What Works at Year 20

I can tell you with all honesty when I met the man who would become (and is now) my husband it was instant dislike.

He insulted me and I had zero problem telling him to f--um... no thank you (yeah, that's what I said) and to be frank, it's a wonder any future happened at all.

Fate didn't accept that first meet and greet though and sometime during the course of eating late night chips and salsa with my sisters, a car trip to Aberdeen and countless emails - things changed. If you ask Mike, he'll tell you he fell in love with my writing (him, thousands of emails.) If you ask me, I'll tell you I fell in love with a hot football player. (What can I say, I'm shallow like that.)

It was during my senior year of college that, after dating for two years, we would go back to NSU for Gypsy Days so Mike could take it in the way the "regular people do" and on a walk through campus and he would propose before the game. Fast forward a few years and we would eventually adopt Mike's ideal hunting dog and name her Gypsy after that infamous day.

(Yes, this is the Gypsy that is still with us today, if you know our [now] deaf but lovable dog.)

We got married on Memorial Day weekend because it was one of two days that the church was available... (hmmmm, I wonder why?) in the year 2000 because Mike always swore he would get married in that year so he would always know how long he had been married. Little did he realize anniversaries would become something we didn't give two figs about starting with the first one... but you'll have to keep reading for that detail.

So in May of 2000, I finished my finals during the first week of that month, became an official college grad and then ended the month by getting married.

Looking back on it, it's a wonder I knew my own name.

But we did it. We started life together that May. And by the time our first anniversary arrived, Nolan had shown up nine days before his predicted due date and celebrating something as silly as a wedding anniversary seemed so trivial when we could instead stare and marvel at the tiny human that the hospital had thoughtfully sent home with us.

Anniversaries one through nine became just a day stuffed in between celebrating Nolan's birthday and Memorial Day camping or picnics or whatever was on the agenda that wasn't celebrating another year of marriage. Add in two more kids, and any number of pets to the mix and really - we had our hands full making sure we didn't misplace a child or forget to feed a dog. Remembering to buy an anniversary card was a pressure, we agreed, that did not need to be added to the list.

When year 10 rolled around we thought (in case we didn't make it any further??) we should perhaps do something. Really, anything was better than what we had been doing, but we decided since we hadn't ever - we should go a little above. We drove to Minneapolis, had a fancy-schmancy dinner (that left both of us still hungry - shocker!) and basically talked about the kids and wondered every second what they were doing. Which promptly made us realize, we had been doing the whole "celebrating" part right all along - doing what we *actually* loved to do - which was just taking in this life we created for ourselves.

Fast forward another 10 years and we compiled more crazy onto the crazy. We built a house together and loved every. damn. second. of it. Both of us have developed a coffee addiction sometime in the last 10 years. We've traveled to (I can't keep track of how many) states. We have hiked hundreds of miles together. He has taught me countless things about the game of football and I've spent countless lessons trying to teach him proper use of which there/their/they're to use. Together, we have laughed a billion moments over the stupidest, silliest, funniest and most asinine things. We have weathered job changes, worries, funerals and hating each other's favorite NFL team.

Which leads me to present day, year 20. Life is happening today (since it's a Wednesday!) so we will roll with it. We will do work stuff and landscaping stuff and household stuff and enjoy a Charcuterie board supper (don't knock it - our love of Charcuterie boards is a common thread that bonds us against all the other people out there who demand real suppers with plates and proper forks and things.)

And if you think this whole story is just a sad tale of two people who can't even buy a card for one another on the day of their wedding each year, then I will pass along one piece of advice - don't knock what works.

Somehow, sans anniversary hoopla each year, we made it to year 20. Now if you (and your Boo) find common good in fancy-schmancy dinners and extravagant gifting - I'm not here to tell you to celebrate differently. I'm here to tell you to find what works - for you.

Marriage is tough. It can be great, sure, but it also can leave you looking at your wedding silverware and deciding which would be the best weapon. Therefore, you find what works.

I found what works for me.

I hope, because we've made it to year 20, that he found what works for him. And that we've found that - in each other.

Will we make it to see another 20? I don't have that answer - only God gets to know that. But if He's listening, my request is - God, I hope so.

To Michael - happy 20th. May these words be gift enough because....that's all you're getting. (That an my undying sarcasm for the rest of your days.) You, sir, are my thing that works. Thank you for letting me correct your grammar, for holding my hand during turbulence, for taking pictures so our life together is not just a compilation of you and the boys, for never refusing to try something I've baked and for having a hand in creating a life with me that looks nothing like the one I ever thought I wanted but is not one I would ever want to be different. If you're game for 20 more years of not celebrating anniversaries - I'm in.