It seems that, as of today, Dirtman and I have been married 20 years.
I remember when I was a teenager, “20 years ago” seemed like the “olden days.” Twenty-year-old pictures looked so old and the people dressed so differently. Now twenty years ago doesn’t seem so far in the past, which explains why women my age have no problem trotting out our shoulder-padded blazers with the push-up sleeves and think we look current.
Twenty years married impresses most of our peers and anyone younger. Divorce became mainstream with my generation, a phenomenon that has its good and bad aspects. I’ve known plenty of long-wed couples where the abuse of one party should have ended the union long ago. So longevity doesn’t impress me much.
On the other hand, I’ve watches marriages fall a part simply because that initial wash of hormones wore off and suddenly life was merely…well…ordinary.
I’d like to say that Dirtman and I are still together because each of us is the paragon of what a husband and wife should be. But we aren’t. I can be vengeful, spiteful and biting when cornered. I’m no picnic to be with when I’m tired or hungry. I have to have coffee in the morning – taupe, not beige. And I hate talking on the phone and go to great lengths to force other people to make calls for me. Dirtman misses the hamper all the time.
So we’re two flawed people. And life is ordinary most of the time. I guess we happen to be two people willing to accept that. Are we always madly in love? No. But I love what one woman said was the reason her marriage lasted 75 years: Neither one of them fell out of love at the same time.
But I’ll admit there are very specific reasons that I, for one, stuck around for twenty years. And they’re very basic reasons and, if you must know, mistakes I see men make with their wives constantly; mistakes that eat away at any foundation to the relationship that had been built.
For one thing, never, at any time, no matter what weight I was, what my hair looked like, what my clothing looked like, has Dirtman ever made me feel ugly. I never felt I had to lose weight for him, dress for him, cut my hair for him. Women know when they don’t look good and the last thing they need if for the one person on the planet who is supposed to love them unconditionally making their appearance a criteria for affection. We say it doesn’t matter or we “appreciate the honesty.” But what we want is to be looked at through the eyes of love, not judgment.
Dirtman has never criticized anything I wanted to do, and I’ve had some pretty out-there schemes. He put up with my nuclear holocaust/economic collapse/Y2K hoarding and never once laughed. He supported me through my homesteading phase and put up with a totally useless goat I made him pay too much for. He doesn’t give in to everything, but he doesn’t make me feel like an idiot. I can do that all by myself, thank you.
He learned to love my dogs and never, no matter how broke we were, accused them of being the cause. He learned to love Italian food. He took in my father when he was ill and accompanied me to every hospital bed I had to stand by or funeral I had to attend.
He yells – a lot. But never at me. He has never insulted me or degraded me or called me names. It goes without saying he’s never hit me or threatened to hit me.
And he’s always made me feel safe, even though that’s not even his job. But he knows that’s important to me, so he does.
Now, as to why Dirtman has stuck with me for twenty years? I guess you’d have to ask him. Perhaps he just had nothing better to do.
Happy Anniversary, Sparkey, from your Sicilian Gnome.