better or worse
It’s a yearly tradition for my husband, Bob Schulenberg and me…a time to re-connect. We make this trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming every year on a weekend near our anniversary. Some years have been harder to take this trip than others. When you have a parent that is not feeling very well, and you are a caregiver, you struggle with me time. There is always that feeling that you might be needed here. This year is a little bit hard too, because I suddenly have one less parent to care for, making this anniversary trip a little sad, but much needed after the stresses of planning a funeral and saying our goodbyes. I only wish that my family could all take this weekend to unwind too, because I really think they all need it badly.
In reality though, this trip is about spending time with the love of my life…my dear husband, Bob. When I think about the fact that we have been married for forty years, all I can think is, “Where did the time go?” Forty years seems like such a long time, and yet, it seems like just yesterday that we said, “I do.” I guess that is the way it is when the marriage is right. I feel so blessed to have been in such a marriage all these years. The squabbles and tough times never manage to stay in our lives very long, because the love always shines through. Love just couldn’t get any better than that…now could it?
So, as we head out, with a slightly heavy heart and high hopes for a wonderful weekend, I am reminded of just how beautiful the Thermopolis area is. We love the fact that there is so little to do there. Very few shops are open on the weekend, so we just relax, soak in the hot tubs, and walk the trail along the river and up by the mineral pools. It is kind of a forced way to relax, I guess, but with our busy lives, sometimes that is the only way to make us relax…how sad is that? Nevertheless, through all the caregiving work of the past ten years, I must say that my husband, Bob was my biggest supporter, helper, confidant, and comforter. Could love possibly be more strong and compassionate than that? When he said, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health”, he took those words very seriously, and for that I am eternally grateful. So, now…today, and this weekend…is our time to re-connect. It is our time to relax and enjoy being together again, with the love of our lives…each other. I could not be any more blessed if I tried. I love you Bob Schulenberg!! You have filled my life with love and blessings. Happy anniversary weekend!!
When you’re young, you look for certain traits in a man, but I think that most of us probably look for many of the wrong traits. It’s not that we don’t choose good men, but simply that we choose men for the wrong reasons. As a teenager, I looked for a guy that was cute and one that had a nice personality. That is how most dating starts, but if cute and a good personality is all he has, you are going to get bored pretty fast, and it will be a good thing that you did. We look for men who have the same interests as we do, because they have a nice car, or because they take us nice places. These are not bad traits either. Trying to date on a bicycle is pretty tough, and if he doesn’t take you out anywhere or you have nothing in common…again, you are going to get bored pretty quick. It’s important to look for someone who believes the same as you do…someone who is going somewhere in life…someone with the same values and goals as you have. Those are important traits…right?
Well, they are, but you really need to look a little further down the road than that short term, madly in love, your are so handsome, I can’t breathe without you, passion, because while those things are truly important, Those things are going to fade later in life. That man who was so perfect, so handsome, who took your breath away…is going to get older. He might lose all that hair that you loved, or suddenly have lots of wrinkles. After living with him for 30 plus years, you have seen it all…his good habits, bad habits, and horrible habits. He is maybe a little more flabby, and you have discovered that you can indeed breathe when he is not with you. I heard it said once, that “what you lack in spontaneity, you make up for in consistency” and you find yourself thinking just how true that is. Do you still love him? Well, the answer for me is an overwhelming, “Yes!!”
So what traits should we be looking for, or hoping we stumble into, since most of us at the time of our marriage are too love struck to think clearly enough to look for the right traits in a man? I’ll tell you what I have found out. When you take those vows, and the minister says, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part”, it may or may not mean your sickness or health, or for better or worse in your own lives, or even your finances. I’m sure most people only think of it in those terms, but as we age…while we may get weaker or look a little worse for wear, it is likely, first to be our parents who will be weak or sick, and that is when those vows really come into play. That is when the traits that you thought were so important will begin to seem like silly school girl ideas of Prince Charming.
It is the man who sticks with you when you have to give time to others in need, and doesn’t complain because he is home alone while you take care of those things…the man who gets up at 3 in the morning because a parent has fallen and you have to go pick them up…and then he has to get up, as do you and go to work in the morning…the man who doesn’t complain about helping in the care of an elderly parent, even if it means eating late, and falling asleep in your chairs, watching television…the man who helps out around the house, and doesn’t mind if it isn’t spick and span, because you have been too busy cleaning your parents homes…yes, it’s that man that I want in my life. He is the one who may not have known about all this stuff when he married you, but as time went on and things changed in your lives, he stuck with you…worked with you…walked with you, through it all That is the kind of husband a woman really wants if she thinks about it. And, that is the husband I got when I married Bob, 39 years ago today. I was young and couldn’t have seen those traits in him if I had tried. I was too busy looking at things like how cute he was, how much we had in common, what a great car he had, and the fact that he took me places. I was too busy trying to catch my breath when he was around, and missing him horribly when he wasn’t. So, like most women who are still married after all these years, all I can do is thank God for bringing this wonderful man into my life. That is the only way it could possibly be that we are here, today, celebrating 39 years and counting, even after all that life has handed us. I love you Bob…more and more every year, every month, every day, every minute and every second. You are my one and only, my soul mate, the love of my life. I thank God for you every day. I am so blessed to be married to you. Happy 39th Anniversary, Honey!! I will always love you!!