My husband and I have been married for twenty-something years. I thought I knew the exact number by heart; however, during a recent conversation, he corrected my math. I'd been adding an extra 365 days to the duration of our wedded bliss. That's a whole year.
This made me feel a little guilty. Like I take our time together for granted. Which I try not to. But I do, I guess, on occasion.
Twenty-something is a long time, by anyone's standards. Together we've weathered one baby's colic and three teens' behind-the-wheel instructions. We've made car and mortgage payments (on time, mostly), installed kitchen sinks and bathroom fixtures while attempting to instill values in our children. We've built Lego towers, swing sets and a family. We've been parents to six cats, one dog and four kids. We've changed diapers and addresses, gotten on each other's nerves a time or two and, thankfully, have said, "I love you," more often than I can count. I'd like to say we've never gone to bed mad, but, well, I won't.
And if I am being honest, there have been times when we've each been so busy simply trudging through the routine tasks required of everyday life that we've been overwhelmed by it all and have lost sight of one another for a bit.
It's nearly impossible, I think, not to get caught up in the drudgery of taking out the garbage, carrying in the groceries, unmade beds, full laundry baskets, socks without mates, empty toilet paper rolls, kids needing haircuts, dog poop in the yard, dust bunnies on the floor, lunch money, burnt toast, supper dishes, junk mail, phone calls from the principal, homework help, sore throats, tummy aches, allergies, work, overtime, rainy days, Mondays and nothing in between for anything but - especially alone time together. Deep breath.
But then, in midst of the mundane - mopping the kitchen floor, reminding him to pick up ketchup on his way home from work or listening as he helps our son prepare for a science test - I'll be struck by an almost imperceptible flutter in my gut that makes me catch my breath. And in that moment, I understand completely why I married the cute, skinny boy I met all those years ago in driver's training class, and know without hesitation I'd do it over again in a heartbeat. We've discovered, built, created and nurtured a love that transcends dirty toilets, empty gas tanks, soap scum and cat vomit on the carpet. There aren't many things in life as extraordinary as that.
Life can be overwhelming. But the last twenty-something years have taught me it is so much more worthwhile if you are overwhelmed alongside someone you love. I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather be overwhelmed with other than my husband. If that's not true love, I don't know what is.
It's nothing short of miraculous, really, when this marriage thing works. When old love remains new. For us, that's what it does, most of the time. And I don't have a clue or piece of advice as to why or how we've done it. There's no logic to explain it; it just is.
Falling in love is one thing. Staying in love is another. The best relationships experience both nearly every day. And when it lasts twenty-something or twenty-something-plus-one years (depending on who you ask) and it's still interesting and makes your heart thump, there's no room for logic. Only gratitude.
That's one fact I know by heart. I do. Yes, I do.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication." You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.