As a little boy, my husband was the quintessence of every seven-year-old in 1994.
Black, straight legged jeans, light-up kicks, white turtle neck under a zipped up wind breaker.
My kind of guy.
I was picked up first and dropped off last on our bus stop, which meant I got to see his cuteness coming and going each day. Except, I didn’t find him all that intriguing as a six-year-old… but I did think his grandpa had neat glasses and I liked that he was always there waiting for Sean at the end of the day.
He sat quietly in the front of the bus while I ran like a lunatic up and down the aisle. I didn’t speak to him until we were in high school and started working together at Jimmy’s Pizza and Pasta.
We have been together for eight years and are coming up on our second wedding anniversary. We don’t have all of the answers, but something has been working for all of this time.
We see friends scramble through the dating scene that we never really had to go through. It seems incredibly complicated to find the real deal. This is our attempt to simplify your search.
1. Be with someone who knows all of your bull shit and you don’t need to explain nothin’ to.
Sean and I always joke that we would be horrible if we ever had to do the first date thing as adults. Absolutely clueless. What do you mean you hide all of your baggage until you’ve convinced them you’re perfect? What a drag.
It’s so awesome to get to be married to someone who knows every single thing—shitty and amazing—that there is to know about me. What makes me tick. Sounds that make me cringe. Commercials that make me cry. Uncles that we-don’t-discuss-that-with. Be with someone who you don’t have to explain yourself to but can share all of yourself with.
2. Be with someone who you can build a lifetime of memories with.
I am 25 and he just turned 27. We’ve spent more than a third of our life together already. It’s kind of hard to remember a time when we weren’t—and I love that. We don’t have everything in common, but we do have in common the joy we feel in each other’s presence. We never argue about what we’re going to do together, because we each always get to do what we want to do. There’s no keeping score of who-got-their-turn-to-do-what-they-like, because it just flows. Build memories with each other, not scoreboards.
3. Be with someone you can communicate with.
Don’t sweep things under the rug. Talk about everything. Did she piss you off when she said nothing was wrong but there was actually something wrong, but you couldn’t guess what it was and now you’re in trouble and also pissed off for being expected to read her mind? Talk about it. And for the other half in that equation, don’t expect anyone to read your mind. Letting things roll off your back is a nice recipe for building resentment, not building a great relationship.
4. Be with someone who has an awesome sense of humor.
Be with someone who makes you laugh like no one else can. Never stop playing. Chase each other through the house after a water fight with the sink hose. Seamlessly incorporate movie quotes into conversation while in character. Do whatever it is that makes you two laugh, and do it often.
5. Be with someone who is there when you’re sick.
This seems cliche but I think it’s rare. I don’t know many teenage boys or young men in their 20s who would have taken me out on a date with my cane. I was incredibly sick up until a couple of years ago with inflammatory arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Not only did Sean take me out when I needed a cane, but he would carry me through public places if my legs started to hurt and swell too much for me to walk.
Find someone who is going to take care of you when you can’t take care of yourself…. which is a tough concept for healthy young people to understand. Not only would he take care of me when I was sick, but he never once looked at me like I was sick. Sometimes I even needed to remind him that I couldn’t do certain things, because he loved me beyond disease. Find someone like that.
No matter how silly it sounds, or how impossible it seems like they are to reach, share your dreams with the person you love—tell them what you want to do with your life together instead of always just getting by. We are dreamers and doers. Pavement doesn’t get hot under our toes; we are always on the move for our next adventure. We made it through our toughest times by dreaming of what was to come, and everything we have set out for, we have attained. Keep dreaming together.
7. Be with someone that you create traditions with.
We are all about traditions. Pasta Sunday. Edamame Monday. Taco Tuesday. Guacamole Wednesday. Perogie Thursday. Pizza and Fireworks at Ala Moana Park Friday. Do-whatever-we-feel-like-Saturday. We really like to eat, so dinner traditions work for us. Spontaneity is good, too—just getting in the car on Sundays with a couple of sodas and driving to wherever the turns take you.
This list works for us but it might not work for you. Let the moral of this story be that it’s all about simplifying. Great partnerships aren’t the result of grand romantic gestures, they are the result of every day simple joys and supporting each other through the journey.
Let me leave you with Shakespeare’s sonnet 116 and let you imagine what would be your perfect marriage of true minds:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Author’s Own