<– We are not that Valentine’s couple!
This post could be called either of those two titles, because both so absolutely apply to the topic: my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, which is February 14, 2012. Yep, Valentine’s wedding; and not at all for the reasons that immediately pop into anyone’s head, when we tell them it’s our anniversary. Let me be very clear about this: 25 years ago, Smart Guy and I were not romantics who wanted a pink and red wedding, and heart shaped reminders each year, as to why we got married. We did not anticipate fighting for dinner reservations each year, when our anniversary comes up. We did not think about the pressure that would be incumbent upon both of us, to keep up with the rest of the world, who sees this day as: a chocolates, flowers,
over-the-top syrupy romantic Valentine cards, dinner out and love-filled day. We were practical students- he in medical school and I in graduate school- who got tired of our families messing with our wedding dates, debating over who should/could/would come, and so we just flipped the table and picked a date that we both had three days off from school. The facts that we decided that less than two months before the date, that our parents were both unhappy about these changes, and that we would be forever linked to Valentine’s day… did not occur to either of us at the time. Seriously.
Smart Guy came back to our apartment one day, found me on the floor crying (over yet another wedding snafu with parents) and said: “I’m off on February 13th. I have three days off. Let’s do it then.” I opened my black planner (which was my lifeline to all things planned) and noted: A) That I had that date off too, and B) That the 13th was a Friday. “I’m not getting married on Friday the 13th. That’s bad luck,” I told him. “I don’t believe in superstition. We’d have four nights away.” I knew that Smart Guy and I were different, on too many levels to list here, but I was not going to test the theory of Friday the 13th on my wedding. “I won’t get married on the 13th,” I told him firmly. “Ok, the 14th then.” He said it; I agreed, and neither one of us gave a single thought to Valentine’s day… until we started telling people that we had a final, final date. By the time they all started saying “ahhh, that’s so sweeeet!” or “you guys are soooo romantic,” it was too late. We had put our feet down and taken the reigns regarding our wedding, and now, Valentine’s be damned, we were following through. But, we were not romantics!
We were practical, driven “twenty-somethings,” who got married on Valentine’s Day and didn’t have a clue what that would mean, year after year. It is the first big understatement: to say that each year since, we have both fumbled with this initial over-site. We aren’t Valentine’s people, either of us, but we do celebrate our anniversary. It’s something to be married this long, and we do know that it deserves proper acknowledgement. However, we are both inherently last minute people too (hence the first mis-step: waiting until last minute to take those reigns and being stuck with February 13th, 1987 as the first date we could nip all the familial stuff in the bud)… So each year, we are fighting an upstream battle to get a dinner date, for our anniversary, and not let Hallmark overshadow us. All the really cool places are booked long before we think to call; and by the time we find something, we’re often pissy about the hassle of it all. Cards, candy and flowers? Feh.
Once we put our collective feet down, we ran with the Valentine thing. We picked “My Funny Valentine” as our dance song, and hired a local music school major to play piano all night. We trusted him when he told us he could “play anything,” and that he’d learn Funny Valentine. But the boy was no Ella Fitzgerald (which is what we had in mind), more understatements, and he lied. He could not play our song, and we got “Lady in Red,” instead. Ok, the color was at least right. Right? Red, Valentine… we are not romantics. It wasn’t actually a bad song, and it worked. We danced.
(My Mom walked me down the aisle. Mom, my sister and I. Man and Wife. The Bride)
It would be another understatement to say that neither of us thought of how flipping cold it might be in February in Connecticut. The day dawned crisp and Cold. Capital C, Cold. By the time of our nuptials at 5 PM, it was 17 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 7. Seriously cold. And boy did we hear about that! For years, when the topic of our wedding day came up, inevitably someone would say: “Man! It was so damned cold that day!” We were married in the (200 yr) Old State House, in Hartford, CT. Walking to the building, I didn’t dare put a coat on, lest it ruin my dress or my wet hair (once a last minute girl, always a last minute girl), which my sister had braided so nicely. It was cold! That is no understatement… or maybe it is? It was freezing!
<– Only two remain from this photo, but oh how lucky we were that we had our grandparents as long as we did.
