When I was a teenager who knew everything, adults who seemed ancient to me at age 55 or 60 kept talking about how tough marriage was. When I knew everything, I wondered why these people stayed married then. After all – if it’s so hard, just make it easy and don’t stay married. Go get a life that’s easy. That’s what I thought when I knew everything. After 48 years of marriage, and now well over the age of 60 myself, I still don’t know everything. But there are a few things I know for sure.
Marriage is hard work. It’s the hardest relationship you will ever have and it’s also the most valuable and most rewarding. I can tell you after 48 years there were many exit ramps that looked pretty enticing. From a distance, all lit up they looked lot more like fun than the ordinary highway I was on with Tim Anderson – the stable, sensible, solid adult.
I can’t prove it, but on Tim’s route, he probably saw some amazing exit ramps himself that would have taken him in the opposite direction from me – the one who could never make up her mind, had a new job for every season, and was always, and I do mean always late. “But I use all my minutes,” I complained. “So much time is wasted when getting any place early.”
Every year Tim gets me a flower for every year we’ve been married. This year that is 4 roses and 44 carnations. [for the math challenged, that’s 48] But this year he had a plaque made for me with an engraved brass heart attached above his own words.
If you are married or thinking of getting married, expect hard work. Expect more compromise than you ever imagined. Expect to be more flexible than the most agile gymnast – and expect to use that agility with deep breathing – often. Expect to disagree and expect that sometimes your disagreements will break the sound barrier. Stay – stay the course – because it’s worth it. It gets better. So much better.
I’d like to say it’s been a picnic in the park, and I guess it has been if you count the charcoal that won’t start, the fire ants, hornets, and thunderstorms. There were times just like that, but then there has been a profusion of times when the sun was out, the water calm, and the fun plentiful, seasons so vibrant nothing could contain the joy of being in this relationship together.
When we meet people socially and the conversation turns to the familiar: What do you do? Where do you live? How long have you been married? Silence! Then “Whoa!” they say. “That’s a long time.” Yes, yes it is. It’s a long time. They ask if there is a secret? Does commitment count? Does hard work qualify? There is no sabbatical from relationship building.
So, after 48 years are, we like two peas in a pod? Uh, not even close! A bean pod and a pea pod, maybe. But we are content pods. More and more often, one of us brings up a thought that just moments before the other had in their mind. How does that happen?
There is nothing better now than spending an absolutely boring night at home or spending time with friends we’ve shared for a lifetime. Sometimes the best, more comforting answer to “What do we have to do today” is “Nothing.”
We share the same faith and love the same God. We have a well-loved family of nine (children and grandchildren) and it is the best feeling in the word to be together. When our family comes to visit, we get to enjoy time together as one collective family. We wanted this for our family from the moment we said, I do. I know this luxury is one that many of my friends don’t have. I don’t take that for granted – ever.
Life is never perfect. We have been through deep sadness, near death illnesses, and financial hardship. We got through them, not because of who we are, but because God planted love in our hearts and we worked hard, still work hard, to cultivate forgiveness, acceptance, empathy, and understanding. The joy outweighs everything else and it’s cumulative.
Do you remember the poem you memorized in elementary school? Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better becomes best. The longer Tim and I are together the good becomes better and the better keeps becoming best.