This week I celebrated my 25th Wedding Anniversary with my lovely wife, Laura. Although it seems I have made it to 25 years DESPITE myself rather than BECAUSE of myself, I nonetheless take pride in this accomplishment, one which a majority of Americans will never know. It is not with an attitude of arrogance or with the intention of bragging that I say that almost everyone I know has been married more than once and divorced at least once; I simply can not say that. This was my first and, God willing, my last. I say this not only to praise my wife for raising me right and refusing to allow me the opportunities to screw up my marriage too much, but to illustrate another concept involved here that can lead to a valuable discussion of thought processes: Consistency. Laura and I have lasted 25 years (despite my original wedding party betting we would not make it 6 months, a year, or five years) because of consistency of thought. Simple as that. Allow me to explain.
When Laura and I got married, we made some promises to each other beyond our wedding vows. One of those promises was that we would never utter the “D” word in our home. The escape hatch of divorce is one of the major plagues besieging young couples today. In our disposable society with our “I want to be happy now” mentalities, it is very easy for young people to make the mistake of not realizing that “love” is not so much a feeling, but rather a choice. When I first met Laura we were both young, healthy, idealistic, HAWT! But the years have taken their toll. Some of our idealism has been beaten into pessimism or, at the very least, realism. Our bodies ache, pop, and creak when we wake up in the morning. We have the bodies of people in their fifties now and not those we started with in our twenties. When I look at Laura, I do not see the young hottie I married; that is a ridiculous thing that people say. I see a fifty-something woman who is growing older. Now, before she gets angry at me while she is reading this, let me explain my comments.
Any person who expects their spouse to be the same person 10, 20, 30 years down the road has unrealistic expectations of their relationship and that relationship is doomed to fail. I once knew a young woman who woke up every morning before her husband so she could dispense with the morning toiletries and grooming. She would make herself “beautiful”, then crawl back into bed to wake him up as if she had just woken up herself. She did not want him to see her in her natural state because she wanted to keep the appearance of the fantasy alive. In my opinion, that is not what love should be based upon. Rather, love is based on the concept of breaking those barriers and surviving them together and CHOOSING to keep running the race together regardless of those changes.
When I look at Laura, I see a different person. I see a person who has stretch marks and extra “body”, a sacrifice she made to give birth and life to our daughter. I see a grey-haired woman who pays top dollar every six weeks to get her hair dyed, and I am quite sure that most of those grey hairs came from the stress of being my wife and trying to make a life out of the little I have brought to the arrangement. I see a warden who, over the years, has learned how to hold a mirror to my stubborn face and show me that what I am doing, despite my yahoo bullheadedness, is not the right thing for our long-term success and maybe I should think about this. I see the woman who grabs my dreams and researches the details, details, details… to make my dream a reality. I see the woman who, even when I had NO clue what I was doing and had NO confidence that God would take care of us when I lied and told her I had received confirmation that God wanted us to do this, stood beside me and said she would follow me anywhere… and then made it work for us with His help.
Years ago we got an old leather-topped coffee table that had belonged to my grandparents. This coffee table had burn marks on top where my grandfather’s cigars and my grandmother’s cigarettes had burned holes in the leather. Laura said several times that she would like to have the table’s leather redone, but I refused. In the circles left by the whiskey glasses, the marks left by the cigars and cigarettes, in the gouges left by the letter opener I played with as a child, I saw scars on that table that told stories and created a tale of a life that had been lived by people who had experienced it together.
To me, consistency in thought is the key. Standing steadfast against the storms of life that beat against the doors and windows and refusing to allow the daily attacks to erode your resolve to do what you know is right and making the choice to stand by that decision is the only way to survive. When I look at Laura, this is what I see. After 25 years, I do not see a beautiful, young, sexy thing. I see a part of me that has consistently withstood the trials of life and yet remained true and has stayed the course. To me, that is more beautiful and sexy than anything else in this world, and the stories we can tell! I think I will keep that old coffee table.