Twenty-five years later, there are endless understatements that strike me. We were young. We were idealistic. We had no idea what we were in for. We had no (real) idea that the people we loved so much, who shared that day with us, would not always be there. We were young. When I look at the photos, in our neatly organized photo album, oh how I wish I’d known just how fast the time does go by. I wish I’d known to stop and take it all in a little more. Take all of them in, a little more. That time flies, that twenty-five years seems unbelievable, is one mega understatement! One slow, lazy blink: Three kids. Blink: Three kids grown up. Blink: We are now older than our parents were in those wedding pictures… and they seemed so old to us then. When I search the picture of my mother and I, that day, I can’t help but compare lines and wonder what the next twenty-five years will hold. I don’t have Huntington’s (as she did) and I don’t smoke, and while I don’t work out
at all much, I’m in better shape… maybe there’s hope that I won’t age as quickly? It’s scary to see how much I looked then, as Principessa (our daughter, for new readers) looks now… and then see the difference jump out from the mirror. Hard not to make that other leap to my mother and what another 25 might look like on me. It’s actually not a vanity thing, really. It’s a mortality thing. Seeing those photos is a hard copy reminder of my mortality… understatement. (I’m now 6 yrs. older than Mom was then)
But perhaps the understatement of the Quarter Century (I’ll keep you posted on the century), is that marriage is hard work… and the kids in those photos had no clue. No clue. Get married? Sure. Valentine’s Day? Well, if we have three days off, sure. Make it work for twenty-five years, raise three amazing humans, keep working at it, keep trying to smooth the edges… no clue folks. I had not come from a long line of long marriages. On my dad’s side I do, but I wasn’t raised with them. My dad’s sister, my aunt, and her husband are no doubt THE most romantic, cutest couple I’ve ever had the privilege to know. They’ve been married forever and still call each other “lovey,” and fit together like two halves of the same magic coin (see the magic here). If I’d grown up around that, well, I might have gotten married on Valentine’s day, to be romantic… rather than practical. On my mom’s side, divorce was not a foreign word. I couldn’t imagine twenty-five years, I was barely twenty-five years old at the time. For the record, Smart Guy’s parents were married 52 years, when his mom died two years ago, but I don’t think Smart Guy was any smarter than me, then (or now, for the record. Wink, wink). We were in love. That was it.
We are very different people, Smart Guy and I. He’s Nerdy and science minded; I’m Artsy and emotional. He’s athletic; I am not. He’s practical; I’m passionate. We’re both driven, but often in different directions. He’s an organized planner; I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, impulsive, free faller. He likes to climb; I need to fly. We’re both- these things to a fault, and to our credit. Perhaps we compliment each other, otherwise, we might not still be together. No doubt we’re both tenacious, because we’re celebrating twenty-five years, and that takes tenacity for sure. There are those golden couples, who reach this milestone much more easily. They are still “best friends,” or “madly in love.” I am always impressed with those people. As I said, my aunt and uncle: Blow. Me. Away! It’s a beautiful thing to see. But, I think Smart Guy and I owe tenacity for our longevity. We have worked at this thing called marriage. There have been some very rough times along the way. No sugar coating that. No making it sound better for the sake of a blog post, or for the sake of this big anniversary. “Our Song” is With Or Without You, for a reason. It fits us well. We chose it because of a very romantic night, and I can say with absolute certainty, that when that song plays, we both could tell you most of the details of that night. I was deeply in love, and that was one of the greatest slow dances of my life. Still. (live video) But the words do suit us. We (often) can’t live with or without each other. (^ Us, the year we got married. A good friend who I modeled for in Cambridge, MA, took these when Smart Guy came by to get me that day… We were babies.)
<– (Retraction- Biggest understatement: These three are the best thing to come out of these twenty-five years!
Around the time of our wedding, Smart Guy’s grandmother had given us a “living inheritance,” money given while you’re alive. She said: “Don’t just pay your bills, do something really special that I can hear about and enjoy too.” We were poor students at the time with a 7 year residency ahead of us, where we knew Smart Guy would be making less than a full-time McDonald’s employee (yes, really). So, we took some of the money and took a no frills honeymoon trip (right after we both graduated, a year after we got married) to Hawaii, and then used the rest for our move to Chicago and to pay our bills for a while. Grandma Fritzi was happy, and we knew that someday we’d be able to do the things we were missing then. On our honeymoon, I met a really cool dude in the baggage area in Kauai. He had just returned from Palau, near the Phillipines. His stories so amazed me, that I said: “For our twenty-fifth anniversary, we should go to Palau.” I think Smart Guy thought it was a joke, frankly. But for all these years, I’ve been saying… Palau, Palau. This year, for our big twenty-fifth, we had actually planned to go to Palau. We started working on the details late last summer… researching the location, the prices, etc. But life happens. We ended up with two amazing exchange students and life got a little more complicated. While we were in Chicago in October, it occurred to us that the logistics of going to Palau with three kids, two of whom are not our own, were just not realistic. Palau will wait. Smart Guy and I decided that we will go when life is a little quieter again (as if)… Blink.
A few slow, lazy blinks and here we are. It will be our twenty-fifth anniversary. We won’t be in Palau, but we will be with good friends, no doubt laughing about how we’re still together, and celebrating our tenacity, our effort, our love. I’m sure you thought I’d overlooked that: love? Look, whatever the details, in the end we still love each other. It’s not an easy love. It’s not that “best friend/madly in love/life is so perfect” marriage, but it’s lasted. Marriage is hard work. Damned hard work. That is indeed the understatement of this quarter of a century. We have spent these twenty-five years building careers, raising children, laughing, fighting, growing up, growing older, figuring some things out, missing some others… and trying to get a reservation on Valentine’s Day.
