13 years ago today, I took a walk down the aisle, joined hands with my lover and became his wife. Each year that passes seems so surreal to us, "can it really have been this long" we ask ourselves, "it must be."
I remember the first time I met him. It was one of those leading man meets leading lady movie sequence moments, the edges of my vision blurred and I'm pretty sure I heard "Dreamweaver". (although he didn't hear "Dreamweaver" until he laid eyes on me again a year later)
When I looked at him, I knew. I said a silent prayer, "God, please, let me marry THIS man. If not this man, then one exactly like him." Neither one of us yet 17, I was no woman and he was no man. I saw what he could be, and what I could be, together with him.
Friends and acquaintances have asked us for the "secret" to our success, but we've never really had an answer to that question. We have certain rules we live by, and principles we've stuck to over the years. I think in honor of our 13th anniversary, I'll list 13 of them.
1. Be Best Friends. You can only have one best friend, and it should be your mate. Have close friends, have cherished friends, have treasured friends, but only 1 best friend. If something good happens, or if something bad happens he's the first person I want to tell and vice verse.
2. Fight Fair. When you are in the midst of an argument, stay on topic, or the issue at hand. Don't go back to 6 months ago and dredge up some shit the other person did to piss you off, it's counterproductive. Don't be childish, immature or abusive. No name calling. Don't deal in absolutes (You always or you never...).
3. Guys or Girls Only Nights "Out" In Moderation. We all need time to commiserate with members of our sex, but in moderation. Spending too much time away from your mate in a bar/party atmosphere might lead to trouble. (I said "might" don't hate on me, if you've always done it and it works for you)
4. Fuck Your Problems Away. It's true. Don't laugh. It works. Annoyance leads to frustration, frustration leads to tension, tension leads to problems. Tension can be eliminated with a good old fashioned headboard banging, wall pounding good time!
5. Don't Go To Bed Angry. This is our version of what our grandparents always said... "Don't let the sun go down on your anger." We've interpreted it to mean, not literally, "don't go to sleep until you've resolved it" but rather, "don't let an argument/disagreement go unresolved." It may take 24 hours - but we talk about it, resolve it and come to a conclusion or a solution.
6. Be a Team. Don't fall into the old bullshit trap of "that's a woman's job" or "that's man's work". Work together. Every marriage has delegated "his and hers" chores, but that doesn't mean the other can't do them.
7. Don't Betray Your Spouse. It would seem obvious, but sharing things about your spouse to another person (faults, secrets, shortcomings etc) is a betrayal. It's also inviting a third person into your marriage and it's not good.
8. Date One Another. Hold hands, laugh, talk just like you used to, before you got married. Pass notes, write poems, send texts, buy flowers, buy lingerie.....
9. Balance Each Other Out. Ralph is very methodical in his decision making, he carefully examines all possible outcomes and analyzes every detail before making a decision. I, on the other hand, think on my feet. Somehow, it just works out that we fill in the gap for the other person.
10. Have hobbies. Have things you do by yourselves and together. Fulfilling your interests makes you a happier, unique person and a better mate to your spouse.
11. Limit Your Distractions. Limit the amount of time you spend on things that might distract you from spending time with your loved one. (i.e. video/computer games, internet surfing, television shows, texting, sporting events etc) These types of things in excess make the other person feel undervalued and alone.
12. Learn and Grow From Your Mistakes. You're going to have times where you missed the mark. Both of you. Sometimes singularly, sometimes jointly. Learn from those mistakes, evolve, move on. See mistakes as an opportunity to grow and be a better couple.
13. Keep Things Simple. We have never been able to understand why friends (and some family) we've had over the years go to such extremes in celebrating holidays, birthdays and special occasions. We prefer to treasure day to day, life moments as gifts instead of expensive gifts