A lovely article for anyone about to approach a significant wedding anniversary or thinking about renewing their vows.
The Warmest Chord
by Lorraine Devon Wilkie – featured in The Huffington Post
What great kernels of wit and wisdom can I pass along as one of the wise old-marrieds? At this juncture of my 21st anniversary, allow me to put my very uncultured pearls into list form as a nod to enduring love and why I chose who I chose in the grand institution of marriage:
1. Make sure you fall in love with someone who can ultimately be your friend. By your 21st year that friend will likely mean more to you than any lover ever could. And if you’re lucky enough to still have a buzz with each other at that point, you’ll be fully aware that six-pack abs, a full head of hair and the chiseled jaw of youth are all quite fabulous and chemistry-inducing as a starting point but ultimately can’t shake a stick at that friend who knows all your physical and emotional sweet spots and loves you despite the outward lessening of your previously-held good looks.
2. Make sure you marry someone who can be a good mate. Very different criteria than a good boyfriend/girlfriend/lover. It requires things like stellar work ethic (good job and the wherewithal to keep it), admirable responsibility (solid sense of the point and purpose of saving money), age-appropriate skills (can pack own bag and knows how to run the dishwasher), The list goes on. You get the idea.
3. Be an metaphoric animal tamer and get every elephant out into the middle of the living room for thorough examination. Discuss and clarify politics, sex, religion, family of origin, morality, mortality, gender politics, parenting philosophies; who expects what from whom on any given matter. Get the old boyfriend/girlfriend confessions out of the way (ALL of them), make sure you agree on how much to share on Facebook, and if there is a YouTube video floating around that bears some explaining, do it now.
4. Be very clear that the most important and essential emotions on the table are and will always be love, empathy, joy and compassion.
5. Have an unassailable sense of humour about pretty much everything. If you had a silly character who won your mate’s heart during the early days of easy laughter, make sure that character sticks around for the less whimsical years when a good laugh can save the day. These characters, like you, only get better with age.
6. Speaking of age, LOVE the aging process your mate is/will be going through it can be brutal and self-negating and there is nothing quite like looking at them on a day when he or she is feeling particularly heinous and saying “you still look amazing to me.” Because if you followed Items 1-5 I guarantee, they will still look amazing to you.
Beyond the list, I think we marry and stay married to the person we do mostly because we cannot imagine life without them. Because no matter what accidents happen, what injuries occur, careers sputter, figures fade, money eludes or disappointments pile up, that person is the one you want to endure with. Fight the good fight with. Wake up to in the morning even after a night of sorrow and confusion. They give you a sense of place, of foundation, of home. The “institution” that marriage speaks of is real and tangible to you because being married to this person feels like something concrete and physical, a place you want to live in. Because however love may change after 21 years, the way it reinvents itself in each new moment feels as urgent and powerful as the first heady incarnation.