Then and now: On our wedding day in 1993; and in 2010.
I thought the title of the song by Jason Mraz was appropriate, because the whole thing often feels like pure luck. And now that I’m at the age when too many of my friends are struggling, when relationships and marriages are falling apart, I often find it difficult to answer the question, “How come you guys are still so much in love?”
I met my husband when I was 18. It wasn’t love at first sight, but I liked him a lot and felt attracted to him. We started dating, and curiosity and lust gradually turned into love. A deep, committed love. The kind of love that I witnessed as a child, growing with parents who, in their mid sixties, are still in love.
When he asked me to marry him, I said yes, but promptly got cold feet. I needed time – I was only 21 – I was too young. I needed to experiment. Can we take a year off? I begged, and he, wisely, said no. I could leave, but he would not wait for me.
Almost twenty years later, I have a crystal clear image of myself, standing next to my bedroom window, looking out into the night, thinking, trying to make a decision. Suddenly, I knew what I needed to do. I closed my eyes and imagined my life without him. Packing, renting a new apartment, possibly with a roommate. Going about my daily life without him. Preparing and eating meals, shopping, going on trips, studying for tests, partying – going about all the small activities that join into life. Him, not included.
I couldn’t imagine it. It felt so empty, so meaningless. Even the promise of new experiences, of meeting new men and dating again and “making the most of my twenties” did not feel so exciting anymore. Leaving him would be like giving up a part of me – a big part of me. He was the one – and I wasn’t going to turn him into “the one that got away.”
So I married, at the age of 22. He was almost 30. We’ve been together ever since, raising two children, building a life, deepening our commitment and our friendship, keeping the lust, and – most importantly – having fun. We make each other laugh, we make each other think. We have a ton of respect for each other. He’s my best friend and I think I am his, and the gender differences make it all the more interesting.
When people ask me, “What’s your secret? You seem so happy together” I tell them that yes, we are very happy together, but I’m not sure if I can share any secrets or give any tips. A lot of it is luck, after all. But recently I came across a great post by Jonathan Figaro on the Sources of Insight blog, and it got me thinking.
In the post, Jonathan says, “Don’t lose the one that cares about you the most. We all have stories of the one that got away. I had my chance and I lost it. She would call me even when I didn’t have a dime to my name. I hear she’s married now and doing very well for herself. My lesson here is, don’t get so involved in your dreams that you forget about those who care about you the most.”
In the comment I left on that post, I said, “I can’t believe you just brought tears to my eyes with the ‘one that got away’ paragraph. Not because he got away, but because I was smart enough to stay with him, even though I was young and foolish. Twenty years later, we’re still together, and he’s not just my partner, but also my best friend.”
Maybe it’s not just luck. I made a conscious decision NOT to let him get away. And throughout the years, we have made repeated decisions to keep investing in the relationship, to keep it alive, to work at it and – just as important – to keep ourselves interesting and well-read and fit and as attractive as age permits – for each other.
Will it last forever? I hope so. As a former divorce attorney, I’ll never be able to believe in “happily ever after” the way I used to – that innocence has been taken away from me by that tough profession. But for the past twenty years, and for the foreseeable future, I am so very grateful to be in love with my best friend.