What a Date Looks Like after 9 Years of Marriage

Below, our anniversary date and its aftermath:

Moment #1

We arrive and are seated at the restaurant. After we place our order, Max begins taking snapshots of everything in the restaurant: the enlarged photos on the walls, the art deco lighting, my wine glass. He has recently begun a restaurant reviews blog, and he is collecting photos for a future post.

After 15 minutes of this trigger happiness, I notice that he has taken a photo of everything and everyone in and outside the restaurant except ME, his wife of 9 years. But I am not one to mince words, at least not after 9 years. So I say, in these exact words,

“Hey! You have taken a photo of everything and everyone in this restaurant except ME! And this is our anniversary!”

To which Max responds, “But you just said outside that you hate being in pictures -”

To which I retort, “I didn’t mean – I mean – I don’t – grrrrr! Will you just take a picture of me??”

And so I lean back ever so sexily into the back of my chair, hands gently folded in my lap, my head tilted ever so slightly. Max takes a shot. And then another. And then another. And then another. Because every time he snaps the camera, I insist on assessing the result, and I am dissatisfied every time.

Moment #2

Our unmemorable but pleasant conversation comes to a lull after the appetizer but before the  main course. So I decide to take the bull by the horns and gaze lovingly into my husband’s eyes. He notices, and stares back, asking me, “What?”

I decide to ignore that, and continue to reach my hand out to take his, only I notice that his hands are in his lap, and again I take him by surprise because, to an unsuspecting outsider, like one’s husband, it may appear that I am attempting to steal his fork. Again he asks me, “What?”

“I just want to hold your hand,” I say, biting my tongue so that DAMMIT doesn’t roll off it to ruin this high-potential romantic moment.

At this moment Max places both hands behind his back and whips out a present wrapped in pink paper and a handmade card.

“TAH DAH!”

I swear, it was like he had just pulled a rabbit out of a hat. I never even saw him carry the present into the restaurant! I could tell by the shape and size of the present that it was a hardcover book. He has gotten me enough jewelry and boxy shirts over the years to know that no present, aside from a spa getaway (which I have yet to get), delights me more than a good book. The card is also lovely. Not dissimilar from the cards that Fred makes, but it’s the thought that counts. He has written a loving note inside and included the most perfect family photo we have ever taken – all three of us are smiling naturally and beautifully. I want to cry, and I show this scrunched up little face to Max, which he always happily accepts as a heartfelt thanks.

Moment #3

We finish dinner with 30 minutes to spare. Max asks, “What do you want to do  now?” And I say, “Fred needs new shoes.” So we drive to Rack Room Shoes on our way back home. The store manager is smoking a cigarette outside and beams when he sees us approaching. He yells, “Welcome back!” and opens the door for us.

Moment #4

We drive home and walk down the block to pick Fred up from Natassha’s. The family is watching a Disney movie and Natassha gives me a glowing report of Fred. She and Sergei smile broadly and are genuinely interested in hearing about our evening. The children are happy and tired. Fred doesn’t want to walk, so Max carries him back home. As he does, he smothers Fred with kisses. Though he didn’t say a word about it all evening, I realize then how much he had missed Fred. I have had many a fight with Max over the years for him to be softer with Fred, that I don’t believe Fred needs to be “toughened” at this young age, and nothing turns me on more than to see my husband be so tender with his baby.

Fred falls asleep at 10 p.m. and so does Max. For the first time in a long time, I feel drunk with guiltless happiness.

Moment #5, The Morning After

At 6:35 I wake up suddenly from what feels like a horrible dream. Max was making eyes at a famous actress who was in town for a premiere, and the actress took him up on his offer to give her a massage. I yell to Max, “It’s our anniversary! You won’t look at me in that way but you will at another woman?!” And there the dream ends, and I immediately yank the covers off to go look for Max.

I find him in the livingroom, and let him know by a wicked frown that I have something I want to talk to him about. I lead him to the couch and tell him about my dream. He smacks his forehead and cries, “Again?!?” Ugh…he says, we had such a nice evening, and now I have ruined his day before it even started, and why am I yelling at him for something he didn’t even do.

And so instead of letting this car veer recklessly down its usual crash course, I decide to keep the blood pressure down, and employ the positive behavioral reinforcement techniques that they use at Fred’s school.

I say to Max, “Okay – you’ve got some choices here. You can either go on and on about how I am ruining YOUR day and make it all about YOU – in which case it will make me even more upset and I will simply go back upstairs – OR – you can read between the lines and understand that what I need right now is REASSURANCE.”

Silence. I get up slowly off the couch, signalling to him that I am about to march right back upstairs.

He sighs. “I…still…think…you’re…attractive.”

Hmph. “Fine. Thank you for saying that.”

Whatever. I go on about my day.

