We started out young and dumb, and next week will find us middle aged and wiser.
Tuesday the Norwegian Artist and I celebrate 30 years of marriage. One man, one woman, who decided to throw our lots in together and see where our combined energy, talent, drive, and love would take us in a world that watches happy endings on movies, but never waits around to see just what it takes to keep that happiness going.
At times things seemed iffy, not because we had a problem with each other but because the people around us were convinced that we were going about things all the wrong way.
“Date nights are crucial,” we were told. “Recapture your initial time together by going out every week, alone.”
Well, our initial time together involved a lot of time alone, but most of it was spent walking and talking since we were poor college students whose major restaurant date involved sharing a cup of all-you-can-drink coffee.
Through the years we finessed our dates, eventually purchasing a coffee press and decent beans, at the same time that we continued walking, and talking. When the kids came — they just sort of arrived, one after the other — we stuffed them in a double stroller, then taught them how to ride a bike when their place was eclipsed by a new arrival. Their earliest memories involved voices over their heads, my sexy low timber and the Norwegian Artist’s rumble.
“You need to go on those weekly date nights,” we were advised. “It’s the only way that you’ll be able to communicate with one another.”
Personally, I find crowded restaurants, serving food I can easily make myself for a fifth the price, and strangers sitting (and listening) an elbow’s breadth away, to be non-conducive to serious talking.
So we did what got to be a habit with us — we ignored the voices of others and listened to each other.
Three years into our marriage we mounted bicycles and wended our way through Venezuela and Colombia, just because we could. We had our babies at home, home schooled them, lived in a renovated barn with them for two years while we built, stick by timber by sheet rocked wall, our home, and then we began a fine art painting business out of it.
Through it all, we’ve heard that what we’re doing is oddly out of the ordinary, not the norm, and unable to be accomplished, to which we smile graciously, wish our not-so-well-wisher a good day, then head out for a daily walk so that we can . . . talk.
Marriage is a good thing when you are linked with your best friend, and the best way to maintain and improve that friendship — any friendship — is to invest time in it — whenever, and however, it works for you. Maybe you like restaurants. Maybe you can afford them on a regular basis. Or maybe you like climbing mountains. Or gardening. Or watching movies and analyzing them.
But each friendship, and marriage, is different, tailored to the individuals involved, and the likelihood of success is increased — not guaranteed, because nothing in life comes with one of those — when the individuals trust in themselves enough to make the decisions that are right for them, not the ones that they are told are right for them.
Two individuals, being individuals, but choosing to do so as one.
Happy Anniversary, dear Norwegian. We grow old and idiosyncratic together.
All of the images in my articles are paintings by Steve Henderson, my Norwegian Artist, and are available as originals and/or signed, limited edition prints. We believe that art belongs in the homes of real people with real lifestyles and real budgets, and for this reason we offer our print line of high quality archival quality reproductions for decent prices, and we also offer interest-free payment plans. Find Steve’s work at www.SteveHendersonFineArt.com.