Ken and I have been married 13 years. It’s my second marriage, his first, and both our last. We met in Vegas and Ken jokes that we’re the only people who “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” doesn’t apply. “We” happened and we didn’t stay in Vegas. We were married on a golf course in Palm Springs. My son was part of our wedding party and he and the rest of the groomsmen entered on golf carts. My bridesmaids wore strapless dresses with periwinkle accents. We danced to Ella Fitzgerald’s At Last and then partied the night away. It was a lovely, amazing day.
But it was one day and one great day does not a marriage make.
Marriage can be like those magnifying mirrors you use to put on your makeup or examine your skin. It magnifies your imperfections to three times what they really are. You see every pore as a crater and every blemish as worthy of skin graft. As anyone familiar with the brutal glare of a makeup mirror can attest, this kind of glaring, unfiltered scrutiny can be good and it can be bad.
The fact that I like to eat potato chips in bed (thus Ken’s not so affectionate moniker for me, “Crummy”) makes his skin crawl. The fact that he needs a noise maker to cut down on the noise so he can sleep drives me crazy. (Hello! We live in Belmont. What noise is he talking about? Besides isn’t a noise maker by definition, noise?) Night after night. Week after week. Year after year. You get the picture. The little annoyances can add up until they’re all you see.
But here’s the secret. Just like marriage can magnify your imperfections, it can also magnify your strengths.
For instance, Ken doesn’t like a key ingredient in my famous lasagna so I make a special pan without it just for him. It’s a small thing but he sees this as a true sign of my love for him. For my part, Ken will give me the last potato chip (yes, I have a thing for potato chips) – actually, Ken will give me the last of anything, because he’s kind of selfless that way.
True, these aren’t earth shattering gestures – and that’s the point. Marriage is made up of as many if not more of these small intimate moments than not.
It’s all about what you choose to focus on.
You can get caught up in the mundane details and eccentricities that can drive you to madness. Or you can let go of the small stuff and focus on why you’re together in the first place.
The trick is to turn down the light on that one pimple that you’ve magnified beyond recognition and look at the entire face of the marriage. The big picture if you will. Every time I do that, I remember exactly why I have a love story to share – a marriage that I’m proud of and that I cherish.
It’s because while Ken’s not perfect, neither am I. It’s because whenever I feel scared or insecure, I know he’s got my back. It’s because he’s an amazing dad and an all around great guy. It’s because, at the end of the day, when I close my eyes, there’s no one else I’d rather sleep beside – noise maker and all.