Reflections On A Marriage

November 21, 1975

It’s interesting to watch a newly married couple.  They look at each other with such love and devotion in their eyes don’t they?  I often wonder what their relationship will be like in a few years from now.  Will they have weathered the rough spots that life will inevitably throw their way?  Or will they turn toward greener pastures when they realize that the honeymoon is over, and the very hard work of being in a marriage has begun?

No marriage is free of struggle.  The question is, will that first experience of starry-eyed love, mature and grow into something deeper and stronger as they years go by?  Or will they forever hang on to the fantasy of happily ever after?

During the occasion of our fortieth wedding anniversary, I began to wonder how Wayne and I managed to stay together all these years.  It wasn’t always easy.  We’ve had our ups and downs like most couples.  But through it all, we are still together. Here’s what works for us:

KEEP THE WIFE HAPPY:  Wayne has always been a generous person.  He lives for his family. He asks where I want to go, what I want to do, and if he can, he makes it happen.  Even when I wanted to go to England to visit my family after a long absence, he encouraged me to do it, even though we couldn’t afford to take the whole family. He understood my deep need to connect with my roots.

LAUGHTER:  Wayne would be the first to laugh at my first suggestion.  He says that no matter how he’s feeling, I have the ability to make him laugh.  Laughter is a gift when things are tough in a relationship.  Sometimes you just have to look at the lighter side of things to get through a rough patch either in the relationship, or when life throws you a curve ball.  You can either laugh at your mistakes, missteps, and misunderstandings, or you can beat yourself up when things go wrong.

BE YOURSELF:  What does it mean to be yourself?  The person we are, changes as life changes.  And it is hoped that your life partner can accept who you become at any given moment in time. Think of like a game of tennis.  With each back and forth motion of the ball, you bring something new into the relationship.  And it is hoped that your partner responds by sending it back to you.  The key word here is, “responds.”  Your partner responds to the change in a positive way and builds on it.  I am a better person today because of Wayne.  Not because he told me to be, but because I wanted to be for him.  In other words, I responded to what was thrown my way and built on it.  Does that make sense?

BECOME A BETTER PERSON:  As I said above, I believe I am a better person because of Wayne.  His intelligence, ambition, work ethic, and familial devotion, have been an inspiration, not only to me, but our children as well. He challenges me by his example. He has opened my eyes to a different perspective of the world.  He’s honest, accepting of different life-styles, and sets a high standard for himself.

FREEDOM:   People are always amazed that I don’t have to have dinner on the table every night.  Wayne is quite capable of feeding himself.  When I was in England for three weeks visiting family, he took the time off work to take care of the kids.  He even made sure the house was clean, and the laundry done before I got home.  If I want to go to a writing workshop, or take a trip with friends, he seems to understand that I need this time for myself.  At the same time, when Wayne wanted to go to university after we were married, and I had to support the family, I was happy to do it so he could realize his dream.  In doing so, we created a better life for ourselves and our children.

TIME ALONE:  At the end of a busy work day Wayne likes to have some quiet time in order to recharge.  This means he’s not available for conversation.  While struggling with some health issues, I know it has been difficult for him to take time for his family.  All his energy went into earning a pay check.  During this time, I was the one to pick up the slack.  I took care of organizing home renovations, dealing with contractors, picking out furniture, and so on, so he could take the time he needed to rest.  I simply accepted that this is the way it is right now.   I even went to weddings alone whenever Wayne had a particularly bad day.  It’s not easy being a single at a wedding, but I did it, and I’m glad I did. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing even when it’s hard.

WANT THE SAME THINGS:  Couples don’t need to be exactly alike to have a good marriage.  Sometimes your differences can complement each other. Wayne and I may not agree on everything, but when it comes to important things in our life, we are on the same page. How we want to raise our family, our dreams of the future,  life values, and our personal morals, are just some of the important areas where we agree.

LIKE EACH OTHER:  You can still love a person, yet not like them very much.  If you like each other, I think it means you like who they are in every stage of life.  I like Wayne because he isn’t afraid to speak his mind.  He stands up for what he believes in.  And because this amazing man chose me to share his life with.

No two relationships are the same.  Each couple has to figure out what works for them. What they are willing to let pass, and what they need to focus on. Wayne and I did not set out to accomplish the marriage that we have today. It evolved over time in the way we responded to what came up along the way.  Like I said, it isn’t perfect.  It still isn’t perfect.  We simply choose to focus on the good things that we have together.

A fortieth wedding anniversary is considered a ruby anniversary.  Just by coincidence we recently purchased a brand new ruby red Ford Escape.  An appropriate choice, wouldn’t you say?  The next big anniversary will be our fiftieth.  That’s the silver I believe – diamonds are silver.  What do you think?  I know Wayne would say, “You always did know how to make me laugh.”

Categories: Memoir, Women's Lives

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