Recently, my husband and I celebrated 21 years of wedded bliss. Twenty-one years of marriage means I’ve been married to my husband for longer than I lived at home with my parents. It means that, at just short of 42 years old, I’ve been married for half of my life. It means I’ve been married my ENTIRE ADULT LIFE. This year, I took a moment to let that sink in.

See, I’m usually not super nostalgic when it comes to anniversaries and birthdays. I grew up in a military family and married a military man, which means we celebrate while moving, while separated by deployments, during work trips, shift work, and now – a pandemic. This year, though, I realized that we’ve been married kind of a long time. We are now to that point when people say, “Wow, 21 years! How have you kept your marriage together for that long?”

So…I decided to pose this question to my husband.

The Good…

On our anniversary we sat on our driveway, in our fold-out chairs, sipping our favorite cold beverages, and discussed what makes it all work for us. As we did, we relived special moments. We talked about that time when we spent a week in St. Lucia, soaking up the sun and sand and delicious food. We talked about all those times we spent camping and hiking in the mountains of Big Sky country. We remembered our vacations and weekend trips to both beautiful and interesting places. And we talked about those big celebrations etched in our memories: his return from deployment, our first big promotions, and of course, our additions as we built our beautiful family of four.

The Bad…

We revisited the sad times, too. Jobs that didn’t turn out the way we expected. Sicknesses that struck us unexpectedly. We remembered the friends we had lost over the years. And we talked about the times when our love wasn’t as obvious and overflowing and we struggled. As we sat there reminiscing, we realized that 21 years of marriage means lots of good… and well, lots of bad.

21 years of marriage has taught us a few things and here’s a few of the things we decided, as we sat on our driveway, that help make it work.

Things We’ve Learned…

  1. We CHOOSE LOVE! Whether we feel it or not, we choose it every day. We know that THIS IS A PARTNERSHIP. When one of us is struggling and weak, the other will step up and be strong.

2. We know that we decide to work together because there really is no winner or loser. We either WIN TOGETHER OR LOSE TOGETHER.

3. We realize that we CAN’T COMPARE OURSELVES to other couples because we aren’t them and they aren’t us. What works for one couple doesn’t always work for us.

4. We know that we must BE EACH OTHER’S BIGGEST SUPPORTER and encourager. Support each other’s goals and interests, even when they are different.

5. We must SHARE THE GOOD AND THE BAD, no matter how hard it seems. We don’t take our problems to social media or talk badly to our friends about each other. Problems most often begin and end with the two of us.

6. We TALK OFTEN ABOUT OUR FUTURE, our goals, our struggles, and our dreams. WE map out OUR future… because it is OUR future together.

7. And finally, maybe most important to us, we LAUGH TOGETHER. We have made laughter the soundtrack of our marriage. It is how we celebrate the good and get through the bad.

So, as we sat on our driveway, talking, sipping, and watching our kids laughing and playing, we said “yes” to each other again. The first 21 years hasn’t been perfect, but it has been our version of perfect, and we wouldn’t change it – the good or the bad. We look forward to 21 more years — knowing that we will choose love, we will support each other, we will share it all, and we will keep our dreams and future in focus!

And of course, we will laugh… A LOT!

21 years