My husband and I have been married for 27 years. We still hold hands. We still surprise each other with small presents on days that are only special because we make them so. I cook his favorite dishes; he fixes everything from broken earrings to my John Deere rototiller. We love each other more today than we did all those years ago when we said, “I do.”
So, how did we know our marriage would last, would be magical? We didn’t.
My motto in 1983 was, “I could spend my own money and make myself miserable; why would I need a man?”
There was no place in my life for someone to love other than my daughter. So Pat was a complete surprise. I met him in October but thought he was coming to the television station to visit his girlfriend. I didn’t really notice that he spent a lot of time in the newsroom, talking with me.
When he asked me out in early November, he says I said “No” and kept on typing. He was so surprised that he asked me why. I told him I didn’t date other women’s boyfriends. He made the hapless woman come into the news room and tell me they were not dating.
Since I had made a complete fool out of myself, I agreed to date him but decided I was going to show him the full me – no fencing or ploys – all of who I was right down to what I liked and didn’t like.
We went to dinner. It was December 3rd, 1983. I remember that we talked the entire time we were in the restaurant. We talked and walked along the Delaware River afterward then went back to my condo to talk some more. After he left, I knew I was in trouble. I could love him but didn’t want to.
We went out on two more dates then started spending every waking and sleeping moment that we could, together. In February, he called the television station and asked me to marry him. I said yes. We were married on 8/4/84 – just 8 months after our first date.
Were we crazy? Yes. Was it a leap of faith? Yes. Has it been easy? No. In fact, the first year was so tough both of us had second thoughts.
Like all couples, we were and are two, totally different people with totally different baggage, interests and drives. I love the country, write in my spare time, have a horse, garden for food and raise chickens. He is a city boy at heart, likes to watch sports TV to excess and only has one outside interest – cars.
So how have we made it this far?
There are two elements that I think have helped us to live and love through 27 years together. The first is the fact that our values are the same. Way down at the core of our beings, we believe in the same things and will fight for those beliefs.
The second is that we made a commitment to each other and have honored it. We are honest with each other to a fault – sometimes causing arguments but also clearing the air and once again, settling us into the same place with the same drives and desires. We never forget to say please and thank you. That sounds small but it reinforces the respect that must underpin any relationship.
Our marriage has been tested by the fires of illness and come through stronger than ever. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2001. For the last decade, we both lived through more than 30 hospitalizations for surgeries, emergencies, and infections.
Weeks and months of our lives were wrapped around hospital rooms and prescriptions and one blow after another relative to his health. Every time he would start to recover, bang – right back into the hospital with a new twist or turn ranging from another tumor to a blocked coronary artery.
This proud Italian man has paid a hefty price physically and emotionally. He is alternately sad and angry and he tends to take both out on me because I am the only place he feels safe. I have been left with no faith that he will live long enough for us to retire. On bad days, I am tired and scared and sad.
I have seen other marriages crumble over far less than 10 years of fear and sorrow but not ours. We treasure each and every day together. We still enjoy each other’s company; we still love each other. We have a deep and abiding love but like all love stories, ours is punctuated by extremes. So there are those days when things have gone a bit wonky and like changes to a bit of dislike for each other.
But we work at marriage, every day. We are bound together by joy and genuine caring. We are facing our future, whatever that is, together. On the good days, in the present moment that we try to live in, we are happy, content and enjoying ourselves.
And that’s why our marriage is magic.