Andrea and I were married on March 29th, 1986, so that makes today our 28th wedding anniversary. This is what we looked like walking down the aisle:
Oh. My. Stars! How young!
She was just 19 and I was more on the 25 side of 24. I was in the Navy at the time and though beards aren’t allowed I grew mine while on leave for a month.
Now, it really doesn’t seem like 28 years. Hell, I don’t think I’m almost 53 until I get too close to the mirror. Or get out of bed. Still, 28 years, four sons, 15 moves, five states and two countries, three “careers” for me and I’ve lost count of how many for Andrea… Blur sums it up.
But no matter my compressed perspective of time, it has been 28 years. I thought I’d share some unsolicited “wisdom” on what has worked for us – not an exhaustive list, but a few tips…starting with…
We like each other
‘struth…we do. Our love has matured over time and while we always love each other, we also like each other.
We like the people we were…the people we’ve become…the history we’ve shared. We like to spend time together. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be with, but we also…
Give each other space
Somehow over the past 28 years, we’ve melded from two very different people into a couple that tells the same stories (and we have a lot of stories, so it’s not a matter of a thin resume), sometimes finishes the other’s sentences, and occasionally actually thinks alike.
But we don’t have to be with each other all the time nor have to do the same things. Recognizing that is important.
For example, we’ll watch a few television series together, but I sometimes like campy sci-fi and Andrea can’t help but roll her eyes. And Andrea watches things that I can’t help but…leave the room for. Where we have a problem is with me not watching a movie the second time before I watch it the first time. It’s hardwired into my brain but I’m too critical and can’t see past the myriad of flaws, whereas she immerses herself into a movie, even if it isn’t that good. I envy that sometimes. Usually, the second time through I’ve worked out the frustration. Except with Peter Jackson. And J.J. Abrams. Don’t get me started.
Anyway…it’s just as important to have separate interests as to have similar…probably more so. I think it would get dull very fast if we did nothing separately; only had identical interests. Andrea has re-invented herself pretty much everywhere we’ve lived – that’s the nature of her personality…sales person, business owner, teacher, artist…add home school parent and that’s a grossly short list. But no matter what she’s done, she’s always been true to herself. She changed her last name to Razinha when we got married and then changed it back to Davis seven years later. I still remember a co-worker asking me, “You let her do that?”
Excuse me??? What’s this “let” stuff? She makes up her own mind. Always has. And I love that about her. Names, wedding bands (neither of us have our originals) … changing doesn’t bother me at all. Why should it?
Now, I am less dynamic with the makeovers than she is, but I do have my quirky interests and am always reading subjects that challenge my paradigms. My “space” is in my head. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t bother…Denny Crane said it better.
Still, while we give each other that space, the bottom line is that we…
Support each other
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But it’s more than encouragement. We know when to push and when to hold back and when to just “be there”. It wasn’t always that way, but as with so many elements of a long-term relationship, you just learn.
I’m going to admit to being a curmudgeon at times (and if anyone quotes me…children, this means you…I’ll delete this paragraph!), and can be somewhat resistant to change. No matter what, I support whatever Andrea wants for herself and she does the same for me. But it goes beyond support, because we both…
Concentrate on the most important relationship
We love our children very much, but when they are gone from the house and living their own lives, it’s just us. Even with the miracle of Facebook.
We take time for ourselves now because we want to stay connected…for now and for later. I can’t articulate well enough how important that is. Date nights. Vacations. Even pedestrian trips to the store. Daily connections are a daily affirmation.
Someone once told me that I needed “buds”, and couldn’t understand when I said that I don’t. Oh, I have “buds”, but I need Andrea. And she needs me. We need each other because we…
Complement each other
Kids…that’s not a spelling mistake.
Despite what I said about us telling the same stories in “Give each other space”, we are still very different people. And yet we fit together. We like doing things together, but we don’t always have to do the same things, think the same way… and we shouldn’t have to.
We each have our strengths and taking advantage of that to build a solid relationship is pretty important. I lean toward the typical Mars personality and Andrea has a much higher emotional intelligence than I do. As such, I want to fix physical things, while Andrea fixes brain things. She cooks … I do laundry. She does the bills … I do the taxes. She decorates and fills the house … I decorate the outside for the holidays. She goes out on Sundays with the homeschool moms…I stay at home and host Disney with Dad. She buys huge, heavy mirrors after the fire, I … I am a pain in the ass when hanging them.
But while those strengths build off each other, don’t forget to …
Compliment each other
Goes with that support bit, but in a more subtle, yet affirming way. We don’t take each other for granted. And we acknowledge the little things that could too easily be passed over. Because it’s about…
Plain and simple.
We respect each other. I can’t see any relationship lasting when one doesn’t respect his or her partner. And the key that helps build and maintain that respect is that we…
Talk to each other
Probably the most important suitable-for-all-ages aspect of our relationship that I can share is that we talk (infer what you want for my innuendo, but the synonym for talk is also a very important component of a strong relationship).
And because we talk, we get through things. Disney ruined it for women and men, because we’re not all princesses or princes, and happiness takes a bit of effort. Talking is big – HUGE big – in making that work. I had the hardest time of anyone in the family in the aftermath of the fire and talking with Andrea got me over the hump.
And those giant heavy mirrors? Well, they have been known to invoke something I call “divorce angry”. After an appropriate cooling down period…we talk (helps me when the next mirror needs hanging…).
I like to talk. And I like my solitude. I just balance the need for each. I learn a lot from Andrea through talk. So far, mind-reading hasn’t panned out, so it’s what we’re stuck with.
And I nearly forgot…
So, so big… Andrea says I make her laugh every day. Sometimes, I think it’s on purpose. We each can make the other laugh. It’s an important part of our love. Andrea will laugh at my jokes, even if they’re bad. I know they are because she tells me (that’s the talking part we need to work on!). I love her wit. A sense of humor is another key to the longevity of our relationship.
I could write pages on this, but I’ve forgotten more than I know and these points are what stick with me.
So…where are we now? 28 years into the best thing that’s ever happened to both of us and looking for at least that many more. We like each other, want to be with each other, are okay with not being with each other all the time, like the same and different things, support each other and above all … talk to each other!