I use an editorial calendar for my blog, and a long time ago, I penciled in "thoughts on thirty years of marriage" for today's post. So all last week while my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary with a trip to the Pacific Northwest, I kept watching him, puzzling over what wisdom I could share. He'd catch me staring at him as he tucked into a plate of meat and potatoes and ask, "What? What'd I do?"
So here's the first thing I'll share. When you're in love with a high metabolism, it's hard. My mother-in-law used to quip that what her son liked most about me was my family's chain of grocery stores.
But of course, he's more than a high metabolism -- he is also a gentle, urbane, conscientious man who sees himself as Atticus Finch until I come along and put him in a gorilla suit because we are staging a Planet of the Apes spook house and he needs to make the neighbor kids cry. He's all buttoned-up and kindhearted until I recruit him to tie a blow-up doll to the roof of a friend's house because APRIL FOOL'S! He's brushed his teeth and all ready for bed until I holler, "OMG! You can't go to bed! It's Thursday night and I need your help writing a blog post about how I keep you up!"
It sounds like a hellish marriage for one of us, doesn't it. But there is reciprocity in this relationship and it was there from the beginning. My husband loves the backcountry and on our fourth date, he took me camping to a place called Panther's Den. I impressed him by showering in a waterfall, and he impressed me by packing along a fancy bottle of whiskey in a purple velvet bag. (It turns out he siphoned rotgut into an empty Crown Royal bottle but I couldn't tell the difference between firewater and fine spirits.)
We've camped in Wisconsin rainstorms with a colicky baby, in blizzards in Yosemite, in Idaho with llamas and bears, in Michigan sand dunes in lightening storms. Usually along the way, Mother Nature beats me up a little but I get up and keep going.
And so we take turns breaking down each other's barriers, and being surprised by how well the other handles it. One of our kids compared us to Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Each of us pushing the other one. Sherlock's eccentric ideas conveyed cryptically to Watson who sighs and pretends to be bothered but is secretly gung-ho for another photo shoot, and actually comes to the rescue by remembering to bring the finger puppets.
I believe that our personalities are not necessarily fixed in stone, but after thirty years together, there are patterns that have become predictable. So I hope that the surprise we provoke in each other is part of the reason we continue to enjoy each other's company so much.
Whether I want him to dress up for a party or he wants me to gear up for the woods, we accept each other's proposals with relish. And we have come to expect the unexpected in each other. There is love in that. Love, and a lot of meat and potatoes.
Here's a little 30-second outtake from our recent trip to Whistler, British Columbia:
If you enjoyed today's post, you might like the story of our first Christmas together - a kind of Gift of the Magi, but with a twist. Click here to read.
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