Today, my husband and I celebrate 25 years of marriage! We got married on Dec. 26 because we were in school at the time, and it was the only time when we had a break from class, and when our friends could also come to the wedding. Plus, since we were in school, having a wedding the day after Christmas, and on the first day of Kwanzaa (UMOJA = unity!), seemed like a no-brainer to us — the two electrical engineers. It was completely logical. Utilize decor from Christmas, pick wedding colors conducive to the season and culture, and “voila,” you have the red, black, and green, and half of the decisions are solved.
Today, we reflected on our blessings and thought about some of the things that we think have helped us over the years. So this edition of my blog is a “Renetta & Damon” special edition, because you’ll get things from both us. Ok, here we go!
10 things that we have learned from
25 years of marriage
1. Be ready to face reality – reality is somewhere between “fairy princess” and “Good Times” – neither will be steady state. This is Damon’s contribution … the first thought in the list. His point is that some days you will feel like a fairy princess in a Hallmark movie, and some days you may feel like you are just scraping by and smash a punch bowl. Be ok with both scenarios, and work together to have as many good days as possible. The key is that you are committing to “do life together.” You are agreeing to pursue your dreams together, and support one another in the process.
2. 75% of the evolution should take place before the marriage. This is my thought. Often, we think that our love is going to change people. There might be some tweaks, but a lot of the changing needs to happen before you are wed. Our joke is that I like to dance and Damon doesn’t. He barely danced at our wedding, and wouldn’t dance on our honeymoon, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to expect him to take me dancing throughout our marriage.
3. Know what you sign up for. Many of the behaviors are already set. You just hope and pray that the good things will be enhanced, and that bad things will be reduced. Damon’s note on this is, “If they don’t cook when you are dating and get married, don’t expect a chef later.” This isn’t to say that a chef can’t be cultivated, just manage the expectations. You are signing up for a journey, and are committing to see it though to the end. Consider the full scope before you make the reservation.
4. Develop a sustainable love lifestyle. This is another from my husband. Here are his exact words, “Expensive dining every weekend is not sustainable. Consider ‘sustainable’ affection. Spending time together is sustainable. Spending $1000 each weekend is not sustainable. Being in front of a fireplace with something nice to drink is good. Even if it is a TV “yule log” fireplace.”
5. Be ok with suspending tradition for the sake of harmony. This is based on the year early on, circa 1994 on graduate student stipends when we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree … it was either “get a Christmas tree, or eat.” We chose food. Our compromise was that we had a big plant, so we decorated the plant, and gave each other “virtual gifts.” These were hand-written, illustrated letters to one another with pictures of what we would have gotten one another for Christmas if we’d had the money. That plant became known as “The Christmas Bush,” and I have never regretted not getting tangible gifts that year. I love that we decided to be creative.
6. Note that your first year of marriage may not match what others may have built over a series of years. It is unfair to think that you have to immediately step into a fully paid-off house, two-car garage, garden, and long vacations — especially if you are comparing yourself to people who have been married for years, and saved, and pooled money together. It’s ok to not have everything right up front.
7. Be ok with a transition time. Marriage is not a license to break the bank and go into debt.
8. Be emotionally ready to honor the vows. The vows: richer or poorer, sickness and health. We’ve had our share of all of that. We signed up to be together through it all. Some dreams came true, and some died. We had to be strong enough to weather the storms, to ask God to handle it when we couldn’t, and to have some strength left to stand on the other side. Having our angel babies in heaven was probably the hardest part of our journey because there would have been three of them by now, and they would have been teenagers today, but God is a healer, and that is all I can say.
9. Deferred gratification is good, but there have to be some times when you get what you really want. The operative word here is “some,” note that it is not all of the time.
10. Have friends who believe in your marriage and will build both of you up. This has been key. It has been important for us to have friends who have loved both of us, and who have supported both of us. This included my friends from the past who support him as my husband, his friends from the past who support me as his wife, and the friends that we’ve made together over the past 25 years.
That’s what we have to share for now. Wishing all couples peace, love, joy, comfort, happiness, and longevity!
Damon & Renetta Tull