My husband and I celebrated 25 years of marriage this past summer. We didn’t go to Hawaii or on a Caribbean cruise; we didn’t visit Disneyworld or get away to a lodge in Vermont. We bought a garage door. It was a much-needed garage door, as water had been coming into the garage after a fierce rainstorm, mice were sneaking in through the large gap at the bottom, and the frigid winter temperatures were no match for the old, thin wooden garage door original with the house. I jokingly told my friends that since the 25th anniversary is called the silver anniversary, the garage door fit perfectly with its silver handle and hinges.
Marriage has been the greatest adventure of my life, including the parenting of our three children. While the romance certainly is there, the vast majority of our life together has been more about learning to navigate the challenges of life and striving to understand each other more. This does not come easy. And for some reason, the most ordinary of situations can suddenly present the most difficult of challenges.
Take wallpapering, for instance. There are not very many different ways to hang wallpaper. It would seem that covering one wall of the dining room with a roll of striped wallpaper would easily be accomplished by two hard-working adults in a reasonable amount of time. Who would have guessed it would prove to be a battleground of the wills? It’s straight – no, it’s not. We shouldn’t overlap it this much – yes, we should. It’s curving around the corner too much – I don’t think so. Are you going to hold it up at the top or not? – What do you think I am doing? A few hours and many disgruntled comments later, we were done – done with the wallpaper and done with each other, at least for a few minutes.
Or take rafting, for another instance. A family vacation should include at least a little adventure, right? So an afternoon of rafting on a lazy river in Michigan sounded like a great idea. Having been assured that the large inflatable raft was unsinkable, and being reminded that the last pick-up at the end of the trip was at 6 pm, we embarked on our family “cruise”, picnic lunch and sunscreen in hand. Who would have guessed there could be so many differing opinions on how to steer a raft? Why are you putting the paddle on that side – are you steering or am I? Why are you rowing so hard – why aren’t you rowing harder? In spite of the slow flow of the water and the wide space between river banks, a fly fisherman had to move out of the way so as not to be run over by our large raft. After discovering two different beach-like areas to pull into for our picnic, but being unable to navigate the raft to shore, we finally made a landing at our third spot. But at this point we had to hurry so as not to miss the last pick-up at 6 p.m. Fighting under our breath or enduring long periods of silence, we wearily paddled our way into the landing spot just before the final pick-up time. At least we didn’t have to spend the night in the woods or walk the long road back to our vehicle!
My husband and I do not argue all the time; in fact, it is a fairly rare occurrence. But it is true that living life together with anyone you love will not be smooth sailing all the time. Love is lived out in the raw, breath-taking, brutal, beautiful, boisterous and bold moments of life. While the glamorous moments are great (like when he gave me a gold anniversary band this past Christmas!), the everyday moments are the links that lock our hearts together on this amazing journey called Life.