Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our eight-year wedding anniversary. Eight full years, four cute kids, filthy old minivan, big intimidating mortgage... so we went out for a night on the town. Which for us translates to dinner and a movie.
Dinner was baby back ribs at Appleby's. As we were seated in our noisy corner, I swear the hostess said, "Your server will be lazy tonight." I caught myself thinking, Is that really an acceptable standard? Then Lindsay appeared at our table.
We made a quick trip to Toys R Us (how do you get a backwards R on a Windows keyboard anyway?) where DW ran to the baby section and I drooled over the new Transformers. Then off to the mall for the movie!
DW wanted to make a quick exchange at a store before we hit the theater and I wanted to get our seats, so I dropped her off at the other end of the mall. Since we didn't yet have our movie tickets, I told her I'd get hers and leave it with the ticket taker guy, and that I'd tell him the code word was "mango." True to my end of the arrangement, I left the second ticket with him and secured our seats.
The lights dimmed and the previews started, so I kept my eyes peeled on the theater entrance to watch for my wife, and when I saw her come in and start to scan the crowd for me, I illuminated my face with my portable flashlight - it worked and she came right over.
"Any trouble getting your ticket?" I asked.
"No," she replied. "I told the guy that my husband left a ticket for me, and he said, 'Yeah, something about mango?' and I said, 'Yeah, that'd be him.'"
So much for security. I'll have to try that the next time I go to the movies. "Yeah, my buddy left a ticket for me here." "Oh yeah, code word Green Foot? Go right on in."
Anyway, the movie was Pirates of the Caribbean III, which we didn't really enjoy, but we had to see it because we had seen the other two. If we had had to pay for it then I might have had an issue, but we cashed in our icoke points for Famous Players vouchers and got everything free. With all the free stuff, coupons, and anniversary gift money we used, out of pocket we spent only $35 on the whole evening, and $7.50 of that was a tip with dinner (I'd like to thank Waiter for his frequent reminders of the importance of good tipping). When people ask how we get by on a single income, that's how.
Then we came home, thanked the in-laws for babysitting, and talked into the wee hours. Eight years is peanuts compared to my parents or even my grandparents, but it's just a start. Statistics show that the highest number of divorces occur within 5 years of marriage, and decreases from there. Now we're well over the hump and it's all slim probability from here.
So what's our secret? Refusing to treat the success of our marriage as a probability factor. Love is a choice, after all, and not something you fall into or out of. It carries periods of high and low emotions. It is never easy; it is usually hard. And in our society where we are encouraged to take the easy path of self-gratification, when the going gets tough, the tough get gone.
We figured out the potential pitfalls and spent a lot of time in marriage prep learning how to avoid them. We preserved our sexuality for marriage, and are faithful to the Church's teaching on its proper usage within marriage. We spend time in prayer together, although not as much as we should. We rely on the graces of this beautiful sacrament and the strength of God to keep us going through the hard times, and boy oh boy do we have hard times.
But mostly the success of our marriage comes down to us having made a choice to love each other eight years and one day ago, and to renewing that choice each day.
You can bet I'll choose it again tomorrow.