I was about half way up the face of a 14,000 ft peak when it hit me. In the same year my son gets married to his love and my daughter celebrates one year of marriage to her loving spouse, my wife and I enter our 30th year as husband and wife.
The truth is that we are hard pressed to find other couples where we are at in our life. Far too many of our friends and family are in second marriages (or third and fourth), much younger in their years of matrimony, or single. We have found ourselves in a sea of isolation as we hit the big 30 looking for others who have waded this far into a first marriage as divorce becomes a standard way of life or have waited so late in life to get marriage that they have some catching up to do.
What a journey it has been. We have worked hard. We have built a couple of homes. We had two kids and a lot of animals. We raised them and introduced them to a multitude of opportunities both here and abroad. We started a few businesses. Those were the busy years. Then the kids grew up, moved away and went to college and are either married or getting married.
We’re surviving an empty nest and are back to where we started. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what we talked about before we had kids. For so many years, talk of the children dominated our conversation. Lately people have been asking for advice…ADVICE?! In so many ways I feel we are still trying to figure it out and somehow….well….we have made it.
- Pay attention to the smallest of details: The small stuff DOES matter. Trust me. An example is that my wife and I rarely have focused on gifts for the holidays. In fact, we often tell each other not to get each other anything significant for the holidays. What we have decided is to give gifts all year round. If you are buying flowers once per year on Valentines Day you have missed the point dude!
- Always answer the phone or text when your spouse reaches out: It’s not every day but when that woman texts or calls…..the world stops. I am not the best husband on earth by far but I am damned if I will let stuff get in the way of what she might need – unless it’s birria tacos. Truth is most of the time it is not that important of in light of the COVID pandemic but for us – it matters. Respond my man….respond.
- Laugh, laugh, laugh: I almost wrecked the car the other day laughing so hard with my wife. Ask me and I will tell you the story but it involved an Arab man, a gold necklace, and some bad decisions. In the end, she encouraged me, uplifted me and we laughed so hard I almost pissed my pants. Yes – after 30 years. Love that woman.
- Focus on the people around you that love you, pursue you, and have your back: The truth is that not everyone has your marriage in their best interest. Yeah – big reveal. There are a few individuals you will find (and they are probably a bit strange) that deeply and sincerely want you to succeed. Cling to them, pursue them, and find time to invest in them.
- Don’t compare your marriage to other marriages: Our social media world portrays marriages as full of bliss, passion, remote lakes, tree swings, hugs, kisses, and unrivaled amount of money and time. Whatever. Longevity is developed in the poop pit. The most beautiful thing about my wife is her flaws….I mean it. I love the way she stumbles down the stair in her bed hair, forgets to water the flowers and struggles to make dinner. Why? Not sure but she is mine.
- Don’t put your marriage on hold as you raise your kids: As we were raising our kids we probably spent more time hiking, playing games, road-trippinig, camping, and visiting friends than we ever did. Yes, it required a bit more planning (a lot more) and it would have been much easier to stay at home and veg in front of the tv but it was just not an option. In the end we experienced more amazing memories because of it (and a few scratches, bruises, and scrapes).
- Remember that marriage is not 50/50 – divorce is 50/50: – nuf said!
- Never talk badly about your spouse: Ok, this one should be #1. There is nothing on earth worse than speaking ill about your spouse in front of others. Period. He or she has to be constantly stepping up on pedestal. I cannot tell you how much I hear spouses publicly speaking negatively about their spouse. If you want a divorce……keep that up.
- Always wear your wedding ring: I recently switched to a silicon ring. Frankly I spend a lot of time outdoors participating in active things. I bike, fish, golf, climb, etc.. and I am a poster child for not wearing a ring. However, that is a cop out. Your ring is your signature, your Firma, your Unterschrift. I am hers and she is mine. The minute you take that off…..well.
- Rub feet, take walks, or ?: – Now you are not going to believe me but my wife and I literally give each other foot rubs 3-4 times per week and take walks 2-3 times per week. True dat – ask our kiddos. Do we need them? NO. Well, yes. We started taking time to do this in the first 5 years of marriage. I don’t know why but it has stuck and I am convinced it is one reason we are still married. A foot rub eliminates hours of frustration. My point here is that you need to find that “thing” that you both love to do together in the evenings to close it all down. It’s time together…focused time. So let me encourage you all to try it. Find that thing that you both can do together for 15 min each day. It might be prayer, a walk, a foot rub, a shoulder rub, reading, cards, and make point to do it 3-4 times a week. Those that say quality is better than quantity have never had a foot rub 4 times in one week. Quantity DOES matter.
NEVER GIVE UP!