Thursday, July 2, 2009

42 Years of Marriage to the Best Alien on Earth

42 years ago, we promised to love and help each other in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse. We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. We had no ideas about the adventures we’d have the changes we’d go through, the problems we’d face and fight about, or how deeply we would come to trust each other.

Much of what I love I learned from my husband. Before I met him, I never thought about taking chemistry classes. I didn’t know that chemistry was a subject that thrives on language and can be illustrated with drawings in a secret code.

He didn’t know that you could critique a first draft of a play, or say something silly that would wind up making our living room headquarters for the neighborhood food co-op. Or that his lab skills would overflow into our kitchen.

His quick ability with picking up useful phrases makes it possible for us to travel off the beaten path anywhere in the world.

Thanks to his skills, we climbed the steep paths of the swiss-cheese rocks in Meteora, Greece where the monks live, and we wandered around the streets of Kyoto where the signs are no longer in English and people are pleased to have their dogs praised, “Inu, ii des.”

He learned to ride a bicycle because I wouldn’t let him ride my motorbike until he could ride a two-wheeler. He encouraged me to become strong enough to use a bicycle as my major transportation – and now we don’t own a motorbike or a car. It’s funny that we used to think a car meant freedom and now not owning one is greater freedom.

The hospital locked him out of the delivery room when our first daughter was born. He delivered our second daughter himself in our home while we distracted his mother by sending her for a camera.

He made child-rearing a joint project, like everything else. Discipline, allowances, what they could wear. He helped me survive their teenaged rebellions, and just when they started to improve, he helped me survive their going off to college. He cried at their weddings.

We’ve provided safe havens for each other when our jobs weren’t going well. And employed or not, he worked on his amazing research projects (doing what I taught him was called stone-soup research) that I’m sure will improve the lives of many.

He helped me renovate two fixer-upper houses.

He jumps on a trampoline with our grandchildren and help me do magic shows for them.
He has survived being fired, being hit by a truck, burying beloved pets, being criticized by our children and even being yelled at by me, and he has continued to be my best friend.

I don't know any other marriages like this. I have always felt that I am an alien. The fact that we were able to have children together indicates that he is an alien, too. After 42 years I am happy to see him beside me when I wake up in the morning, happy to receive calls from him during the day, happy that he comes home for dinner. I love it that he reads stories to me and does the voices for the characters. I love it that he eats cutely, which makes cooking worthwhile. I love it that he has a different perspective from me and his ideas help me shape my own. He is a major part of my life.

When we said those vows about for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, that sounded scary. But now that we’re doing it – that’s just how life is. I’m glad we’re exploring it together!