If you’d asked us on that April 30th afternoon 35 years ago, we would have said that, of course we love each other. And we would have meant it. Even if, looking back, it has become clear that we didn’t know what we were talking about. Neither of us, for different reasons, were much prone to warm fuzzy feelings or tell-tale butterflies. We are only half joking when we say that we got married because we were tired of dating.
Our wedding picture is in the dictionary illustrating the principle that opposites attract. I am an off the scale introvert attracted to her easy way in a crowd. I value education and have spent more than half my life to this point in school while she graduated high school and immediately went to work. I like subtle, understated, sly humor. She loves rude noises, slip on the banana peal, edgy humor. I love jazz and classical whereas she likes pop. My mind works slowly, but hers is lightening fast – especially in an argument. I strive to come to conclusions in a linear manner. She thinks globally and knows things without even knowing how she knows them. I am a map person who must orient to north before I know where I am. She is a landmark person who seems to know instinctively where she is.
Not much of this mattered thirty five years ago. We weren’t even aware of the real under-the-surface differences – but assumed that we could probably help the other to move closer to our “normal” given a bit of time. Then, all I knew was that she was endlessly intriguing. I could never figure out what she was thinking and the mystery was fascinating. Thirty five years in, and I still have only the vaguest idea what she is thinking most of the time. She is as fascinating and infuriating as ever.
Thirty five years has brought us through at least two or three marriages to each other. The first one lasted a rocky seven years and took about three years to recover from – and for me to learn, finally, how to be married in the first place. Her grace and willingness to give me time to grow out of myself is the only reason we survived together. Now, we are heading into our fourth marriage. The differences remain and, in some ways, have intensified. But we have learned how to make room in our “normal” for someone we still can’t quite figure out.
I received a precious gift thirty five years ago – much more so than I realized then. I can not imagine the trajectory of my life without her. She is in no small measure responsible for whatever good I have become. And I still am chasing the mystery. Gladly. Gratefully.