41 years ago today, I got to marry my best friend.We were young, 21 and 22 years old. In fact I was 20 when we applied for the marriage license and had to get my parents to sign off on it. We were young and full of great dreams of what married life would be like. Little did we know on that day, what would ly ahead over the first 2 years.
Our first 2 years of marriage, my mother-in -law died, we lost a baby, my mom died, and my dad died within the year of my mom passing. They were all so young, in there 50’s.About a year before my mom died we lost a baby from an ectopic pregnancy. I had to have surgery and was told that we may not be able to have kids as it would be harder to get pregnant due to the surgery.
So much loss in those first 2 years of marriage. And yet we continued to muddle through each day going to work and coming home. The stress was high just learning how to live together day in and day out. We argued, we fought, we made compromises, we made up and the days passed by.
Shortly after losing the first baby, I became pregnant again. The ultrasound showed the baby was in the right spot and was growing perfectly. It was exciting and I was so thrilled to tell my mom and dad. We all celebrated.
I was due the following June and it was November when my mom got terminal cancer. The following January, I was sitting on her bed at the hospital as she lay there dying. She was in and out of sleep and consciousness. Tears were flowing down my face as I watched her labored breathing, knowing she wouldn’t ever get to meet her grandbaby. She woke up and reached out and put her hands on my stomach. She smiled and all she could say was, “It’s a girl” and fell back asleep. As her hands were on my stomach, the baby gave a good kick and wiggle. That night when I got home and had gone to bed, I received the call that my mom had passed peacefully in her sleep. A few months later our healthy baby girl was born.
While the first few years were filled with a lot of sorrow and sadness, the next years were a whirlwind of having 3 more kids all 18 months to 2 years apart. Our lives were full of activities and just plain busy keeping food on the table and shoes on their feet. The two of us would always laugh when we thought of the awful outlook we were given regarding getting pregnant. We just smile as we watch our kids raising their kids. We sit back and smile realizing what an incredible life we have had so far.
Our marriage has been full of sorrows and blessings and oftentimes just mundane day to day living. Have we had marital issues, arguments, all out fights? You bet we have! So what is the secret of keeping a marriage together 41 years?
I guess there are a few things I can think of that have made it work. The first is getting to marry your best friend. Not that we were best friends the day we said “I Do” on our wedding day. We were still discovering stuff about each other and learning to live together. But as each day would go by, we became friends, really good friends. As life’s ups and downs happened, we shared the journey together. We turned to each other and became best friends. We came to rely on each other for honesty, and comfort.
The other thing that has kept us together all these years is how we set the table. Not the dining table, but the marriage table. It is a matter of what we choose to use as the centerpiece. Just like a beautifully set Thanksgiving table, it is all about the centerpiece. Where the eyes land first. Is there a great turkey setting there, or maybe a flower arrangement? Whatever is the centerpiece will be what will be focused on.
Through all the years of our marriage, we have had several changes of centerpieces on our marriage table. But there is one thing that we have never had. And that is divorce. In our marriage, early on, we made a deal that divorce would never be an option. In doing that, we have had to reach for a lot of side-dishes, like talking it over, arguing, giving in to what was not important and lots and lots of heaping helpings of compromise. By removing divorce as a centerpiece, we always could get filled up on the side dishes. Divorce was never an option so we always had to find another solution.
41 years have gone by. There is little arguing left and mostly our time is spent chatting about life, hobbies, family and the dogs. We are best friends and know the other down to the core of who they are.
I have been so blessed to be able to say I am married to my best friend. I look forward to years ahead. Every person should have the opportunity to marry their best friend. Or become best friends along the way.