My husband and I are celebrating 42 years of wedded bliss today, so I thought it was a good day to talk about marriage.
The last thing I would ever deign to claim is that I'm an "expert" on anything--even on those vocations to which I've dedicated the majority of my 64-plus years on earth: wife, mother, and homemaker. I don't pretend to have all the answers, and the last thing I would ever dare to do is give someone unsolicited advice about how to be happy and successful in those areas.
|From summer 2016, taken in the yard at Oyster Haven.|
I certainly don't know it all. But as far as marriage goes, I just know what works for my husband and me. We tied the knot on this date in 1980, and ever since we've enjoyed an extraordinarily happy marriage, with lots of crests and very few troughs; and although we sometimes disagree and might occasionally get a tad too impatient or grumpy when dealing with each other, we have never had a shouting match. When I say never, I mean NEVER; no screaming and yelling, no throwing plates at each other (does that really ever happen, or is that just in the movies?), no storming away from each other with a slam of the door. We don’t really even raise our voices at each other--that's just not the way we roll at all.
I believe that the secret to our happy marriage comes down to two simple sentences that my husband and I have uttered countless times over the years.
Me: "You're my hero."
Him: "That's all I've ever wanted to be."
Our words might come off as sappy and saccharine, and not at all serious, to the casual observer (and our funny boys will pretend to vomit if they hear them, because that's how they roll); but we are absolutely sincere when we say them. He is my hero; he has spent our whole life together striving to be just that. And I try to let him know how much I appreciate all that he does for me and our family, as often as I can.
We choose to look for only the good in each other, while accepting the flaws (because we all have them, don’t we?); we appreciate the gifts and strengths each of us brings to our union, instead of wasting time criticizing each other’s weaknesses. We don’t comment on each other’s idiosyncrasies or try to change each other and then get frustrated when we realize we can’t. We accept each other, and truly like each other. We “get” each other, and we make each other laugh. Every day, we try to honor those sacred vows we made back in 1980. Good times and bad. Sickness and health. Richer or poorer. Til death do us part.
And every day, in little and big ways, my guy is my hero.
I’m convinced that if more men wanted to be heroes in their wives’ eyes, and more wives appreciated their efforts to do so, there would be a lot fewer divorces. But maybe that’s just me.
You know, I'm not the best at giving advice. I can't always find the right words to express what I'm thinking. But this post by Leila Marie Lawler, over at Like Mother, Like Daughter is a must-read on the subject of marriage and understanding husbands and their unique role in the family. It is so beautifully written, and gives such tremendously accurate advice on how to be happy in your marriage. (Adopt the "I'd rather be happy than right" philosophy; it's liberating and leads to peace and contentment!)
Another insightful piece I read on the subject of marriage comes from one of my favorite Catholic writers (and one of the Instagram voices I miss most since deleting my account), Elizabeth Foss, who has a regular column in the Arlington Catholic Herald (our diocesan newspaper in VA). An article that appeared there in August 2022 was titled, "Marry young?" This part in particular struck me as profoundly true, and important to remember in this "let's put off marriage (but not necessarily living together) until everything is perfect" world we live in: "The world tells young couples to get all their ducks in a row, to delay until they are secure. Life has taught me that the ducks never line up neatly and that security is only in faith, never in the tangible, touchable things of this world. The most seemingly secure job one day can be over the next day. The healthiest spouse on your wedding day can be battling cancer on your second anniversary. I lived that story. You don't get to write the script. God does. It's your job to improv along. Who do you want to do that with and why are you waiting to get started? Do you doubt that God will give you sufficient grace to do life together within the covenant of a sacramental marriage? Are you putting limits on what God can do in favor of the security you think the world can offer?"
I'm so glad that my husband and I figured out when we were very young that we wanted to do life--improvising as we went along--together, and that we wanted to get started doing so as soon as we possibly could. I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to meet the person with whom they will spend their life at 15, and then to be married at 22. But no matter what age you are, when you do meet that right person, don't wait until everything is “perfect” to begin your married life together. It never will be perfect, for this earthly life is not paradise by a long shot, it’s the proverbial valley of tears; but at least if you take that leap of faith you'll have a partner to share whatever burdens you must carry here. The main purpose of marriage is to help each other get to Heaven, and things that are really worth doing (and what it more worth doing than that?!) are never easy.
But it doesn't have to be so hard if you take this unsolicited that advice I said I'd never give (you've been warned!): ladies, marry someone who wants to be your hero. And then make him feel like one.
|In Rome, spring 2019 (an early 40th anniversary trip! Thank |
goodness we thought to take it before the world shut down!).
|At Notre Dame, his alma mater, in 2018.|