The Magic Of 20 Years Together

by Joelle Wisler

I started dating my husband when we were 19-year-old college students. During our first fight he purposefully flung himself into a snow bank and I started laughing and decided that I loved him.

We have now been together for 20 years. That is a very long time. We have weathered moments of hating each other’s guts, and door-slamming, mirror-breaking fights. We have weathered moments of laughing so hard that we are falling out of our chairs and wiping tears and snot off of our faces.

We have weathered days of just floating by each other, living our own lives and communicating in pre-coffee grunts. We have weathered moments of helplessness—one time as we watched our littlest one puke again and again after she had hit her head on a rock. We have weathered many first-thing-in-the-morning-tired looks, like, do we have to get up and do it all again?

Through all of these moments, I know that he is my person. My imperfect, sorta bossy, totally genius, loudly burping person.

But there are some things that I didn’t know would be true when I first saw that goofy guy in a red baseball cap standing outside my dorm room with a super soaker and an evil grin:

©Joelle Wisler

1. That one day, we would be able to communicate just looking at each other.

Did that little punk-ass just say that?

He sure freaking did!

Should I take the iPad?

Totally do it!

I’m sorta scared.

Me too.

2. That we would say and do hundreds of hurtful things to each other over the years, and that marriage is basically learning the art of not holding a grudge.

3. That the human body is basically gross and even after never being able to un-see the things we have seen, we would still want to get naked together.

4. That there would be moments of small perfections that sometimes come in the form of sitting in silence for 5 minutes together. Or in that moment when I step out of the shower, 2 kids later, and I’m not feeling my sexiest, he says, “Damn, girl.”

5. That there would be one day, at the end of a kid-filled summer, when we would drive down the driveway watching our kids wave with the babysitter, and we would feel so free that we would want to keep driving and maybe never come back. But we did.

6. That we would purposefully say stupid, mean things to each other because we’d know precisely what will make each other lose our minds.

7. That we would be the carrier of many secrets for each other. At our age, playing “Have You Ever” while drinking, would not be wise.

8. That there would be one morning that the sound of him brushing his teeth would make me want to stab him with his toothbrush. But I didn’t.

9. That Saturday mornings would be a delicate thing. They can be wonderful and lazy but they can also be the time when we can miscommunicate about bacon and life insurance and maybe even about miscommunication.

10. That we would find out that it is perfectly fine to not want to be with each other on those days.

11. That we would lose each other every once in awhile. Especially while elbow-deep in kids.

©Joelle Wisler

12. That for the most part, life would get so much better. Or maybe little things like him bossing me around in the kitchen have just stopped bothering me so much.

A 20-year relationship weathers thousands of storms. I think the magic comes when, after each storm, the next morning we can look at each other as we slowly blink our eyes awake. And then one of us farts so loud that it rumbles the bed and wakes our 3-year-old sleeping in the next room. And she giggles.

That is marriage.