Yesterday was our 21st anniversary. We had an amazing dinner at our favorite restaurant, Roy's, earlier in the week. It's a once a year sort of place, but is well worth it!
Last year, we were on an airplane headed to Seattle with the kids.
Lee was pretty brave in marrying me. We came from very different sorts of families. His was stable, his parents had been married for 35+ years (celebrated their 50th in 2002), and he'd gotten support in just about any venture he was interested in. Mine, on the other hand, was unstable from the get-go. I don't know whether my mom was ever happy. She wasn't depressed, but just always seemed as though she'd rather be doing something else with a different group of people. My dad was manic depressive and an alcoholic. Boy did we put the fun in dysfunctional.
One thing I think young people forget, is you aren't just marrying the person you choose, you are marrying their family as well. You are marrying their drama and the drama of their family. If I had been Lee's parents, I would have been lighting candles and sacrificing animals to keep him from marrying me.
I hadn't finished college and soon had to drop out of school to support myself. My parents divorced when I was 19 and I needed a place to live. I wasn't encouraged to live with either one of them to say the least. I also came into our relationship with the burden of caring for my mentally ill, physically ill, and jobless father. I didn't live with him, but he no longer had anyone in the world but me. He was in and out of the hospital and finally had to enter a nursing home. All this before Lee ever proposed marriage. He was out of his mind! "Run, Forrest, Run!".
Here we are 21 years later. He's had many hurdles to jump in our marriage. He has taught me that the only successful marriage is one in which both partners are willing to compromise. It cannot flourish until both parties are willing to come to the middle on every important issue. It cannot flourish unless both parties are happy with the compromise. One cannot win over the other. He had to teach me that. In my house, you fought to win. It shouldn't be a struggle. We agreed on so many important things (spending habits, basic beliefs about humanity, church, saving habits), that he chose to overlook my family drama and marry me anyway.
He won me over to a better way of looking at life. One in which there is hope and compromise. We still have our arguments, but we work them out. We work to uphold each other. No one wins at the expense of the other. It has never been, and will never be, "My way or the highway." I am always heard and always respected.
Thank you, Lee. For marrying me. For being patient. For teaching me that marriage can be a place of happiness and strength. For showing me that there can be no true balance if one of us wins and one of us looses.