Being married 20 years is about 19 years longer than most people imagined we’d be together. David and I met on a blind date, and when I spoke to my Nana the following morning to do my customary first-date recap, I told her I’d been on my “last first date.” We both instantly knew this was it, and we got engaged seven weeks later. Yup, seven weeks. It was like the line from my favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Within five months we were married—tongues wagging, I’m sure, that we’d lost our minds. But as we’ve come to recognize, that’s kinda how we make most decisions together: check out all the options, have a thorough discussion, and then plunge ahead with confidence, never really looking back. It’s worked pretty well for 20 years so far, knock wood.
Believe me, not every one of the past 7,300 days has been filled with sunshine and lollipops. Twenty years and four kids later, we’ve had our share of ups and downs, screaming matches, slammed doors, cold shoulders and stretches when we’re out of sync.
But much more often than not, I’m beyond grateful for my loving partner, our marriage and the life we’ve created together. Specifically here are 29 things I’m grateful for on our 20th anniversary:
1. That we were brought together in the first place. There were impediments and obstacles to our meeting, but there was some powerful greater force that made sure it happened.
2. He makes our relationship a priority. From the beginning, he’s agreed that Date Night is an essential foundation to our marriage, and we’ve been pretty committed to scheduling kid-free time together at least once a week to catch up and remember why we like each other. Sure, we adore the kids to the moon and back, but in our world, a happy marriage is the key to making everything else fall into place.
3. He digs me no matter how many dozens of extra pounds I’m carrying or how bad of a case of the uglies I’ve got. Let’s just say this can be both a blessing and a curse!
4. He tolerates my singing. Even on 20-hour road trips when I’m belting all the parts to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Galileo Figaro!
5. He puts up with my bratty tantrums. No, I’m not always a basketful of puppies to be with.
6. Our vision and dreams for the future have always been pretty compatible, starting before we even got married and we wrote down the pros and cons of building a house on a napkin at the Chinese restaurant in West Warwick. We talk a lot about short-term and long-term plans, and we’re cooperative partners in making stuff happen. We’ve managed to accomplish a lot in 20 years by laying out a roadmap for where we’re hoping to go, and while we don’t always reach the destination, at least we’re traveling on the same road and not living with regrets.
7. I’m not a golf widow.
8. He’s been willing and active in raising the kids and helping around the house. I have to believe this has eliminated a lot of resentment that might otherwise have built up.
9. He gave me four amazing boys. I couldn’t be happier that he was so stingy with X-sperm!
10. Our politics are similar—not identical, but we’re largely on the same page. Whew. Seriously, I don’t know how Mary Matalin and James Carville do it.
11. He works hard in his career and makes sacrifices to provide a comfortable, amazing life for us. Okay, so the boys and I often fantasize about throwing his smartphones into the ocean, but hey, we know he’s just doing what he’s gotta do.
12. He lets me be in charge of the radio, the music playlists, the TV remote control and the DVR. Wise man.
13. He has always fiercely loved and cared about my family. When we got engaged, my grandfather told him, “There’s no ‘in-law’ with us. We’re ‘Nana’ and ‘Grandpa.’” And that’s what he called them from that day on. He went to countless doctors’ appointments with my parents when my mom was ill, and he treasures cocktail time with my dad. My sister and brother are his sister and brother, and that’s that.
14. He loves the beach as much as I do. That makes life good.
15. He genuinely enjoys spending time with me, whether we’re doing something glamorous like a schmancy dinner in the city or quiet like cuddling on the couch watching “Moonstruck” for the 111th time or mundane like restocking our freezer at Trader Joe’s. We just have fun together.
16. He’d go to the ends of the earth to make me and our family happy and healthy.
17. He keeps life exciting! He’s in perpetual motion, he’s got frenetic energy and there’s always something that’s got him wound him up and ranting. Like Anne Bancroft said of her darling husband, Mel Brooks, “We’ve had our ups and downs, but every time I hear the key in the door, I know the party’s about to start.” It’s an awesome adventure.
18. He’s willing to entertain my whims and crazy ideas. Everything from “Let’s drive to Florida,” to “Let’s blow out the kitchen and expand into the garage,“ to “Let’s up and move to Connecticut.”
19. He’s loving and affectionate. I won the lottery in the smoochy, huggy, touchy, lovey, snuggly department. We feel safe when we’re holding hands. I know…awwwwww.
20. He doesn’t hold back when it comes to his thoughts, opinions and feelings. There are no mind games, there’s no wondering. It’s all out there and I always know where I stand.
21. God bless him, he puts up with my wacky idiosyncrasies. A sitcom has to be on while I’m falling asleep. There can’t be any traces of tomato skin in the sauce or pulp in the orange juice. The bed needs to be made before I’ll get in it. Elevators freak me out and I’ll run down 14 flights of stairs if I get spooked. Oy. I am so blessed that he goes with the flow.
22. He celebrates life with me, and shares my philosophy of focusing on joy.
23. He’s the yin to my yang. He’s all about numbers; I’m all about words. He’s outgoing; I’m pretty shy. He’s Type A, quick, has an edge; I’m more laid back, calmer, softer and sillier. He’s into business and politics and technology; I’m into pop culture and gratitude and making people smile. And thankfully we’re both into family, friends and food. Amen.
24. He respects me, challenges me and encourages me to try to be the best Andrea I can be.
25. He’s an outstanding role model for our boys. He’s shown them by example how to be a devoted husband, a caring and supportive dad, a genuine friend, a hard worker, a relentless advocate, a resilient and forgiving soul. He’s taught them about the priorities of life, how to aim for the highest standards, how to stand up respectfully for your beliefs, and the importance of character and integrity. He’s taught them how to be gentlemen.
26. He takes action and gets things resolved. I’ve learned from him not to let “no” stand in my way. I admire his tireless persistence.
27. We’ve grown together and our relationship has evolved and deepened. It gets better and richer with time.
28. I never have to question his love for me. Yeah, he can get pretty annoyed with me, but I know he always, always loves me.
29. He more than semi-willingly supports my Barry Manilow habit. Now that’s love!