Stop! Really. Read this. Please note: If you enjoy these posts hit “Like” and make me smile. It also helps my blog grow and that is the point. Go back and hit Like. Thanks. Then, be a good dooby and “Share” them with others; it’s nice to share. Better yet Like them; Share them and then do something nice for yourself: “Subscribe.” You won’t get any spam, you can sign up with an anonymous name (I won’t know who you are, unless you tell me), and you will get an email each time I post. Think of it as a free gift to yourself. You know you want to. Go ahead, make my day (sorry about the gun, but this is serious business).
Congratulations: it does take a lot of work and tenacity to stay the course!
Thanks Maryanne. Work, work, work! 🙂
Lovely photos! Happy Anniversary!
We were engaged on Valentine’s Day- and like you- it was more bc of convenience- and I’m not the red heart sappy type. 30 years this June! And yes, it’s hard work.
Ironically, he proposed the Valentine’s Day before… a romantic gesture. The rest was convenience, hard work and a few blinks. 🙂
Congratulations on your wonderful milestone. After all this time you’ve gotta admit it’s a pretty romantic day to celebrate 25 years together!
Congratulations! Enjoy your special day tomorrow!
Thanks Jean. Appreciate you reading along and saying hello! We will be out for dinner, and enjoying some time. 🙂
Loved your Valentine story…thank you so much for sharing. It was funny and fun and, most of all, so true. Marriage IS hard work…quite a lot of it, in fact. My husband and I have been married over 44 years…and we dated for 4 years during college before we got married. And yes, sometimes we can’t live with each other…and sometimes we can’t live without each other…fortunately the scales tip heavily on the “can’t live without” side. And yes, our three children (now grown with little ones of their own) are a beautiful “by-product” of our marriage. 🙂
Glad I’m following your blog…I really enjoyed your post!
Thanks Vivian… congratulations on 48 years together!! THAT is an amazing thing to accomplish! I appreciate you sticking with me and continuing to share your feedback and thoughts. Always means a lot. Happy Valentine’s Day! 😉
This is your best blog of those I have read. (Well, I try, but I miss some of them.) I especially love reading of your devotion to each other. And I love that my Hubby and I are referenced. Here’s to the next 25 years of your marriage, no matter how hard to believe that may be for you at this moment. xoxo
Your hubby and you are never far from my thoughts… a great reference for how to get it right! Glad you enjoyed this one (the last one was one of my favorites) best; that puts a big smile on my face! thanks for the lovin’. Hugs.
Next Tuesday, the 21st, is our 25th. We too are a complimentary couple. (That didn’t sound right, but you understand.) My wife is outgoing and doesn’t know a stranger. She is the life of every party and she shines like a brilliant star. I know of no one that does not like her and appreciate her. I, on the other hand, rather be alone reading and writing. I don’t enjoy small talk. I am a observer while she is a participant. Many people don’t like me. In fact, I am sure that no invitations to parties or other events would come to our house if not for my wife. Alone, I am nothing. She is the best thing I ever did–and I continue to do her! All joy. HF
I feel like I should print your comment and send it to your wife. This stuff makes us gals swoon… though, like me, she would probably role her eyes at you and continue what she’s doing.;-) Congratulations on your twenty-fifth… it is indeed an impressive milestone!
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BEAUTIFUL post — love the pix most of all!
Congrats to you and Smart Guy. You make such an adorable couple…
Thanks Mikalee… adorable, yeah, that’s what comes to mind… hmmm, not. Thanks for the compliment, my snarky heart has trouble accepting such sweetness’, but grateful for your feedback and time. 😉
The things we don’t know when we’re young! I was 21 when we met, 24 when we married. This is our 40th year together. There is no preparation for meeting all of life’s challenges, bearing children, losing parents and siblings, supporting one another in fighting the “system”, okay he is really the one to fight the system. As I’ve attended weddings over the years, it has become more significant to me that the value of the ceremony, stating publicly that you honor and cherish your loved one is that a couple really does need a community to support them in their marriage and their life after the wedding.We had an impromptu wedding, planned for 5 days with only my family and our 2 best friends – a couple we really loved to hang out with. No regrets about not having a large wedding, but today, it would be nice to say to the folks at the wedding, had we had a bit larger one – thanks for the support along the way! Thanks for modeling good strong marriages. Thanks for showing up for the big and the little events. When I attend a wedding, I feel honored to be invited to witness and a commitment to “be there” down the road.
However you and papa did it, clearly it worked! You two are such a wonderful love story, and fine example to your daughter… of what a good marriage looks like. In the end, so often when we look at wedding pictures (and I’ve heard this from many people), it’s amazing how many of the people in the pictures drop a away. I bet you are still friends with the few you had there, and your family is family… it’s a beautiful thing that you two have shared 40 years and still are in love. Thanks for dropping in, and sharing your thoughts Heidi. 🙂
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