Carole and I tied the knot on Saturday, September 13, 1997. Thursday of this week is the 21st anniversary of that date. We are still married despite being two of the most contrary, argumentative jackasses who ever fell off the turnip truck.
Marriage has not worked out the way I thought it would. I imagine marriage usually doesn’t. For anyone. Expectations are high, and reality’s a bitch.
For example, I had hoped we’d have kids. We never did, and it’s definitely too late now. I’m about to be 51 (we got married one week before my 30th birthday), and Carole’s coming up on 48. Even if we somehow could get Carole pregnant, I sure as heck don’t want to be that 70-year-old guy at my son or daughter’s high school graduation. That’s just weird.
Why didn’t we have kids?
We never got around to having kids because:
- I travel for work. A lot. It wouldn’t be fair to stick Carole with 95% of the work of raising a child. Yes, I could theoretically have changed jobs, but for a lot of reasons, that probably wouldn’t have been as easy or wise as it might sound.
- When Carole’s employed, it’s often in an accounting-type position, and even if you’re not working for a CPA firm doing taxes, accountants tend to work long hours. Could Carole have stopped working and become a stay-at-home mom? Hypothetically, yes — but trust me when I say that wouldn’t have been a good fit for her, personality-wise.
- We’re both assholes. And we both suffer from depression. And Carole has some form of anxiety disorder. And we’ve both got anger management problems. Do you really want to see what a combination of our genes would be like?
We have had a lot of good times and a lot of bad times.
I can say with some truth that when neither of us is sulking or angry or put out about something, we’re pretty good friends to one another. And that’s something that a lot of married couples can’t say, frankly. (Although a lot can. I’m not saying we’re unique.) And I’m glad about that.
I wish we hadn’t had as many fights as we had. I was told that the key to a successful marriage is “don’t go to bed angry”. Well, one or both of us has gone to bed angry quite a few nights over the years. We sort of specialize in it.
It may be partly due to running a marriage via phone call and text message. It’s hard to know when would be a good time to call or text — I seem to have an uncanny knack for calling just when Carole is really stressed out about something or just going to the bathroom or when she’s in the middle of a TV show or … a lot of things.
And it may also be learned behavior — my parents had loud shouted arguments all the damn time when I was a kid. Carole’s parents didn’t shout as much as mine did, but according to her, sniping and scoring points through bitchy, catty comments directed at one’s family members was considered absolutely normal.
We do care about each other. We just suck at showing it. Most of the time, anyway.
Financially, we’re in pretty good shape. We’re both working, our only debt right now is our mortgage and the loan for the solar panels on the roof, and we’re easily able to make our monthly loan payments. We’re putting a decent amount of money aside for retirement, and we’re both in moderately good health, other than my off-the-charts high blood pressure. We don’t lack for anything and we’re able to afford some of the nice things in life, like our Baltic Sea cruise back in August or the hot tub we just had installed out front of the house.
Really, we don’t have a lot of what you could call problems. Other than the ones we manufacture for ourselves, and I doubt we’ll ever break the habit of doing that.
I love Carole, and I think she loves me. And somehow or another, we’ve outlasted a lot of marriages that outwardly seemed to have more going for them than ours does. If you want your marriage to last, you’ve got to be willing to work hard on occasion, and I guess we’ve cared enough to put in the effort.
The odds may have been against our marriage lasting 21 years, but sometimes, odd couples do work out.