Here are 4 words that, years ago, I never thought I would hear: “Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary!” Yep, Larry and I celebrated our over 40 Love Story 10th wedding anniversary Friday evening with a low-key dinner with friends. No expensive presents, big shindig or celebratory trip. Just being together, enjoying one of our favorite restaurants with close friends. That was all we wanted and needed.
It was fun reflecting on our many adventures. They began with our wedding, when we were forced to change the venue 36 hours beforehand. (A story for another time.) Continued through three moves, countless travels and trips, building my business, the passing of both my parents…the many events that come with sharing a life.
I consider Larry to be as perfect a mate for me as it gets. That does NOT mean it’s been a cake walk. We’ve had a handful of challenges over the past decade that could have done us in had we been two different people with fewer skills and less life experience as grownups. And had we been less committed to our partnership.
When I reflect on how we got through it all – intact, in love and as best friends – it boils down to the same thing that led me to get married for the first time at the age of 47:
Discover, don’t decide.
This is not only what I’ve lived, but what I preach, teach and nag you to do. It’s easy to make quick, uninformed decisions. Discovery takes more courage, patience and vulnerability. Discovery holds so many more rewards!
Here are just a few examples:
On our first date Larry told me he was separated, not divorced. He also told me that he didn’t expect to get married again. I wanted to get married. Why waste my precious time? The old me would have written him off instantly. My wall would have gone up, I would have rushed through our coffee date and then beaten a path out of there…disappointed once again.
Instead, I recognized that he was a nice, seemingly honest guy so I asked him some questions about his situation. He told me he had been living separately for several years. So what’s the deal with that?? (Yah, that’s exactly what I said.) Why wasn’t he divorced? Was he against marriage?
We talked. We shared. I stayed open to discovering more about him.
We went to lunch.
We were married 6 months later.
Then there is the whole boating thing, When, a few years into our marriage, he was spending more and more time boating on the weekends with his pals, I was angry and resentful and felt left out. He had been very open with me about his love of the sea early on. I had decided years ago that I hated anything having to do with the ocean. It scared me and made me sick. But when it became a battle ground in our marriage I got into discovery mode.
First I realized that my feelings about him loving it was about me being jealous. How can he have so much fun without me being there???
I opened myself up to discover what everyone loved so much about the damn ocean and why they all seemed to love their weekends in Catalina (while I sat home and pouted). I put on my big girl pants, took my seasick meds and gave boating a try. Slowly I began allowing myself to shift my truth. I loved the relaxation. I’m now a proud first mate and am learning to navigate the boat.
I stopped deciding I hated boating and started discovering what there was to love about it.
Larry and I belong to a yacht club. Tonight we go to our weekly Taco Tuesdays there. I count the days until our next weekend boating adventure. We’ve even talked about living on our boat! It’s a wonderful part of our life that we now share.
When other issues (too private to share here) cropped up in our relationship half-way through, I consciously held myself back from deciding he was not the man I thought he was, that we were incompatible, that it would never get better. He and I mustered the courage to have the scary conversations, share our truths and look deeper.
With the help of a counselor, we discovered even more about each other; the good, the bad and the ugly. (Yes, I need coaching too.) This was not easy. And, let me tell you, there were times I thought we wouldn’t make it. Now I look back and I’m so grateful we did. We are probably more committed and more in love.
When I look back on how we got to this milestone, it scares me to realize how close we came to our lifetime love affair never happening. The old me – the scared, defensive I can’t bear to be rejected me who was on high alert to protect myself – would have nixed Larry before the end of our meet date. Or let boating be a battle ground for whether he loved me or not. Or worse, run for divorce court when the shit hit the fan.
Instead, we sat happily together Friday night, holding hands under the table, stronger for our challenges, proud of our commitment and courage, reminiscing about the last ten years and committed to discovering what our future, together, will bring.
This never married, childless, Jewish, ex-valley girl is madly in love with this twice before married, two children and four grandkids, atheist, ex-pig farmer. Thank goodness I stuck around to discover what a special team we make. Here’s to the next 10 beautiful years!
And here’s to YOU finding YOUR over 40 love story!
What do you think? Can you make any tweaks to how you judge the men you meet? I’m 100% sure that if I hadn’t been OPEN. I wouldn’t be married to the man of my dreams for the last 10 years. What’s your story?