This weekend we celebrated our 7th anniversary. It’s amazing when you start a marriage at mid-life, how it accelerates like dog years. That’s what my husband says. As our friends celebrate their 30th and 40th anniversaries – he says we may be having our Golden anniversary soon. I know he’s joking, but there’s some truth to it.
No question that as we get older, time accelerates. And when you get married at mid-life – you’ve jumped into the river at full steam – rapids, pools, reverse currents and all.
So, it should be no surprise that what happened last year or the year before is not a blue print for what lies ahead. But hey, if you’re a creature of habit (especially for the feel good stuff), like cards, gifts, and a little special attention on let’s say, – your anniversary, well then it’s hard not to have some expectations.
The way it’s gone for the past 6 anniversaries is we plan a special activity together at our house where we were married on Martha’s Vineyard. My husband is easy going and he has never missed an opportunity to make me feel adored on this special day.
But now that it’s year 7 it seems that there are a few little wrinkles around the edges -and not just around the eyes. My simple suggestion about an activity which normally gets the big nod, is now sprinkled with a tad of pushback.
Comfort and happiness come in many guises, and so on our 7th anniversary, we celebrated as usual, but this time it ran a bit differently.
It started at sunrise with him in a full snore as the morning light seeped in. Not wanting to wake my darling, I grabbed my camera, but tripped over my flip flops and the wind slammed the bedroom door closed behind me — oops.
As I started photographing the light coming up, the mist on the water and of course my dog Jazz, I thought — “Bill should be here with me — I want to share this.”
I landed next to him on the bed with a soft kiss – he didn’t budge (hmmmm, “he’s immune” I thought, so I gave him a “little” nudge and he sat up and just looked at me.
“Sorry, my love but it’s our day, let’s go get it.”
“Of course, happy anniversary. I need a minute. I’m not up, let me take a hot tub and get some coffee — just give me some time,” he sweetly pleaded.
“I want to share this morning splendor with you on our special day,” I sweetly countered. We were walking moments later with our coffee to the water’s edge to greet this day together.
“What a gem he is,” I thought.
And that’s pretty much how the day went.
I suggested, he acquiesced, and we played out our perfect day.
Sunrise together, coffee and breakfast and hot tub, tennis and beach time and dinner — all sweet and lovely except this year — year 7 well…..Here’s what was different:
As I rinsed out our morning coffee cups and laid them on the counter my husband watched me adoringly or so I thought until he said…
“How long does it take to put the dishes away – why do you leave the rinsed dishes on the counter to dry?.”
As he dried my washed dishes that lay on the counter – he proudly proclaimed, “you have to admit this looks so much better.”
“How annoying,” I thought.
And then there was the perfect hot tub moment. As we sat in the hot tub with our coffee, talking about our year, my eye caught the overgrown pine tree that we’d been talking about taking down for the past 3 years. Its’ needles always stick and rot onto the outdoor shower floor and it’s a nuisance. Our dreamy little moment was starting to diverge and we were now walking a new path. For the next 45 minutes we talk about tree removal, and “argued” about what should stay and what gets removed.
“Really you want to take down that tree?”, he said.
“Well – yes – I’d love to open up the space, it feels a little overgrown there.”
“Do you realize how expensive it is to take down trees?”
I try to keep my “tone” in check as I say, — “Yes, my love, I actually do. (I paid the bills for 22 years in my first marriage – I’m no nubie to gardening expenses).
But then I smarten up, put my arm around him and remind him… “This is our favorite place on earth – and it needs a trim. A little pruning is a good thing.”
I’m sure he will be agreeing soon.
And unlike our first 6 years of gifting back and forth – We begin our walk around and look at every tree from all the angles and talk about trimming – removing and replanting. We are wrapped in our towels deep into our pruning negotiation.
And so it goes. As we tend to our garden – I realize we are one – we are a unit now. It’s not me trying to figure out how he thinks or me negotiating for him to spend a little more on our place – it’s our moment of trimming and pruning together. And it feels perfect.
So, when we walked into town on this special day, and he told me he had to go to the bookstore and pick up “something,” I was quiet. I gave him his space and sat outside on the park bench. I smiled knowingly as I visualized him panicked, speed reading through anniversary cards. And then he emerged from the store with a grin and I saw a card not so cleverly hidden in his back pocket. I couldn’t wait to read his beautiful words which I knew I would be presented with by days end.
Timing isn’t always everything — He is. And that seems just right.