I hardly feel 34, but I’m all that and then some. What’s 34 in my life, though, is my marriage. I don’t come from a family of hugely successful marriages, and those that did make it as long as mine has were bumpy. But then, all marriages have bumps. Mine certainly does. Eating is one of them. I’m as picky as it gets when it comes to food. Joel will eat anything that’s put in front of him with the exception of liver. Funny thing is, I love liver. But I gave it up when I got married because what’s the point in cooking something nobody in the family likes? It wasn’t a big compromise. I mean, liver is just liver. Right?
The bigger thing here is the compromise. Occasionally, Joel will take me to a restaurant that serves liver if I promise never, ever to cook it again. That’s what 34 years gets you—a nice restaurant meal of beef liver while your husband sits at another table so as not to gag over your food choice.
But, 34 years is about more than a culinary compromise. It’s about ignoring the quirks. Joel overlooks my little OCD compulsions, like needing to have everything around me put in its proper place, while I overlook the fact that, after 34 years, he still can’t find his car keys. Or his phone. Or his glasses. “Dianne, do you know where I put my…” Funny thing is, I usually do know. His inconsistency is part of my consistency. It’s not the theme of the love stories I write, but I’ll bet if you could project 34 years into any one of my happily-ever-afters, there will be a few “Do you know where I put my glasses, keys, wallet, dentures, watch, phone, pants, shoes or whatever?” That’s also what 34 years gets you. And it’s not a bad thing, to be honest. Especially in my family, where 34 years is almost an impossibility.
34 years also brings with it the peace of mind that the future isn’t so imposing or unknown when your husband, wife, partner or companion is taking that journey with you. Your likes are much more the same after so many years. Or, at least, if they’re not, you’ve learned to smile and endure. Your goals are more aligned. Your expectations have turned into a parallel journey, rather then two separate ones struggling to meet somewhere along the way. And, there’s comfort. Knowing that if you forget to take your twenty pills every night before you go to bed he will bring them to you is comforting. So is the snore that wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you he’s there.
But, after 34 years, is there still excitement? Sure. Maybe it’s not always the breathless anticipation you felt when you were a newlywed, but there’s something to be said about the excitement of stumbling upon a winery you’ve never hear of and discovering it has a wine you both love or finding that secret little patch of morel mushrooms and making plans to return to that very same spot next year. What 34 years brings you is the hope that, at 35 years, your morels will still be your little secret, and that your kids will all come home every Wednesday night for dinner. And for those among your family or friends who didn’t work hard to achieve 34—and yes, it’s hard work—they’ll never know what they’ve missed. So, as Joel and I head into 35, we’ll celebrate by having dinner at the same restaurant we’ve had our anniversary dinner at for at least the past decade. I’ll order the same thing (not liver) I always order, and he’ll complain because they discontinued his favorite beer the way he complains about that every year. 34 years is good. It’s not one of the “special” numbers you celebrate. No one will throw you a party. But then, who needs a party anyway? In all the ways that count, 34 years has been the real party.
Happy anniversary, Joel! The first 34 have been great!
By the way, I have a book coming out in August. It’s all about a couple who will definitely make it to 34 years, and go beyond that. Check it out!