Yesterday was my wife Nina’s and my twelfth wedding anniversary. Nowadays, it seems like spending twelve years married to the same person without committing a homicide is fairly rare, and considering some of the problems we’ve had to work through over that time (internal and external), we do rather feel we’ve beaten the odds. So it’s kind of a big deal, certainly worthy of a celebration.
And what did we do yesterday to commemorate such a momentous occasion? Well … pretty much nothing.
I mean, we did exchange gifts … though I must admit in the most offhand way possible. The Supermodel left my gift in the middle of the kitchen table sometime in the afternoon, and in the evening (while she was getting Sean ready for bed) I semi-snuck out, nabbed it and replaced it with her gift, so she’d see it before washing her hair. (For the record, I got her a red Chinese-silk kimono-style robe, since the traditional twelfth-anniversary gift is silk or linen. The Supermodel, who doesn’t give a fig about such silly traditions, got me a DVD of Invictus. Both of us were pleased.)
And really, that was it. I washed dishes in the morning, and she dried the larger ones. I mixed Sean’s meds, and she handled most of his feedings. She watched the NFL conference championships, and I played Scrabble on the computer and made sure I’d finished organizing the spreadsheets for the upcoming Legends of Baseball draft. (See previous entry; yes, I’ve finally come up for air on that score.) And we had a little argument over how to manage Sean’s Social Security disability account, which did lead to straightening some things out. But there was no special dinner, no candlelight, no long evening of romance.
Which is okay. No, really.
In point of fact, that’s how we planned it. Over a week ago, I asked Nina about how she hadn’t mentioned the upcoming date, and she said she really didn’t want to do a whole lot. I felt the same way, but had been leery of saying anything because … well, you don’t want to give your wife the impression that the big date’s not important to you this time around, do you? Only it wasn’t – for either of us.
As to why it wasn’t … that’s a little more complicated. Basically, three reasons:
- Money’s been tight.
- We were tired.
- We were tired.
The first one is self-explanatory, I think, but it’s usually that way for us between mid-February (end of the gift-giving season) and late March (arrival of our tax refund); this year we splurged a little more at Christmas, so it arrived earlier. The second is because of that “gift-giving season” – between Thanksgiving and Washington’s birthday lie three of our birthdays, Christmas and Valentine’s Day in addition to our anniv – and we just decided to leave something in the tank for February 14.
And the third? If you’re a regular reader, you know how our lives have been. If you’re new, use the search box and type in “Leigh’s Disease” or “Mom” or “Congregational Journey” or just “stress.” Then fasten your seat belt, ‘cause it’s gonna be a ride …
In an odd way, maybe it’s a good thing that we can let the day just pass by once in a while. We’ve seen so many marriages splinter and collapse because of a loss of romance – and a lack of anything else to hold the couple together. We’ve had wonderfully romantic times in the past, and still do today, but it’s not the only weapon in our arsenal. More than that, we’ve come to depend on each other in so many ways that it would destroy both of us if we tried to function without the other one.
And even more than that, we’ve made a commitment– really, an interlocking set of commitments to ourselves, each other, our kids, our friends, our families, and most of all to God — to make this relationship work and last, no matter what it takes, or die in the attempt. (Which some days seems like it might happen all too quickly, but …)
That combination of commitment and dependence, of covenant and necessity, is a much stronger wall to lean on than the emotional high of “falling in love.” I really enjoy being in love, just like I enjoy chocolate. But I wouldn’t try to live on it exclusively; you have to have your veggies.
It’s a good thing I’ve learned to enjoy veggies. Just like I’ve learned to enjoy my marriage – with or without the candlelight.