On January 13th, it will be our 15th wedding anniversary.
15 years is a long time. At 24, we stood before family, friends, and G-d and promised to love one another. We promised to put our marriage first. We made this promise under the premise of love can conquer all. We were young and stupid, or were we?
We have friends that are divorced. We have family that is divorced. Some divorced after a few years and some after more than 10. Marriage is hard as hell. Divorce looms around every corner and I have no idea what causes some marriages to fail and others to survive, but I know we have made it.
Our marriage is no stranger to tough times. Our marriage has withstood financial problems more than once, my cancer diagnosis and treatment and thank G-d - remission, burying our still-born son, adopting both our daughters, the incarceration of my husband's father and all that was and is currently happening due to that, our youngest daughter's delays, our oldest daughter's anxiety, deaths of family members and family members on both sides not liking one of us.
On top of that ridiculous, made for TV drama, we have survived my husband's messy sink and nightstand that sends my organized A-type personality into a tail spin, my constant need to entertain not only my family but friends as well, my husband's inability to to take out the trash daily, my inability to grocery shop for under $300, my husband's inability to call when he is on his way home, my inability to understand that when he is at work he cannot always answer the phone, my inability to share the TV, his inability to communicate when his favorite football team is playing, my horrible PMS, and a slew of every day crap that is damn annoying to each of us.
We are not perfect. We do not have a perfect marriage. We get mad. We argue. We disagree. We have gone to bed angry. We really know how to push each other's buttons. And we are exceptionally good at pushing those buttons.
15 years later I can tell you we love each other. We share the same values and passion for family. We both put our family first and we both understand it looks differently. I put my family first when my annoying entertaining creates memories and traditions for our girls, for us. He puts our family first when he works twelve hour days to ensure our financial safety. My husband travels when he is not working twelve hour days. Those days when he is out of town, I take care of the girls and our home alone. It is not perfect, but it is what it is. This is our marriage. We sacrifice. We compromise. We understand. We each work separately and together to secure our future, together.
We put each other first, then our girls, then everyone else. Sometimes he takes the lead and I lean on him. Sometimes I take the lead and he leans. We need each other. There are times we know how much we need each other and yes, there are times we think we can do it alone.
There is no secret to a happy marriage. There is just work. Work that never ends. Being a wife is harder than teaching 180 at risk students. As a teacher, I ran my own show. As a wife, I have a co-teacher. My husband runs his own company, he is the boss. At home, he has a co-boss. We are both leaders. We are both strong-willed. We are both fighters. While sharing decision making is not easy, we do it. We do it knowing someone typically "loses."
There is no "winning" in marriage either. There are discussions, conversations that take place and two personalities and opinions collide. One of them comes out on top. I have made decisions for our girls that he was not 100% on board with, he has made financial decisions that I am not 100% on board with, but the decisions are made and we are not angry when our opinion/advice is not the "winning" one. Both of us cannot get our way. It doesn't work like that. The solutions are made based on facts and one of us is more knowledgeable about those facts- that opinion has more weight. It just does. We cannot both be the expert on everything.
In 15 years, we have learned that date night is important even when the week leading up to it is so aggravating that when we finally sit down at the table one of us admits to being an ass so we can move on.
In 15 years, we have learned to laugh at everything. Our humor is sick, twisted, and dark. If you cannot laugh, you will cry. We will find the humor in everything thrown our way. We were the only two people laughing in the waiting room when I had cancer. Like I said, we find the humor.
In 15 years, we have learned to be patient. I am patient when he is stressed and over worked (every day) and he is patient when I am obsessive and annoying (every day).
In 15 years, we have learned we are no longer the 24 year old bride and groom standing under the chuppah. We are 40 (and almost 40) years old and have created a family, a life, a marriage that has lasted well beyond the reception.
We are full of life, we seize the moment to be happy, we laugh, we love. We have experienced the depths of profound sadness and relished in the rainbows after the storm.
Fifteen years ago, I could have never predicted all that we would go through. And given the chance, knowing what I know now, I would marry my husband again. His smile, his gorgeous eyes, and his unwavering stubborn, fight for what you believe in personality is what I loved and still love about him.
Our good days, our great days, our bad days, our mediocre days have created 15 years of a marriage that we will not stop fighting for. We will continue to love each other and know that love after all this time does not look like it did on our wedding night, it looks better.