“This change of times won’t drag you away.” U2
Twenty years ago today, I did something shocking. I did something many friends and family members bet good money I’d never do…walk down an actual aisle and get married. Marc and I had been together seven years and we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we’d found the love of our lives.
Everyone gave us five years, three if I cooked.
But then we did something really crazy.
We stayed married. Happily.
I use the word “married” lightly. Oh, we’re legal all right, even though I initially put his ring on the wrong finger. We just don’t have a typical marriage, not by any means. Marriage is an institution, like a psychiatric hospital. Neither of us wanted to live with those kinds of constraints. We started with the ceremony, writing the service and vows ourselves… and kept going. For the next two decades, we made our own traditions and rituals, with copious amounts of honesty and kindness, and somehow it’s working well for us.
Even after I learned to cook.
I’d never give anyone advice or suggest our formula works universally, but when someone asks how we’ve managed to stay together for so long, without winding up in jail or hell, this is what I tell them:
Marc and I are friends, with benefits.
We’re the only people we thoroughly enjoy, full time.
We’re polite to one another.
We don’t make unreasonable requests.
We don’t say no. Ever.
I’m laidback. He’s sensitive. We balance each other out.
We enjoy sex. A lot.
Mutual respect, it goes a long way. So does a sense of humor.
We are free to explore the world on our own terms, in every way imaginable, and the post-game analysis when we eventually make our way back home is amazing.
We have open minds, free spirits, and very few rules.
We don’t say, “Here’s to another 20 years!” We say, “This has been fun…let’s keep going.”
Neither one is interested in owning the other.
He’s not intimidated by my drive.
I’m not intimidated by his intelligence.
We’re the only two people on the planet who enjoyed Eyes Wide Shut and the last episode of Seinfeld.
When I’m fiery or passionate, about anything from local politics to clothes left on the floor, he makes fun of me. That’s it. I’m immediately over it, laughing until I can’t breathe. It’s probably my favorite thing about him.
He loves that I embrace life and only say “I ought to do this” once, because then I do it.
He’s never met anyone like me.
I’m glad he still appreciates that.
We want the other to be happy. Period. There is no but or however.
He loves me when I’m strong and when I’m vulnerable, when I’m peaceful and when I’m seeking vengeance, when I’m heartbroken and when I’m victorious.
I love him all the time, too. Even when he puts his sneakers on the dresser.
I’m totally full of shit about the sneakers.
We got past those awkward five minutes when I liked Lightning Seeds and he liked Information Society.
We understand each other.
He digs strong women and not just when he agrees with them. He’s the only person I’ve ever met who can say that.
Really, after all this time, I’m not sure why it works. I just know that it does.
Perhaps this sums it up:
I keep blinds and shutters closed, curtains drawn, lights off almost all the time. I get this habit from my mother. Nana called her “Mrs. Mole” so I guess that makes me “Ms. Mole.”
When Marc comes home, he turns the lights on. Every time.
He greets the kids, who still go downstairs to say hello and give hugs, everyone asking how everyone’s day has been going. In my best Donna Reed impersonation, dressed in running shorts instead of a skirt, I give kisses and ask about life outside my bubble.
In so many ways, Marc shines a light on our lives and my world would be too dark without him.
Let’s keep going.
Happy Anniversary, partner.