Updated: Dec 21, 2020
My husband and I celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary over the weekend. Woo hoo! We actually celebrate two anniversaries every year: 1. Our official wedding date - the day we eloped and were married by a Justice of the Peace in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and 2. Our traditional wedding date - the day we recited vows to one another before a man of the cloth, in the house of God, in the presence of Almighty God, and in the company of family and friends. And yes, before the "Question of the Day" makes its way from your brain to your mouth, barring any extenuating circumstances, "Yes, I certainly do expect to receive gifts on both dates."
Each anniversary is different for us. We generally celebrate the second one (the traditional church wedding) in grander fashion than the first. For example, one year, we booked a five-star hotel on the beach and just enjoyed ourselves. We didn't even count pennies! Now that's close to a miracle for my husband. We recklessly threw caution to the wind, raided the hotel snack bar, and dined out every evening. On the nights when we didn't find a suitable restaurant, we ordered room service just for the heck of it. We shared a bottle of white wine, I don't know why I have an aversion to red wine, but I do; went skeet shooting, and cuddled in discreet corners of the hotel lobby while listening to live music and watching the waters push up against the shoreline. It was the most peace I'd experienced in years. I think I fell in love with him again during those few days together.
And then there was an anniversary that . . . well . . . almost wasn't. Our marriage was in an upheaval. I don't even think I wanted to be married at the time. At this juncture in our marriage, Byron's job would send him away often. That didn't help our marriage. By this time, we'd discussed separating with the intent to divorce and I honestly couldn't see how we would stay together. I couldn't see how our marriage could be saved. Our situation seemed hopeless. I remember driving him to the airport one morning and dropping him off so he could make his flight on time. I pulled into the drop off lane, got out of the car, and went to the back of the car to help him with his suitcases. As I reached up to close the trunk, he was struggling to balance his luggage, rearranging them so he could comfortably manage each piece. I refused to help him. And when he turned toward me, I said in the most nonchalant, uncaring, spiteful manner: "Happy Anniversary." I did it with just the right amount of drama, having waited for this moment since we woke up on separate sides of the bed that morning. It was our anniversary and I knew he'd forgotten it. When he turned toward me, the look in his eyes reflected a thousand "I'm so sorry's" and a thousand and one "Please don't leave me for this mistake, Babe's." He began to cry as he leaned in to kiss me. I offered him my cheek, and made my way to the car's driver's side. I didn't even look to see if he actually managed to balance his luggage after all. I didn't care. I drove off.
This year, we celebrated our wedding anniversary in the middle of a pandemic and in the midst of racial upheaval and unrest. I wasn't very comfortable with doing anything that meant we had to go outside of our home. Sure, we took part in a protest and my husband had to leave our home everyday for work, but I still didn't want to go to a hotel, or have a private drink with him in a public place, or even be around other people. So this year, for the first of our two wedding anniversaries, we decided to order in from a local, award-winning restaurant. We both ditched our basketball shorts and sweats for a little more business casual look, and believe it or not, I actually wore a bra and put on makeup! We ordered the movie, "The High Note" starring Tracie Ellis Ross, and we ate ourselves silly while cuddled up on the couch . . . together and in love. We weren't at a chef's table with white linens, nor were we at the kitchen table drawing up separation papers and discussing how we would navigate through alimony payments and child visits. We were together, laughing at Tracie Ellis Ross and taking turns predicting what would happen in the next movie scene. We were happy, healthy, in love, and with each other.
Every year, we contemplate how we will celebrate our two wedding anniversaries. We try to keep the first celebration a little low-key and save the bigger celebration for our traditional wedding day but if it was up to me, I'd paint the town red on both anniversary days! I love grand gestures! I love when the waiter comes around in his black and white attire during a seven-course meal and changes the linens between each course while referring to me as "madam" instead of "miss." I love waking up to a burning fireplace and venturing out onto the balcony in the middle of a snowstorm, and then taking a luxurious bath in a stand alone, sterile-white, soaking tub complete with scented bubbles and candlelight, and then dressing for breakfast.
There was none of that this past weekend, and yet I still had a wonderful time celebrating our marriage.
There are a lot of disheartening statistics that tell us the divorce rate during this time of sheltering in place has drastically increased. During an unprecedented time in history, a fearful and critical time in our Nation and our world, our hope is the ties that bind marriages together would be strengthened. It seems the opposite is taking place.
Please, may I ask a favor of you? Would you take some time to appreciate the small things in your marriage? In your relationship? Be grateful he still finds you attractive and keeps slapping you on the behind when you pass by him. Be grateful she wants to hold your hand when the two of you are taking that early morning drive to the grocery store and you still have crust in your eyes and heat on your breath. I am thankful that if I am stuck in the house, I am stuck in the house with the man I love. A man I can enjoy. The only person who can talk about my momma and make me laugh about it. I am grateful to be married to a man who makes me giggle, even though I don't want to because he's way beyond corny. I love having a man who would take a bullet for me . . . a man who would absorb every pain I had if he could. I am grateful for a husband who kisses me when he leaves for work in the morning, even if I don't remember him doing it.
What are some of the small things you appreciate about your partner? Take some time to remember those little things this week, and then tell your mate how much you appreciate them. Tell them every day this week.
Listen, I love grand gestures, but what I love most is sharing a love that is grand!
I love marriage!