When a child reaches 18, it is a momentous milestone. You transition from childhood into adulthood, thrust into the world of “grown up’s” where your parents sigh a breath of relief that they survived and, hopefully, succeeded in raising you well. So what about a marriage that is turning 18? In my eyes I feel as though it should also be marked with bells and whistles, cheers and congratulations of surviving marriage adolescence. From this point does it improve like a fine wine, or mature cheese?
Like a sailboat, my husband and I are cruising past this anniversary nonchalantly with very little merriment. We will go to dinner, a little more up market than usual, because that is what is expected. We’ll exchange cards, although finding one year after years grows increasingly difficult. I stand for a ridiculously long time, opening and closing the endless selection at Hallmark…rolling my eyes. “If only”, I say to myself over and over replacing the card back to where I pulled it from. “Do people really feel this way? Why don’t I feel this way?” Deflated I scour the “simply stated” section or stumble on a humorous card if I am lucky, or when all else fails I have resorted to the “blank” section on more than one past occasions. There are no gifts to be exchanged, no surprises, no breathtaking moments to share and definitely no risk of being swept away in a romantic fairytale. After 18 years of marriage I have finally managed to accept something, I have absolutely no expectations other than the steak I will eat tonight, because I know Flemings will not disappoint me. I no longer look upon this date with the weight of what a wedding anniversary brings, I choose instead to look upon it as a birthday of us saying “i do”.
After being together for this long there is very little you do not know about a person. I like my husband, I am comfortable with him, and he knows most, if not all, of my secrets. Even though I fought it for many, many years, he has evolved into a trusted friend. I am proud of the life we have built together, the two amazing children we have raised, and everything that we have provided for them. I have learned not to say things are missing from our relationship anymore, because after all these years I have finally come to realize that one cannot miss things that were never there to begin with. Yes, things are absent from us, but because they have never been there, I have come to the conclusion that it is unfair to constantly get let down or upset because of this. I now know that it is not from his lack of desire, it is purely lack of knowledge. I cannot expect him to be something he is not or expect him to behave in a way which is unknown to him. He is who he is; 20 years ago when I met him that was enough.
In my eyes an anniversary should be a time when a man surprises his wife and does things to remind her of why she picked him. Because she did in fact pick him. He asked and she agreed. It is a time for him to dig deep into his emotional pockets, where it counts most to his female companion, and pull out all that sentimental shit that she needs to see and hear. In my eyes anniversaries were specifically created so that a man could fill his wife up with all these amazing reminders, and make her heart full to the point of nearly bursting so that she can endure and survive yet another year of being married to him. Perhaps this is my adolescence view rearing its head. Perhaps it is an unrealistic interpretation, maybe even selfish. Women are far harder, and more complicated than men. For instance, my husband on the other hand used to be quite satisfied with my new purchase from Victoria Secrets or Fredrick’s of Hollywood. But even then the enormity of that gesture often goes unnoticed. Women don’t just put those pretty things on by accident. We plan ahead, shop for them, and take great effort to pick them out. We take the time to wear the right outfit, slipping them under our clothes, and for the entire evening we feel sexy, the soft touch of satin against our skin, while the seductive thoughts of how our husband will discover his “gift” later on plays upon our minds. Even after 18 years the fact that I still do this should mean something, right? I shouldn’t feel that it is a waste of time, effort, and money just because my husband may fail to even notice his anniversary “gift” this year.
Regardless, we should celebrate that we have made it this far and that we still like each other. We still work very well together and if financial circumstances didn’t dictate our little company’s future, we would most likely continue working together. He is calm where I am stormy, and I am structured where he is unorganized. We have so much to be thankful for over the past 18 years, and it truly has passed in a blink of an eye. It is okay to come to terms with the fact that our relationship has changed, and that we are changing as individuals. We have not failed, have not been defeated, nor given up. Our relationship has grown up and transitioned into adulthood, and at the end of the day that deserves to be celebrated. So happy 18th birthday of the day we said I do….