These are two pictures of Eric and I back in May of 1993, the week I flew out to Colorado so we could figure out what this “thing” was between us. The last day I was there, Eric said to me: “I think I’m falling in love with you.” And I said, “I have been trying to tell you the same thing all week.”
Six months later, exactly 18 years ago today, we got married. We eloped, getting married at the Evergreen Memorial Park in Evergreen Colorado. I asked him yesterday, and he said he’d marry me again.
This morning, when we were out walking the dogs, I asked him what he thought it took to stay married, and be content in that marriage, for 18 years. Our lists were almost identical.
Here’s what we know for sure: marry the right person. Eric says that’s half of what makes it work and I’d agree, start by making a good choice and you can withstand most of what might come later.
Some of it’s pure magic, something you just know in the pit of your stomach. But in some practical ways, the right person:
*Fits you physically. The issue here is that if you stay together long enough, you’ll eventually get old and saggy and maybe fat and you’ll know each others grossest habits, so you need something to start with that can sustain you, but also an acceptance that things evolve and change over time.
The first time I kissed Eric, I knew that he was it for me. I had already suspected so, but that sealed it. I felt like I was falling into him, and I didn’t want to come back out, ever. It was almost two years before I could be in the same room with him and not have to be touching him.
Over time, it becomes about more than the actual body, is the body of your experience with that person, someone you love so completely, who has been such a good friend to you–you just want to hold them, feel the warmth of their aliveness against you when it’s cold, reminding you again of love, comfort, possibility and promise.
*Balances out your strengths and weakness so that as a unit, you are functional. You are able to help each other manifest good things, to have a good life together. When a couple is mismatched, you can see it in all the ways that their lives seem to spin out and get stuck, those couples that are always fighting, frustrated, failing, that seem to have a black cloud hanging over them. Most of the time, Eric and I can be each others balance. He can be happy and cheer me up when I am depressed, I can be stable when he’s feeling impulsive. I can calm him when he’s worried, and he can comfort me when I’m hurt. Together, we are so much more than we would have been alone.
*Shares your values. Having the same ideas about money, kids, or religion will save you a lot of trouble, especially since for many people, these dearly held values aren’t something they’ll be willing or able to compromise. There is so much Eric and I agree on, and that builds a foundation, a safe place for the spots where we disagree.
*Someone who lets you be who you are, who supports and loves who you are. You don’t want a partner who micromanages you, but you also want them involved. I don’t have to like running to support Eric’s love of it, and he doesn’t have to practice yoga to appreciate what it does for me. We also don’t have to beat each other up when we are struggling. We stay steady, strong, and silent if necessary. We celebrate the success, and we comfort the struggle.
*Makes time for you, is present. Being with you, knowing you, being connected is a priority, a necessity. Pays attention and can see when you need help.
*Wants the best for you, wants you to be happy and alive. Doesn’t have to understand entirely or agree to let you have, be, do what you need–unless, of course, what you need is someone else, abusive or illegal 🙂
*Makes you laugh. Eric is able to do this so well and I can’t really explain it. It’s not that he’s super funny, but he’s funny to me. And he loves to make me laugh, so is always trying. For example, last night, we were following a car with the license plate “MIDWIF,” and he said “midwhiff?” and cracked me up. Encouraged, he read the license plate frame, which said “Honk if you are having a home birth” and said, in the goofiest voice, “I’m having one right now!” It didn’t even really make any sense, but it cracked me up.
*Isn’t mean. You treat each other with basic kindness. For example, I told Eric once I hated to come to bed when he was already asleep and it was dark, something about it depressed me. So you know what he does if he gets in bed before me? He turns on my book light and leaves it on my pillow. And he leaves me love notes all the time, just to cheer me up.
*Is able to commit. All in, sticking around, willing to keep at it, not looking or waiting for something “better.”
I can’t say what might work for you, don’t mean for this to be some kind of advice or set of rules to be married by, but these are the things that have kept me in it, all in, for the past 18 years.
- Like yesterday, dear, kind and gentle reader, when I wished for you your own Kelly, today I wish for you your own Eric.
Oh Jill, you are so smart! All the things I see in my marriage I have read here today. Kurt and I are a few years behind you but look forward to celebrating 18 some day (although we might be using walkers and taking our teeth out at night–ha ha!). Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. I am so lucky to have a “Kelly” and “Eric!”
It goes so much faster than you think it will, Cat. And I am so glad you have all that you have. It makes me so happy to think of you with your happy family, girls and pup included.
great advice – makes me think i need to evaluate who i’m with right now (LOL) – so glad the universe led me to your blog 🙂
I’m glad too.
Beautiful! What a testament to not only married couples but for the single ones! xx
Thanks, Clare 🙂
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