Moment #6, Making Amends

A few hours later, while he is at a cafe waiting for Fred to finish up at his Saturday activity, Max sends me an e-mail to apologize for the morning. He had woken up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep, he says, and wasn’t in the best of moods this morning. He is sorry for not having listened to me well.

And I write back, “Oh, it’s okay. Why couldn’t you fall asleep? Are you alright? Anyway, I really appreciate that you wrote to apologize.”

And so we calmly ended it. It took 9 years to be able to do that.

18 thoughts on “What a Date Looks Like after 9 Years of Marriage

  1. Congrats on the anniversary. I’m glad you told him you wanted your picture taken. Men do not always get the subtle hint – or at least, my man doesn’t.

    Tomorrow is our 14th anniversary.

    It’s a little hard to accept, but real life doesn’t look like a diamond commercial, where the man happily spends two months salary on a ring for his bride.

    We will celebrate with a date on the weekend, not on an impossible Tuesday evening.

    • That makes me feel better – to remember that men don’t always get the subtleties 🙂 For some reason I’ve applied those tips when I was dating but married, I think he should know better!

      Congratulations on your 14th anniversary! I hope you enjoy it and your celebration, whatever you end up doing.

  2. I have had dreams about Tom and woken up so bad at him. He just laughs at me. But the dreams make you feel so insecure.

    Good for you for asking what precisely what you need. I’m not so sure guys are so good at reading between the lines…I think we need to spell it out.

    I loved your post.

    Happy Anniversary.

    • I just wrote the same thing to Mrs. Mayhem above – somehow after dating I have completely forgotten that men need us to spell it out for them!

      I am so glad to hear it is not just me who occasionally wake up mad at my husband because of a dream, ha ha.

      Thanks for your nice comment.

    • Ah – you both do it for each other. It saves time and energy – at least you can avoid the misunderstandings and mind reading expectations!

  3. My last relationship was 8 years. And it was waning at about 5, and I was surprised it dragged on for so long. But now, with My Guy, we’re hitting year 5 and it’s been wonderful, but having been through a long relationship that ended, I worry. That we’re not going to be able to see that it isn’t always about romance and candlelight, that there is nothing better out there, that there are rough patches we have to work through.

    I love hearing stories like yours, not for dirt but for the reassurance that love has many faces, and there are great days and there are not so great ones. But it has no bearing on how two people love each other. You work through the highs and the lows, and in the end, if your heart is in this, you always win.

    Thank you for this. Glad you had a great date!

    • Thanks Justine. Trust me, I am still learning. I also thought for a long time that the romance needs to continue, or it’s a sign of something wrong in our relationship. Now that we have survived 9 years, and things are different but actually stronger, I am starting to learn to release those old ideas. It’s a cliche but commitment and security seem to take the place of the pattering hearts and long held gazes. It’s better. But I agree, it is really hard to let go for the notion of romance.

      Sorry to hear about your last relationship (well, not sorry, because otherwise you’d wouldn’t be with Your Guy). I *still* let the experience of my last relationship affect my marriage sometimes…

  4. Thank you for the reality of adult, married life, and the reminder that it is all about communication.

    Years in a marriage can be wasted in anger, resentment, disappointment, unmet expectations. If couples were to be direct, and talk to each other with kindness and honesty at the moment…instead of letting things build up into something else: there’d be a lot more happiness.

    Happier families, happier children, happier lives, happier marriages.

    Thank you for the translucence and vulnerability of this post.

    • We have done both – been open at times and have let things simmer for far too long as well. You know Alexandra, 2 days post anniversary and we got into a bad fight over a stupid thing, but we went to bed angry. Now we are chatting again. It’s up and down, peaks and valleys. It really helped when a friend of mine described marriage as going in “cycles.” When I was younger I used to think that a dip meant the start of a permanent slide downhill. Anyway, I don’t need to say all this – you’re more the veteran than I am!

  5. Sometimes, the big celebrations are made all the more real (and memorable?) by the small, seemingly ordinary interactions, errands, fights, and surprises that happen along with them. Happy nine years! Sounds like you are going strong. =>

    • Thank you Stacia. I am learning as we go on that real life happens regardless of what the calendar says! And it’s all okay.

  6. Thank you for sharing the rest of your Anniversary evening. You know, I read the last part and thought about a recent conversation I had with my husband and you and I are so alike, because it has taken me sixteen years and ten years of marriage to start opening up as I did and say what I really mean and feel about the not so easy to discuss things. But it makes life so much easier I am discovering when you finally do.

    • Isn’t it hard? Even when we have known our partners for so long. We were very good in the beginning about sharing feelings, and then it became so easy to slide into the comfort of keeping things bottled up. I am glad that you have also been able to begin opening up to your husband. Hopefully the rewards will be constant positive reinforcement for us to keep doing it.

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