Had you told me back when I was a young man that I would not only make it to 49 (which I will be in 3 days), but that I would make it to 25 years married to a person, I would have laughed right in your face. The fact of the matter was that I believed I wouldn’t make it to 40, much less find anyone who could put up with me for longer than a couple of months at anyone time. Lori, Susie, Wendy, Heather, Denise, Michelle, Sharon (Three times, because I am an idiot.) Jan (the rebound from Sharon, because I. AM. AN. IDIOT.)
…and then there was Kim.
I remember in fall of 1993, asking Mom what she thought about maybe possibly thinking that maybe possibly I might think about proposing to Kim, and I don’t think I got the sentence out. Its possible she wet herself. I don’t know what she actually thought because she became non-verbal and what ensued were a series of squeaks and unintelligible babble that sounded positive. I wouldn’t know for sure until Kim and I were invited to dinner with the folks, and Dad piped up halfway through his Caesar Salad and gestured with his fork “So, is this going to be a thing?”
And that’s when I knew for sure I was marrying Kim, because we had achieved “A Thing™”.
We were married on 7/21/1994. Kim got sick in the Spring of 94, and was taking an antibiotic. We did not realize that antibiotics pretty much nuke your birth control pills, so we had our first child, Colin, In Jan of 95. Then came Devin in Nov 96, and finally Morrigan in Oct 99. I’m happy to report that all three children have managed to grow up pretty well despite their Dad being an idiot.
Our Marriage can be divided into two parts. Before September 15, 2005, and After September 15th, 2005. It could also be called ‘Overgrown Manchild Kris’, and ‘Whoa I need to get my shit together Kris’. The reasons I needed to get my shit together, and the lengths I have gone to amalgamate my feces is a story for another time. This isn’t about me, it’s about Kim and I.
Over 25 years, I have learned a few things, and I have had some things crowbarred into my skull. IN either event, I have retained quite a bit of that knowledge, and I’d like to share some of that with you.
If you have to ask yourself “Is this worth arguing about?”, it’s not worth arguing about.
Respect the idea of ‘Neutral Corners”. Incidentally, all the ‘Tiny Homes” people I see on HGTV are for the most part young and must not think this concept is important. It is very important. They will come to realize this, and that is when this craze of two or more people (kids? really?) living in a phone booth will mercifully end.
Find something you both like to do together, and make time to go do that thing together. I can’t tell you how much going out and shooting photos with the wife has changed things for the better.
You absolutely do NOT have to do everything together. Find something you like to do on your own.
Have kids? Going out and being a adult is just as important raising teens as it is raising infants. Maybe more so. Get out of the house and be adults for a couple of hours on the regular.
You’re going to argue. It’s not the end of the world.
Kim has a thing about crickets, I have a thing about spiders. We have a deal. That, in a nutshell, is teamwork.
There are some things that our prudish culture tells you that you probably shouldn’t do before you get married. Those people are not you, and I think what they preach perpetuates unhappiness. So, to put it bluntly: Shack up and Fuck. You are not going to know if you are REALLY compatible unless you do.
In that same vein, there are no small number of people, some of them possibly related to you, that will presume to know how you should run your marriage and will try to tell you what they would do ‘if they were you’. This is especially true if you have what we’ll call ‘an unorthodox marriage’. They are not you. Make sure they get the memo, and then lose them if they ignore the memo.
If you are parents of special needs kids, especially young kids: You’re going to have relatives and neighbors that don’t understand how different your family life is, and it can be remarkably isolating. There’s a lot of things raising a family of special needs children that are so far removed from the normal I don’t have the time or the inclination to list them here. Find your backbone, stick together, and remember this: So many marriages fail because they are special needs families, or catastrophic accidents that require long term care. My family has lived through both these things. Yes, it’s a nightmare. You. Can. Do. It. Even more so than the last point, do not just lose people that ignore the memo, delight in telling those people to fuck off.
I haven’t worn a ring in years. I know I’m married, and if you don’t already know that, ask and I’ll tell you. This usually isn’t an issue, because I talk about Kim all the time. Exactly two people in 25 years have called me out on not wearing a ring, and only one of them was upset that I didn’t…I dunno, advertise?
Your partner is going to find other humans attractive. You can either be insulted by this or you can laugh about it.
I think the one indication of a strong relationship is if you’re laughing uncontrollably while asking yourselves what the fuck you were thinking when you did (insert thing here) were you were young and stupid. Yes, the act of getting married is an acceptable answer if you think it’s funny.
So the guy least likely to do ANY of this, did it. I’ve done a lot of things I am proud of. My wife and my kids are the best thing that ever happened to me, and that we have made it through ALL of the back story is what I am most proud of.
I wish that for you.