graduate high school, college, and graduate school, find (and change) careers, and become parents. We watched each other become adults and now we are watching each other age. We have had days together that glow in my memory as my most favorite days and we have had days that crushed me and hurt so deeply I was sure I wouldn’t recover. Through it all, however, my husband has remained “my person”. He’s the one I could not spend my life without. The thought of losing him makes my stomach ache and when these thoughts cross my mind I will usually seek him out for a smile, a quick touch, or even just a “Hey, how’s your day?” over the phone to remind me that he’s still here, by my side, like always.
Our twenty-something year relationship is special and I am well aware of its rarity. Many couples who meet and marry young will find themselves divorced. Most people meet their spouse later in life and hit the twenty-year mark well into their forties or even fifty. For us, beginning our relationship as teenagers means:
1. I don’t remember when I met my husband. We met in high school during my sophomore (his junior) year. I think. I have no recollection of someone introducing him to me. I don’t remember the first time he spoke to me. He just was, one day, in my circle of acquaintances.
2. My entire adult life has been spent with my husband by my side. Every “grown up” decision I’ve made, I discussed first with him. He was there as I matured, learned from mistakes, and grew into adulthood. I discovered and became the person I wanted to be with my husband as my greatest influence.
3. I don’t remember our first kiss or our first date. I don’t remember introducing him to my parents. I don’t remember meeting his for the first time. All of those relationship “firsts” that every couple has? I don’t remember most of them.
4. Almost every “first” in my adult life has been experienced and celebrated with him. My first job, my first apartment, and my first car bought completely on my own—all my elation and excitement was shared with him. My first house, my first pregnancy, and my first child were all his first too.
5. The most challenging battles of my life thus far have been fought with him by my side. Health scares, money struggles, career changes, and parenting (this biggest challenge of all) have been our problems to share. Some days these challenges tested the strength of our relationship but we have always pulled through, still standing by each other’s side.
6. We each know exactly how to make the other laugh. We have “inside jokes” that go back twenty years. We can get a giggle out of the other with one word, one look, or one well-placed poke. We can spend days exclusively in each other’s company laughing, talking, and enjoying each other.
7. We are each experts when it comes to knowing how to drive the other completely insane. There are days when I have absolutely no idea how we managed to tolerate each other for so long.
8. We have seen each other at our best. We have witnessed amazing acts of courage, strength, and brilliance. We can speak about each other with pride and share stories of each other’s greatness.
9. We have seen each other at our worst. Hideous arguments, bad decisions, moments of disappointment–those memories will always be there for us to learn from and hopefully not repeat.
10. The love we have for each other is absolute. It usually isn’t loud and some days we may not even feel it or show it. It’s there though. It’s there every morning when we wake up and turn to each other to greet each other and the day. It’s there when we watch one of our children do something amazing, funny, or infuriating and our eyes turn to each other to share our thoughts and feelings. Our love is there when he cleans my hair out of the shower drain and when I pick up his dirty socks. It’s there when we drop our children with their grandparents for the weekend and we reach for each other’s hands as we make our escape, giddy with excitement for some time together.
Happy 15th Wedding Anniversary to us. Here’s to twenty-two years…and counting.