Beverly Godfrey column: 25 years adds up to advice on marriage
Is getting married in 1995 and still being married in 2020 enough reason to dish out advice? Here's hoping it is.
My husband made an appointment last week to have our septic tank pumped. The first available appointment was July 8, but he declined the date and took the next day instead. July 8 will be our 25th wedding anniversary, and he thought I wouldn't like it if the sewage truck showed up that day.
He's right. I would not have liked that. It was one of those moments when I realize again that for the most part, he gets me.
I feel like by this point, I should have stored up some good advice about marriage, but I'm not sure that I have any. For one thing, it doesn't feel like we've been married that long. And as for wise decisions, it was one I made when I was 24, so "wisdom" must have been bolstered at least a little by luck.
Nevertheless, I'm going to try.
One, don't be hard on yourself if your marriage doesn't last forever. Yes, I'm proud that we'll be celebrating 25 years of marriage, but that's because we're happy together. If that luck I mentioned had turned out differently, if we had recognized that we'd be better off not married anymore, we would have done that. If that happened to you, I congratulate you on doing what was best despite it being difficult.
Two, don't expect to be happy all the time. Ups and downs are part of the human condition, whether we're talking about a marriage or job or — dare I say? — having a baby. Recognize those down times for what they are: unpleasant and temporary. It's when it's feeling not-so-temporary that I'd refer you to my first piece of advice.
Three, don't set traps. For example, I don't want my husband to forget our anniversary. Consequently, I have said to him numerous times in recent weeks: "Our anniversary is coming up. It's July 8. It will be 25 years." I want him to know this information. I don't care if he remembers it on his own. If he forgot, it would hurt my feelings. I know this, so I am helping us both. Would he forget? I doubt it. But there's nothing wrong with making sure.
But, you may ask, isn't it more romantic if he remembers it on his own? No. It's more romantic for me to remind him instead of silently side-eyeing him for weeks and then being mad all day and forever if he forgets. Also, there was a year both of us legit forgot about the day. It was, like, No. 8 or something. In that case, we obviously both didn't care, so it was no problem.
Four, be prepared to do all the housework. This one might work only if, again, the aforementioned luck is on your side. You both need to be hardworking and sincerely trying to help each other. If you're doing that, and you think the carpet needs vacuuming, do it yourself. Wash the dishes. Clean the toilet. Feed the kids. Walk the dog. If it rose to the level of your notice, then do it. If your first thought is to do the math on who has washed more dishes, then I'd say there are other problems.
Don't fight about that stuff; just do it yourself and trust that your partner is also working hard, probably doing a lot of things you don't even notice.
Five, ask for help when you need it. This pairs nicely with the previous advice because nobody here is trying to be a martyr. Also, offer to help when it seems needed.
Six, don't worry about thoughtless moments. Maybe your partner got you the same gift two birthdays in a row. Bought an ice cream flavor you don't like. Rented a movie, forgetting you'd already watched it together. None of this reflects on affection. It's just that we can all have moments of stupidity, "forgive us our trespasses," as it were.
What a glorious gift you can give your partner to forgive these things, and really, it's a gift to yourself because then you can sometimes be the dummy who forgot. I'll remind you that when I said earlier that my husband "gets me," I prefaced it with "for the most part."
We don't have plans for our anniversary day. We'll be home with the kids. Maybe we'll leave them home and get takeout to eat on a beach. We like getting a gas-station Icee and going for a drive. He has joined the Fortnite bandwagon, so we could play some duos together. I suggested we both dye our hair silver for our silver anniversary, but he declined.
I was just kidding, though; I know he'd never do that. Because for the most part, I get him, too.
Beverly Godfrey is features editor of the News Tribune. Write to her at email@example.com.