Once upon a time, I was a bride. That was a long upon-a-time ago — 25 years ago today. Not only did I snatch up the best person on the planet while he was fresh and hot, but I got very, very lucky. The guy is military.
The rest of the world doesn’t think that being military is such a lucky thing. I do. I figure that military life is an extra push toward happiness. Something about military life forces us to learn at least one new lesson every year. And if you refuse to learn that lesson, military life has a way of presenting the lesson to you again and again and again until you learn it.
One way to celebrate a military anniversary is to make a list of lessons you have had to learn. They will be nothing like the lessons of any other military bride or groom–what lessons have you learned?
Here are mine in no particular order:
1. No one will remember your centerpieces or your flowers or your invitations, but they will always remember how in love you were on your wedding day.
2. Keeping the lights on all night long during deployment does not actually keep burglars away.
3. The military is not enough of a career for two people. You can’t be half of him. Make something of your own.
4. Finishing college is more important than picking the right major.
5. Our peers have no idea what they are doing—just like us. If you want to know how to handle career and kids, look to people five years older for best advice.
6. A regular paycheck and benefits are not riches. So stop spending what you think you deserve and spend according to what you actually make.
7. Stop blaming his career for not having a career of your own. Yes, his military career limits your choices. Pick from what is available and run with it.
8. No one—not even Brad Skillman the most wonderful human being on earth—can make you happy.
9. Really, no one else is going to make you happy. You gotta make yourself happy.
10. It’s easy to get knocked up. It’s hard to get pregnant.
11. The marriage is the center of the family. Kids revolve around parents. If parents revolve around kids and forget each other, things fall apart.
12. Babies cry.
13. Mother the way you need to mother. Don’t let anyone else’s expectations make it more complicated than it has to be.
14. After the ten year mark, sex is more important than ever.
15. When he asks if your curling iron is plugged in and you haven’t owned a curling iron since 1992, take it as a sign of how he worries about your safety.
16. Tell him what you need, dammit. Don’t expect him to know.
17. Read The Five Love Languages every year.
18. Learn how to wield the MBTI like a sword.
19. Dinner in the oven and a table set for five is great happiness.
20. Make up your own holiday traditions so that you celebrate life wherever you are.
21. You don’t have to say every single thing you think. Some stuff is just…stuff. It doesn’t mean anything. And sharing it poisons everyone else’s day.
22. Dr. Phil is right: You teach people how to treat you.
23. Don’t criticize the way he does laundry unless you want to do laundry by yourself for the rest of your life.
24. Remember that you never stop being the bride. He never stops being the groom. Keep choosing each other.
25. Look up and notice that this is what happily ever after looks like.
Lucky, lucky, lucky us. Happy Anniversary, Baby. Got you on my mi-ind.