Note from Jessie: Nancy Brophy is one of the original “Janes” coming back to See Jane Publish to share lessons learned from her marriage. I have long envied the success of their marriage. A couple that can survive a house fire and laugh about it now must know some secrets to being in a happy partnership.
The first time I saw my husband, he stood across a professional kitchen from me. Like Harry Potter coming to Hogwarts, Chef Brophy came to teach cooking school. I knew immediately he was the guy for me. Tragically, he didn’t have a clue.
But that isn’t the story I’m going to tell you about love. Because while heart may have recognized heart (in my case, not his) that alone would not have carried us for the twenty-plus years we’ve been together.
Both of us had previous marriages. In my case the marriage was complicated, but short-lived. In the end we experienced a very polite uncoupling. I was so proud of our civility. We simply discovered we’d made a mistake and moved on. Ta-dah!
My husband’s first marriage was neither short-lived, civil, nor polite. After two decades of marriage and one child there were a few issues to handle. I did not break up my husband’s first marriage. Nor did I participate in the battle that ensued. But I was also not entirely innocent. Without me in the picture, would he have returned home? He said not. But still I wondered.
I was prepared for him to leave. I don’t remember a day I wasn’t expecting to hear the words, “I’m sorry, but I think I have to give it one more try.”
But being a writer does not entitle me to get to edit the scenes of my life.
He did not leave. Eventually, the prolonged war ended with a whisper of smoke, dissipating in a breeze.
You know that joke where the woman says, “Husbands are like puppies, they have to be trained. And the first sentence I taught him was ‘everything goes with diamonds’?” What I discovered was that my husband was training me, as well. Here are a few of his lessons:
- One of us does not slip out of the house in the morning without kissing the other good-bye.
- Being busy, doesn’t mean we get to skip the opportunity to tell the other how much they mean to the relationship.
- Gifts are not mandatory on Valentine’s Day, but the minimum of a card is required.
- Say ‘I love you’ every day. Respect the other person. Speak up for them.
- It’s not the big gestures that count. It’s the little everyday nothingness that keeps up together.
When we were rebuilding from our house fire, I choose the color “crushed berries” for our dining room. It is a deep, rich fuchsia. When it first went on the walls, grown men clutched their chests and made a strangling, gagging noise while they entered the room.
A man, who works with my husband, took him aside and asked, “What were she thinking?”
My husband smiled and said. “It’s not finished yet. In the end it will be perfect.”
If tomorrow Dan announced we were done, I would fight to keep him. There would be no polite uncoupling, because I can no longer imagine my life without him. How could I sleep at night without him by my side?
Love grows. Our marriage is not finished yet. Nor is it perfect. But it’s getting closer.
About the Author: I live in the beautiful, green, and very wet, Northwest, married to a Chef whose mantra is: life is a science project. As a result there are chickens and turkeys in my backyard, a fabulous vegetable garden which also grows tobacco for an insecticide and a hot meal on the table every night. For those of you who have longed for this, let me caution you. The old adage is true. Be careful what you wish for, when the gods are truly angry, they grant us our wishes. And the payment is always high, I fight an insidious ten pounds every year of my life.