Sipping my tea this morning, I reflect...
A successful marriage takes three things: shared values, luck, and fucking hard work. This week my husband and I celebrate twenty-one years of marriage. We met in college when I was eighteen and he was twenty. We were the weird ones on campus that didn’t try to destroy our bodies on a regular basis, instead, we found in each other someone else who cared about health, the environment, and trying to figure out how to live a good life.
Within a short time we became parents, got married, and moved into our own place. It was an abrupt dive into adulthood, but we were committed to each other, our babies, and the kind of life we had talked about in theory, but could now put into action. We stood firm together in the midst of loving-but-critical family in our decisions for attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapers, family bed, homeschooling, non-toxic cleaners, and not giving our kids crap to eat. We had a limited budget, but tried to eat organic as much as possible, learning how to cook all our meals at home. I was diagnosed with celiac, and we all went gluten-free at a time when no one knew what that meant.
We came from very different backgrounds: he grew up in a farming family in an upstate town with one stoplight. I grew up in Long Island, traveled around the world as a child, and went to a private high school. We each brought heavy baggage and loving gifts to our partnership. I dropped out of college to take care of our children. He worked his ass off to get a PhD so we could give our kids a future. We confused each other, we supported each other; we stubbornly refused to give up on the other.
I can’t say much about the luck part: we met young and happened to grow up in a compatible way; the hard work is a given for any long-term venture, but the shared values are easier to define. When we met, healthy living was an interest, after having children it became a priority. There is a continual conversation on whole care of our bodies, minds, and spirits. My partner and I want to grow old together, not just survive, but thrive. Our children are now adults, but remain the primary orbit in our universe. Their increasing independence gives us both a chance to gaze out past the familiar horizon and seek out new adventures. The challenge is to keep holding hands along the way.
This may be too sustainably-harvested roses for you, but hey, I’m telling a love story.