Dancing at Disneyland

Today is my 33rd wedding anniversary. Over the years several people have told me I have the happiest marriage that they have seen. They usually act like we are lucky – as if a happy marriage can just happen. I am writing today to confirm that I also think I have the happiest marriage that I have seen, as well as the fact that it isn’t luck at all. It is a lot of work, and it is worth every effort!!

The title, Dancing at Disneyland, comes from the attached video. Kimberly put it together as a gift for Mark on Father’s Day. It has a few photos from 1989 and then jumps to 2007-present, just scratching the surface of our lives together. I watch it all the time because I love it. I love Mark but I also love our relationship.

Ok – my entire post was written but wouldn’t publish. So I lost it.. Kinda tired of typing but I will try to rewrite… Perhaps with a bit less flourish than I felt originally…. Here are some lessons that we learned (mostly before we were married) that have helped us and can probably anyone.

While dating I took Mark to meet my Grandpa Lee. He talked to us about being equally yoked. Like a team of oxen need to be equally yoked to carry their burdens as smoothly as possible. I have always thought we fit this description rather well. Through the years some of our strengths have equalled out as we have influenced each others lives, but even from our early times together I could see that we had been raised in similar homes with similar parenting principles. We both have a college education. We are both easily entertained – taking walks, watching sunsets, etc. We both attended church and had the same standards. We fell in love, but we also really liked each other.

While engaged we were asked to speak in church and our topic was building a successful marriage! We were rather embarrassed to be addressing a room full of married people when we hadn’t ever been married. The congregation liked our talks and told us we would do well if we could live by the principles we taught. I remember only one thing from my talk – I said that there was no room for selfishness in marriage. Any human on the planet can attest that giving up selfishness is a life-long pursuit, but if you have ever tried it you will know that it is worth it, especially when trying to build a relationship! Always worth it!

Mark and I both like to be right. We were driving together one day, I can see us in his little VW Bug slowing down as we took the Madonna Road offramp. Our conversation had come to an I-told-you-so moment. I was probably the one being right…. hahaha. Anyway, we determined right then that we should take these moments out of our relationship. That trying to be “right” shouldn’t be so important. We haven’t been perfect at this, but I have never forgotten that conversation and our resolve to work together to be careful and thoughtful in our conversations. Always worth it!

Right after we were married I heard a story. I don’t remember the source but it went something like this… A young couple decided that they would be happier if the other person could make some changes. They sat down to write a list of ten things they would like each other to change. The wife wrote her ten items and they exchanged lists. She hoped her husband would be willing to make the changes she had suggested, but then she opened her paper and read the one line that he had written, “I love you.” As I listened to the story I had been mentally writing my list of ten items for Mark. But then it was the husband’s list, or lack of list, that had a great impact on me. We had probably been married less than two months and we were trying to get used to each other. At that moment I began to practice not being bothered by little things, but rather thinking, “Well, this is the man I love so I will just love that about him… here we go…” Always worth it!

Mark’s determination to have a happy home is probably the most important part of our relationship. As a teen and young adult he watched family and friends get married and bicker over little things. He thought it was silly and determined that he would not do that. I can attest that he has lived with me and all of my quirkiness and yet remained. Calm, patient, and long-suffering. He has been a good example for me. It’s the determination. Always worth it!

Our relationship is the joy of my life, but it is not perfect. We are flawed individuals, but we are working on it daily. Together we have weathered storms and survived a few rocky times, financial setbacks, health issues, six children in ten years, cross-country moves, tears, laughter and lots of good food. We are best friends.

Happy 33 to us! Celebrate with us and click to watch Kimberly’s 1 minute video.

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