Marriage – guest post

Enjoy this guest post from my friend Jeff Green. He wrote these lovely words in celebration of 25 years of marriage to Tricia Green. They struck a chord in me. I think they will do the same for you.

In light of our 25th anniversary, Trish and I thought a lot about how to celebrate it. We’ve decided we should (gulp) renew our wedding vows. 25 years seems like a good marker to say some nice words to each other. To put the shine on new wedding rings and cowboy boots. To make sure others know exactly how we feel.

It’s funny, people sometimes ask me how we’ve stayed together so long, and I always feel like I should give some sage advice. But the advice always seems to be that it’s work…hard work.

It’s work worth doing, don’t get me wrong. And most of the time the work isn’t even that hard. But if you don’t do it, if you try to coast through on good faith, good sex and the occasional bouquet of flowers, the whole thing will evaporate into a whisper of smoke from an untended fire.

Marriage is work, you say? What kind of work?

The simple work that makes the other person feel special. Yes, you can vomit into your puke bowl now if you wish, but the truth is that we all want someone to make us feel special. The minute you stop doing special somethings for the person you love is the minute you make them feel less special. And then they feel less loved. And then love isn’t enough. So maybe the key to marriage is putting gas in her car when it’s almost empty, or just doing the dishes. Or wearing that perfume he likes, or seeing the movie he/she really wants to see and you could care less about. See, it’s mostly the small stuff…the easy stuff.

And yet.

I think most people give up in a benign kind of way. It’s not that they don’t care, quite the contrary. But somewhere along the way they get to feeling comfortable enough, or passive-aggressive enough to stop working at it. And why not? We’re settled down now, right? And we have to spend so much of our time trying to make everyone else in our lives happy. Bosses, children, parents, friends and nosy neighbors. We figure, hey, she knows I love her. I’ll do something nice for her tonight, this weekend, next month, on her birthday…later.

When I think about the vows I’ve written for our renewal ceremony I get a little overwhelmed. Is this the time to simply thank each other for having kept the old vows, or should we try to come up with different vows, which are more representative of who we are today? Twenty-five years ago, a sweet old Pastor married us. We were scared to death he was going to forget Tricia’s name…he kept calling her Teresa. We’ve made so many promises, agreed to so many vows, that I wasn’t sure where to start this time. Frankly, I’m not totally sure I know what I agreed to the first go around.

And here’s the thing, through our ups and downs, ins and outs, highs and lows, and with the occasional thrown balled up sock (that was me), we seem to be doing a pretty good job riding the wave of our first vows. And as much as I like the symbolism of making things new again, I’m pretty content with the old stuff. Then we’ll start on the next 25 years. Which we’ll take, just like the last set, one nice deed and one thrown sock at a time.