Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Decade of Love

It’s common knowledge, especially among the women in my life, that my wife is a very lucky woman. I’m not going to argue with that but I will point out that being married to me for 10 years is not as easy as it may seem (you will remember that the longest any woman lasted previously was 11 months). I have been thinking a lot lately and have come to realize that I don’t deserve full credit for this decade of wedded bliss. Surely Stacy deserves some credit, has done some things right. Indeed she did not stop making good decisions the day she chose me.

At times like this over-statement is tempting and superlatives are expected. She is the best this, the fastest that and on and on. Well I promise you that I cannot overstate what Stacy has done for me, how important she is to my ability to thrive. When we met, I was depressed, lost and about to marry the wrong person. Yes, I had managed to muddle my way to Hamline University and yes, I would have graduated with a respectable GPA.  After all, I am plenty smart and prideful.  “Well, Tom, if you are plenty smart and prideful then what, exactly, did Stacy do for you?”  First of all, I didn’t know at the time that I was plenty smart. Or rather that some people weren’t. I just assumed that everyone who applied at Hamline was accepted and that everyone who wanted to could get at least a 3.0. I wanted to, is all, because my professors knew my name and I would’ve been embarrassed to get a C. 

If I had met Stacy earlier would I be a doctor or something now? I don’t know and this isn’t about me anyway. Here’s what’s important:  The fact that we can seriously consider that question tells you what you need to know about Stacy.  That simply by being her friend I was going to be more successful than I would’ve been without her.  

We met my first year at Hamline. It was my fourth year of college but, because I had transferred from a community college, I was a few credits short of being a junior. After a few months, Stacy, recognizing something in me that I don’t know anyone else had, had me enrolled in summer school, on track to graduate a full six months before I thought it was possible, and enrolled in a senior honor’s seminar with her. And she has never quit working her magic with me.  For one thing, I am a writer now. And whereas what skill I have comes from me, the certain knowledge that I can do it comes from her. I have dear, dear friends without whom I may not have survived my lower moments. But before Stacy, I never believed that I could do more than survive; that I could thrive.  She doesn’t give huge motivational speeches.  She does it by putting things in front of me and expecting that I’ll do them- because she knows I can. And she does it by working so hard that any non-dipshit man in her life must do the same.  She does it by not being surprised when I do good things.  She does it by being “on my side” no matter what.

I think I’ve written before that we don’t celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with presents and cards.  Because each of us was stung in our first try at marriage, we decided to forgo those things and concentrate on being nice and respectful to each other every damn day instead; to say “I love you” every day; to not ever raise our voices in anger.  I won’t say that you should do those things, too. Of course you should respect your mate but how you choose to show it is no business of mine. But I will tell you that our system works for us. Sure, we do things that make each other crazy, but it’s much more fun to giggle at those things than to fight about them. And how do you giggle at things that make you crazy?  You do it by knowing without so much as an inkling of doubt that you are married to the perfect person for you. Therefore it follows that those maddening things are nothing more than silly idiosyncrasies and not the essence of the person whom you married. 

Real-life intrudes, even on love letters, and I must wrap this up. I could go on and on about my wife though. She is the best.  And she has taught me this lesson, which I recently told my five year-old after she asked me whom she would marry:  “If you get married it has to be to someone who makes you a better person, like mommy does for me. Otherwise it’s a huge waste of time.”

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