Surviving a Husband, Needing a Blender
By Carol Gee
I am a romantic. My spouse‚ not so much.
When we were first married, my idea of romantic gestures leaned toward expensive perfume, flowers, or lace camisoles, not (as my husband would have it) kitchen appliances. Our first Christmas together, he gave me a four-slice toaster that was professionally wrapped and capped off by a huge red bow. I reminded him that we had received three toasters as wedding gifts. (How much toast did folks think we ate anyway?) He explained that this particular toaster was better: it could toast four slices of bread at one time instead of just two. He thought he was making things easier for me. How could that be so wrong?
Two months later on my birthday, he bought me a mixer. This time I held my tongue, promising myself that I wouldn't say anything until my kitchen appliances were complete. You know what they say: blenders are like men. You always feel that you need one; you just don't know why.
"To have and to hold from this day forward" can be quite challenging, no matter how complete your line of kitchen appliances. The first years after jumping the broom (an old African custom) are spent getting to know each other and learning to live together harmoniously. Decisions that were once made for one are now made for two.
Somehow the two of us survived the seven-year itch only to be confronted with a big-time crisis at year thirteen. There was a decline in intimacy and communication on his part followed by my angst at our relocating to a Central American country. Surrounded by machismo, what I always had considered a true partnership fell apart.
We took a time-out. And although we were in flux, with regular communication our relationship showed promise. The love was still there. As a consequence, we reunited to become stronger than ever before.
Twenty-five years came and went before we knew it, thanks mainly to my spouse. He puts up with my high-strung, high-maintenance ways and always has respected the freedom that I have needed to be me. Then "in sickness and in health" reared its head. During the last twelve years, one illness or another has been my spouse's constant companion. Despite health challenges, intimacy does not have to cease. Health issues simply change priorities and force couples to seek alternative ways to express how they feel.
Marriage after thirty-six years is a lot different from year one or even year thirteen. Marriage after three decades doesn't just happen because two great people love each other. Long-time marriage stems from years of learning to appreciate each other's need to grow individually. Long-time marriage comes from meeting challenges together—something I failed to realize at year thirteen.
As my wedding anniversary looms on the horizon, it still surprises me when he reaches for my hand as we cross the street. That he sometimes holds it for a few minutes longer than necessary before relinquishing it does funny things to my foolish heart. As I reflect on the rest of our life together, I have finally come to realize what the "until death do us part" portion of our wedding vows means. Realizing this, I now know that the steps we already have taken toward this destination will continue to provide a road map for the rest of our journey together.