Charlie Lexow and I were painfully young when we got married. I was 21 and he was 22. He was 22 and 2 days to be exact. We were not rich, in fact, we were the opposite. We had zero dollars. We had no savings and our income was laughably small, as it should be when you are just starting out. We thought, of course, with our new careers, our new apartment, and ability to finally buy beer legally, that we could conquer the world.
There are a lot of things I’d like to go back and tell that young couple, but I would never tell them how hard life would be for them. I would never take away that belief that nothing would be able to knock them down. Because the truth is, nothing would be able to knock them down…permanently. There would be plenty to trip them up, roll them over, knock the wind out of them, and lay them flat on their backs. They were not invincible, but there were teachable. And that’s how I’d still describe us today.
We just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary; we’ve been together for twenty-two years all total. The familiar joke would say, “and almost all of them have been happy.” But it’s true. I always wonder about couples that are 40, 50, 60 years in and say they never fought. I always think they’re either lying or one of them has ground meat for a tongue from biting it for so many years. We’ve had more than our fair share of fights. We’ve had small and silly fights and we’ve had big and scary fights. We’ve had fights that ended in laughter and we’ve had fights that ended in tears. We’ve had fights that were healthy and appropriate conflict and we’ve had fights that were embarrassingly inappropriate. We’ve sought help and we’ve kept them private. But through it all, love has brought us back together.
We used to make it a priority to go on dates regularly and take at least one vacation without the kids every year. We never abandoned our dates, but in the last 5-6 years, the vacations fell to the wayside. As the kids got older, when it’s so much easier to leave them, we started having guilt about leaving them because we have started counting down the summers we have left before they go to college. And we moved to a new house. And there were job stresses. And…
This time of refueling, of reconnecting, of being alone together should never have been neglected. Sure, going on dates is essential and helps a married relationship stay fresh. But there is something about going away, disconnecting from work and kids and technology that is so valuable; it’s priceless. We are at a place in marriage and in life in general where we were able to save some money and do a big trip; a 9-day cruise in the Caribbean. But in the early days, the days when the kids were both in diapers, and we were paying for childcare, the trips were smaller and less expensive. Or we saved longer and did without more in the meantime. But we made sure those trips happened.
One of the promises we made when we got married was that we would always be Team Lexow. We both came from families with parental splits, with broken promises and hearts. We were determined to break the cycle and, whenever we had kids, never put them through that sort of heartache. That has been the hardest promise either of us have ever made and kept in our entire lives. We had no idea. We had no clue how deep the childhood hurts ran. We had no idea how the damage would show up in our own lives. We were clueless as to how we would react in certain situations, even when we thought for sure we knew what to do. While we thought our young love would tie us together as a team, we had no idea we were facing a war and not a game. We had no idea how the world would pressure us. We were clueless as to how hard balancing jobs and bills and kids and friends and dreams would be. We never knew that even though we had a great deal of love and respect for each other, we would need to be bound together like welded steel.
I’m so grateful for this trip we took together to celebrate our twentieth. I’m so thankful for the people who held the forts down for us while we were gone – at my job, at his job, and especially with our kids. I’m thankful for the people who prayed for us while we were gone – for our safety, for our health, and our connection. I’m grateful we decided to disconnect from technology on the majority of the days. We were able to connect when there was no phone, no laptop, no iPad to distract us. We relearned how to look into each other’s eyes and have a conversation. We learned to laugh again – to really laugh – at each and with each other. We remembered how good it feels to sit still together and have nowhere to be except in each other’s company. We learned it had been too long and that we shouldn’t wait to do this again.
So here’s to twenty years with the love of my life. And here’s to fighting the good fight and holding on tight and never giving up. Here’s to the days when we don’t know how we’ll ever make it and the days when we can’t imagine not. I thank God for the opportunity to learn about life and love, mercy and grace, forgiveness and joy with this man. I pray we have at least another seventy together and that we vacation together every one of those years.