On Monday, my wife and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.
In the large scheme of things, we are still relative novices. However, given the fact that of the couples we know that were married around the same year we were, we are one of three that are still together, it is apparently no small feat. I wish I could take the credit, but we have made it through, no thanks to me. I have bumbled my way through the last decade, and a half and it is only by the grace of God (and the fact that my wife thinks I'm a really good kisser) that we have managed this long.
No, I have not been unfaithful or gambled away the mortgage payment. There are, of course, many other practices besides infidelity, drunkenness or irresponsibility that can be equally destructive. Often times, it is the little things: indifference, thoughtlessness or failing to help around the house that eat away at the fabric of a marriage. It was recently reported in the news that marriages are more successful when men share the domestic chores. Of course, this left me struggling to figure out why any man would get married if he still had to do his own housework.
I have been very fortunate. I married a truly dynamic woman. She works a full-time job, takes great care of our boys, finds time to stay in shape and still manages to give me some measure of attention. If she could cook, she would be just about perfect. She is, as the Four Tops sang, "The Keeper of the Castle."
Aside from my mood swings and tendency to let the laundry pile up, my major failing is that I tend to take her exceptionalism for granted. It is not that I am unaware; it is just that too often I fail to let her know that I am mindful. She then imagines that I am indifferent. I forget that it is not enough to simply abstain from saying hurtful things. As husbands, it is just as important to offer words that build our partner up.
It is important for her to know that the reason I am faithful is not because California is a community property state, but that in her I have all I need, that after all these years, when she is near me, I still feel like putting the Frankie Beverly on the stereo and loving her up. It is important for her to know that I consult her about important decisions not just to avoid arguments, but because I value her opinion and insight. Each day, I need to let her know that she is significant and that in this mad world, she matters.
When we were married, we chose not to recite the more traditional vows and instead searched through a book of alternative vows and chose one of those. For our anniversary, I thought it would be fun to dig up the vows we took so many years ago and measure our progress. Good luck. Somewhere in the garage, buried beneath mountains of stuff is a single sheet of paper with our vows printed on them.
They were pretty straight forward, as I recall: love, honor, cherish. No vow for her to obey (If you ask me, there is possibly no greater waste of breath. Any married man will tell you that no matter how hard he begs, pleads or threatens, a woman is going to do exactly as she pleases. Obey? You have got to be kidding!). I do remember that there was something in our vows about having fun with each other. Certainly there have been periods of great joy, though I am not sure either one of us would describe the last 13 years as fun. An adventure? Yes. A trip? Absolutely! And one I am glad to be on with this particular woman.
These words are from my heart. Hopefully, they will serve to build my wife up and let her know that she is indeed significant.
Baby, you are the best friend, lover and partner a man could ask for. And I am humbled that you have honored me by agreeing to spend the rest of your life with me.