Happily Ever After

Is there such a thing as a happy marriage?

My husband says no.

And yet…

We have been a couple since 1985 and we are still lovers, we have been married since 1994 and he still holds my hand. We have a grown up son, and he finds it “charming” that we still kiss and hug for no particular reason at all.

I called him on that recently and he said that he still believes there is no such thing as a happy marriage. He says that we are still happy because, although we are legally married, we are more like a dating couple than a married couple. I think I know what he means, but it’s certainly been a wild ride.

I met my husband when his aunt set me up on a blind date. At the time, she had a ceramics shop and I was working for my parents, selling advertising, for their weekly advertising paper. She told me about her nephew and explained that he was recently divorced and wanted to meet someone that he could enjoy spending time with. She said she had told him about me and that he wanted to meet me. We set up dinner at a local restaurant.

We met and I fell in love. Corny, right? But I fell in love the minute I looked at him and, by the time he took me home, I was gone.

He, on the other hand, told me that he had no plans to marry again. He had two kids to take care of and nothing would be allowed to interfere with that. At that time, I was convinced that I could change his mind. As weeks, months, and years went by, I wasn’t so sure. On the other hand, I came to the decision that I would rather date my husband than be married to someone else, so I stayed.

We met in May of 1985. Fast forward to the summer of 1993. By this time I was spending every weekend at my husband’s house. I had gotten to know his kids. I watched them go through their teenage years and enjoyed having them around. Yes, I was in it for the long haul. I couldn’t imagine spending my life with anybody else. I was happy. Then everything changed. That summer, we went to the wedding of my husband’s nephew. While we were dancing at the wedding that day, he began to talk about the possibility of marriage.

I, of course, became excited. While I no longer expected to get married, I still wanted to marry him. The subject came up more often and, as Christmas approached, I began to hope that he would propose. After all, what better Christmas present? When Christmas arrived, my step-son became engaged to his first wife. Rather than “steal his thunder” my boy friend decided to wait.

I was disappointed, but as I said before, I was committed to him, not to marrying him.

Even though he hadn’t proposed, the talk about marriage continued. By the time Valentine’s Day of 1994 came along, I somehow convinced myself that he was going to propose. I was absolute sure of it. In 1994, Valentine’s Day fell on Monday. We both had to work so we decided to celebrate on Saturday the 12th.

My husband must have been exhausted. He was working nights and going to school in the daytime to finish his Bachelor’s degree. I had gone to his house the night before and when he got home in the morning, he suggested that we spend the day wandering through the stores, have dinner, and then see a movie. We started our day, however, by stopping at my parents’ house to borrow my father’s video camera.

“Mom wants to make a video of a house that she is trying to sell,” he told me. “I talked to your father and he said that he would loan her his camera.”

His house was a bit more than half an hour from my parents’ house. We stopped off there and had coffee with my parents. When I went upstairs to get the video camera, he told them what he was planning. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. He told me about it afterwards. We took the camera and went to the Galleria in nearby Middletown.

While we were at the book store, he showed me a wedding magazine and said, “How about this for a present?”

Before I tell you what I said, I have to explain that by this point, my only question was when he would propose, not if he would propose. I had given him a leather briefcase for carrying his papers for school, and he hadn’t given me anything. Even as I type this, I can’t rewrite it in any way that doesn’t sound self-centered and childish, so I’m just going to tell it. When he offered me a $3 magazine, I blew up.

“I wanted a present!”

He bought it anyway. We went to a nice restaurant for dinner. I don’t remember what we had but it was delicious. Unfortunately the restaurant hasn’t lasted as long as our marriage. It was closed years ago.

After dinner, we went to a movie, one that I was so anxious to see, Jurassic Park. He wasn’t interested in it, but he loved me enough to take me to see it. And, by that time, he was really tired. He didn’t really see the movie. He dozed off, went out to the lobby, and in general wasn’t focused. After the movie, we went to a nearby grocery store and bought blank video tapes for his mother to use with the camera and headed for home.

The weather was miserable. Freezing rain and sleet had made the roads slippery and it took quite a while to get to his mother’s house. I had actually dozed off myself on the long ride. When I woke up, we were pulling into my mother-in-law’s driveway.

“I thought we’d drop the camera off,” said my boy friend.

We went in. His mother put up a pot of coffee, and brought out cake. By then, it was one in the morning, so it was Sunday, February 13th. I wanted to leave, but my husband insisted that I had to show his mother how to use the camera.

Despite the fact that I enjoy watching my husband propose, I cringe somewhat when I watch the video. You can see just how (un)happy I am by looking at the expression on my face. About halfway through, I realize what is coming and it all changes. The proposal was beautiful.

“I may not be the smartest man in the world, or the handsomest, but you could make me the happiest man in the world if you say yes to this question.”

Here he got down on one knee and pulled a small jewelry box out of his pocket.

“Will you marry me?”

He opened the box and put the ring on my finger but when I tried to say “yes,” he put one finger on my lips.

“Let’s say that your answer is tentative. We can’t be together tomorrow, but you can call me and give me your official answer. That way you can tell people you became engaged on Valentine’s Day.”

My engagement ring has a heart-shaped diamond. I did call him on Valentine’s Day to give him my official answer and we were married six months later on August 13th. We have had our ups and our downs, who hasn’t? But I have never regretted my answer that day or wondered what would have happened if I had married someone else.

Twenty-five years has gone by in a flash and I wouldn’t change a thing.