You know I am totally kidding.
The 20 years part is right on. The bliss… well, that part is just a fantasy; a social media hashtag that captions an image that leaves the rest of us feeling like there is something missing from our marriages.
This Valentine’s Day is special for us because my husband and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary. And as any couple knows, we have had our share of hard moments and happy ones — times when it would feel easier to be apart and days when we couldn’t live without each other. And with four kids in the mix ranging from 16 to 6, the truth is that there just isn’t a lot of time these days for each other.
But we can’t use that as an excuse. Because, let’s be real here, who wants to walk this life with a partner we feel constantly out of step with? So while we may not be the most romantic couple, we do hold hands (in the car when we head out to do errands) and we always kiss each other goodbye. And although we don’t post it on social media, we leave cards for each other when one of us is struggling or needing a reminder that they’re loved. Instead of getaway weekends, we take turns scheduling date nights and love watching a good Netflix series together at home. We grab a coffee together in between sports pick-ups and sometimes we just supermarket shop so we can have 30 minutes alone. Nothing groundbreaking here I know, but these small and simple (key for us!) moments become the glue that keeps us connected in this busy life of ours.
And just as much as we try to make these moments of togetherness count, we also encourage each other to step out. A weekend away with a best friend, a beer out with a brother or anything in fact, that helps remind us that we aren’t just a wife, husband, mom or dad. The missing each other part has become just important as the being together part.
Over the years we’ve learned a kind of dance that seems to work for us. And when we misstep, we realign. And we keep communicating. ALL. THE. TIME. And we try not to hold grudges because who has time for that? And yes, our kids hear us argue and sometimes see us leave the house for an hour or two because we just need a break. But I’m OK with that because they are learning that a realistic marriage requires attention, negotiations and a lot of resetting.
This year, we will probably go out for dinner like we usually do for our anniversary. And if I were to post a picture of us on our anniversary, I’m pretty sure my hashtag would read something like #20yearstogether. Understated but significant nonetheless.
– Andree Palmgren, LPC, has a private practice in Westport, CT and is a mom to four kids ages 16, 14, 11 and 6.