Our “Sweet Sixteen” Anniversary

My wife and I got married on July 13, 1999, in Clarksville, Tennessee. 16 years and two children later, we are celebrating our anniversary here in El Paso, Texas.

The Army is a big reason we are here at this time, otherwise we would not be. This is part of a longer vacation as my wife prepares to deploy in a few months. We added Fort Bliss to the trip because we are likely going to be stationed here soon and we often like to go ahead of time to get a feel of where we’re going so it isn’t completely brand new when we get there.

However, this isn’t about all that. It’s about some of my feelings as I sit here today.

I have always wanted to be married. Always. Ever since I knew what the word meant, it’s something I had always dreamed of. Of course, the older I became, the more I understood that marriage was a lot more than just what I saw on television. As a young child growing up in extreme poverty, I’ll admit that the “happily ever after” did enter into my mind many times in these dreams.

Speaking of television, that is what so heavily contributed to my dream of wanting to get married. Growing up in Baltimore, I personally knew practically no one who was married. Even to this day, very few of my family members are married.

The reason I mention that is not to put anyone down, but because at one point in my life, I began to wonder just how I would be as a husband. What exactly would marriage be to me? How would things go? I was old enough by then to understand that “happily ever after” was simply a myth, so I thought about how things would have gone for me. That is, if I were to have gotten married at all. Of course by that time, I also learned what divorce was, so yes…growing up for me was in full swing.

I began to picture my future wife. Of course, every girl I had a crush on late in my high school years and even shortly after I joined the Army in 1997 were potential candidates. The dreams of “happily ever after” still crept in every once in a while, but with only television as a basic guideline, even as a young adult, I had very little idea of what being married would be like for me.

Not to mention, I’ve also always wanted children. Yes, always to that one, too. I’m quite a strange man.

Fast forward to today. My wife and I will both admit that we did not see each other as marriage material back when we first met. We were not only in different worlds, but we were coming from them as well. I can’t speak for her, but if you told me back in 1995 as a 16-year-old, as I pictured any one of my future wives, “Hey Robert, I know who you think you’re gonna marry, but the woman is actually going to a be a short, country white girl from Iowa, and oh, by the way, in 2015, you will have been married for sixteen years and counting,” I would have thought you were crazy.

Today, I feel very blessed. I am certainly far from the perfect husband, but to have learned this pretty much on my own is something I feel I should be very proud of. Obviously my wife had some “learning” to do as well, but I think it’s a little different, because her parents are both married and she was able to grow up around them and many other married couples. When I got married, “Happily Ever After” was pretty much non-existent. I realized what was ahead could be an amazing thing, but as a mature 20-year-old, I was a little more aware of the responsibility that came with it.

I know that all the clichés that come with having been married this long are complete bull to a lot of people, but that’s likely only to those who only wish they could experience even half of what my wife and I have. I thought so as well before I got married. Hearing things like “She gets more and more beautiful each day” just made me gag. So I do get it.

However, today, I proudly do say that about my wife, Jill. We have been through a LOT. WAY more than I ever expected to experience when I dreamed of marriage as a child. But she has gotten more and more beautiful each day. That’s not the same as saying that she is “perfect” by any means. Of course not. It is to say that at the beginning of our marriage, we obviously knew much less about each other than we do now. It’s about way more than physical appearance. How she has grown as a person, the way she has been here for me and supported me in the ways she has is what adds to how beautiful she is to me and how she gets more each day.

I’ll admit that I’m sometimes reluctant to speak about that, because some bitter women have the tendency to assume that in saying that, our marriage has been held together solely by her and that I’m just some bumbling idiot who should be thankful. My wife is far from perfect and she has made her mistakes, some pretty big ones, just as I have. But marriage isn’t about how long you can go without making mistakes. It’s about how handle them and recover from them. Besides, it would serve me no purpose whatsoever to sit here and blast her for every mistake she’s ever made. Even if we both listed each mistake the other has made during or marriage, it won’t change anything between us. It would just give the lonely gossipers something to yap about, or to say things like, “See? your marriage isn’t perfect!”

No shit, Sherlock. Thanks for the breaking news.

When people talk about someone bein “perfect,” I’ve always said that “perfect” isn’t a lack of mistakes, contrary to what many seem to think. It is that a person is “perfect” for YOU. Our marriage is “perfect” FOR US. Not perfect as in “zero mistakes.” Hell, even the most bitter and jealous person should understand at least that much. It’s like people who always look at someone’s partner and immediate size them up. Why? That person isn’t with you.

You’ve likely noticed the picture at the beginning of this blog post. That is not a random picture I pulled off the net. Those hands belong to me and my wife. So obviously, you’ve also noticed (as mentioned earlier) that we are different races. 

Heh, I could do an entire blog post on that one alone, so I’ll spare it for right now.

Anyway, even though I could not have imagined things going the way they have for us, I would not change a thing. There is not another person I can think of who would be a better wife (for ME) or anyone I would have rather gone through the last sixteen years with. I also cannot imagine going through the next hopefully MANY years with anyone else.

To sum it up, married life has not gone as I imagined as a child that it would. It has gone  so much better.

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