My husband and I had a fairy tale beginning. We re-met at our 10th high school reunion over the 4th of July weekend, 41 years ago. The following year, we were wed.
Here's 41 things I've learned in those intervening years:
1. Cherish the past magic, especially on days it doesn't appear to still exist.
2. Trust that the magic will appear again.
3. Find comfort in being married to someone who has "your best interests at heart," even when he tells you things "for your own good" that you would prefer not to hear, much less acknowledge.
4. Don't short-change frivolity for chores. Chores can wait.
5. Be kind and say thank you.
6. Humor has been known to dissipate anxiety and keep things in proper perspective. Use it. Better than shrugging your shoulders and walking away when confronted with a moody spouse.
7. When his mother goes into assisted living and gives you a prized possession, prize it too.
8. Pick your battles -- there are worse things than his messy side of the bathroom, his messy corner of the living room and all his drawers.
9. Nourish his spirit as much as your own. And nourish your own spirit as much as his own.
10. Sometimes an extra glass of wine is exactly what's needed.
11. Binge watch at least one series together
12. Err on the side of generosity of spirit and time, even when inside it's a push.
13. Just because you think something, doesn't mean you need to express it.
14. Just because you think something, doesn't mean you need to express it.
(The above is not duplicated by accident.)
15. Slow dance in the family room every once in a while -- remember Johnny Mathis and make-out parties? Don't lose the art.
16. If practicing gratitude, include one thing each day concerning your partner.
17. Ponder the magical meaning of being loved by living in the moment. As we age, we forget the past and have no guarantee of the future anyway.
18. Make it easy for him to exercise more and visit the gym regularly -- place his gym bag in clear view of the door to the garage.
19. How would you live your last day with your partner if you could plan it? Plan it and DO IT.
20. It's okay to vent, yell and cry, but don't make him your therapist.
21. Every conversation does not need to include a listing of your aches and pains and newest treatment options.
22. Remember what made you fall in love with him in the first place.
23. Honor your vows.
24. Write each other a love letter for absolutely no occasion whatsoever and detail the one thing you find most lovable.
25. Set aside time for one conversation a week where you are forbidden to talk about work or family.
26. Cook a meal for him, like company is coming.
27. On each birthday, tell him what you valued and cherished about him in the last year.
28. Don't ask him if you look fat, if you don't want to hear the answer.
29. Ditto for the phrase, "you can tell me the truth, I can take it," unless you are prepared for the answer.
30. Don't compare yourself or your marriage to others.
31. Facebook shows faces of people, not their lives -- don't be fooled into thinking you are the only one who goes through challenging times.
32. Buy a locket and put his picture in it -- or put a picture of him on your screen saver.
33. He sent you a card that warmed your heart. Keep it in plain sight.
34. On days when the parts are jangling harshly, remember the Gestalt Theory - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. So concentrate on the whole.
35. It's always later than you think.
36. You don't have to agree on everything. That includes politics, religion and your brother in law.
37. If you long for your husband to reduce his girth, hide the chips. Cut up fruits, store in plastic bags on the most visible shelf in the refrigerator.
38. When your husband walks in the door, notice his body language as much as listening to his words.
39. Always praise the progress.
40. Think like Billy Crystal who said, "I'd like to think there is a heaven and it starts from the happiest day in your life. I'll be 18 and Janice Goldfinger (his wife of 43 years) will walk by me in a bikini and I will follow her and it will start all over again. I'd really like to think that."
41. Follow your own advice.
If you want more information about Iris's forthcoming book Tales of a Bulimic Baby Boomer, or to sign up for her weekly newsletter, visit www.irisruthpastor.com or follow her on Twitter @IrisRuthPastor.
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