6 Years

As I write, it’s December 21st.  The end of the Mayan calendar.  The winter solstice.  And, our 6th wedding anniversary–aka, “17 ½ years since our first date.”

Pat and I are apart today.  He is in Columbus for the unveiling of a guitar he’s been building.  I am left alone to ponder our six years together as a married couple.

The most repeated question my husband has asked me for the past 17 ½ years is, “Why do you love me.”  In honor of our sixth anniversary, here are six reasons I love my husband.

  1. We have things in common.  Having something we both love to share makes staying connected a little easier.  This was taken last year at one of the knobs in the Cherokee National Forest when we went to Snowbird Lodge for Thanksgiving weekend.

    Standing on a Knob in Cherokee National Forest just outside of Great Smokey National Park

    Standing on a Knob in Cherokee National Forest just outside of Great Smokey National Park

  2. He’s willing to try things because I like them.  Sometimes, we have divergent interests.  But Pat can rally around part of one of my interests and share some of it.  For example, he can’t get into birds in general, but he really loves raptors.  This allowed him to enjoy a Raptor Experience, which was a dream for me and of only slight interest to him.  I love when he doesn’t just “suffer through,” but genuinely enjoys something he would have never done if he didn’t love me.

    Pat holding Artie, a physically challenged Barred Owl that cannot survive in the wild.

    Pat holding Artie, a physically challenged Barred Owl that cannot survive in the wild.

  3. He loves dogs.  It’s not about the dog as much as it’s about the man.  A man who cannot empathize with creatures dependent on humans are usually men who are insecure, brutal, or psychopathic.  While there may be other reasons not to like dogs, it’s not something I can really understand.

    Pat cuddling Tisen shortly after he came to live with us.

    Pat cuddling Tisen shortly after he came to live with us.

  4. He enjoys learning new things.  My husband is a rare combination of inventor and explorer.  He loves to tinker, experiment, figure out.  Occasionally, he takes on a new adventurer.  When we moved to Chattanooga, he repeatedly mentioned hang gliding–he really wanted to learn.  In this case, I tried something new just because he wanted to.  We both had a great experience learning.  He swears he will fly again when he gets things more stable at his business.  I don’t really care.  I just enjoyed learning with him.

    Pat gets set for his first mountain launch.

    Pat gets set for his first mountain launch.

  5. He has a sense of humor.  This should probably be number one for me.  I am incapable of loving a man who has no sense of humor.  Fortunately for me, my husband is not only hilarious, but he thinks I’m funny at least half of the time I think I’m funny.  I can’t imagine spending my life with someone who never gets my jokes.

    How many husbands would understand why this shot was funny when originally posted with a bunch of photos of the moon?

    How many husbands would understand why this shot was funny when originally posted with a bunch of photos of the moon?

  6. He’s so smart, he can solve anything.  He’s brilliant with any kind of mechanical issue.  This goes back to #4.  I often call him MacGyver.  He could escape captivity with a pack of matches, a stick of gum, and a string.  His brilliance is what I most admire about him.

    I don't have a photo of Pat problem solving, but can't you just see in his face that he's coming up with some new amazing invention?

    I don’t have a photo of Pat problem solving, but can’t you just see in his face that he’s coming up with some new amazing invention?

There you have it.  Six reasons I love my husband.

I love you, honey.  Thanks for sticking it out with me.

Winter Solstice Anniversary

Today is our wedding anniversary.  Of the 16 1/2 years we’ve been together, Pat and I have now been married for 5.  Yeah, I know, we were slow to decide to go mainstream.

We were married on the winter solstice in 2006.  I wish I had a great story to tell as to why we got married on the winter solstice, but, it was a complete accident.  It turned out to be a happy accident because had we gotten married on a day that didn’t have an event marked on most calendars, we would completely forget our anniversary.  Unfortunately, it took us a while to figure out the winter solstice doesn’t always fall on the 21st–there’s a good chance we celebrated our 1st anniversary on the wrong day.

Weathering the bad and the good together has been a remarkable experience.  When I think about the expectations I had in my twenties compared to the reality of a 16 1/2 year relationship, I sometimes laugh.  Our culture fills our heads with ridiculous expectations about head-over-heels romance–and simultaneously ignores how love shifts and grows, becoming more powerful over time.

Someone once pointed out to me that fairy tales–both traditional and the modern version (romantic movies)–end when the couple gets together.  All we are told is they “live happily ever after.”  I’m here to tell you that if “ever after” is supposed to mean they lived happily all of the time from that point forward, it ain’t happening.

People are not one dimensional.  We get cranky and scared and irritable and depressed and rude and angry in turn.  There’s no such thing as “a nice person” who isn’t also sometimes annoying, difficult, needy, bossy, or whatever.  And how we see the other person has as much to do with us as it does with them, which is also inconstant.

I often ask myself what makes a relationship work.  When I was young, I wanted fireworks and sweep-me-off-my-feet excitement.  Then I figured out fireworks fizzle and I prefer to walk, but a guy who will help with the laundry and cooking  makes every day better.

I can’t say I’ve really decided what makes a relationship work, but I’m honing in on it gradually.  Here’s my list so far:

1) Mutual respect and admiration.  It’s hard to put up with someone’s foibles if you don’t respect and admire them as they are.  The parts you respect and admire keep you sane when the parts you want to kill surface.  🙂

2) Laughter.  It’s OK if you don’t always get each other’s jokes, but you’ve got to get most of them.

3)  Adventure.  Life can get pretty darn repetitive.  Having some form of adventure together helps keep it interesting.

4) Patience.  Not the kind of patience you have to have for children, but patience with yourself, your life, your spouse.  The patience that allows you to wait and see when you start to get afraid or angry.  The patience that allows you to love each other for who you are in all of your dimensions.