Three years

I have a history of being a bit of a commitment-phobe. When Steel and I hit the 2-year mark last summer that was a record for me; I’d never been in a relationship that long before. My tendency had always been to walk away as soon as it stopped being fun. I have very little tolerance for bullshit, headgames or stagnation. My standards are astronomically high and my fuse is shorter than a cock on ice. I’m feisty, demanding, and stubborn. I may be a harsh mistress but I hold myself to the same standards.

Steel impressed me from our first contact and hasn’t stopped dazzling me since, and that’s not easy to do. He hasn’t just spoiled me rotten, he’s completely ruined me. He’s attentive, affectionate, considerate and generous. No one has ever managed to captivate my heart and mind like he has and I consider myself to be very blessed.

Which isn’t to say that it’s all been a bed of roses. I lost my best friend because she was jealous of my husband. I continue to endure the scorn of his ex-wife and the resentment of his children.* He bears the tumultuous whims of my moods and the violent, defiant outbursts of my impulsive and precocious son. We’ve weathered 3 emotionally charged outbreaks of head lice (ugh) and survived several stressful DIY home improvement projects. He puts up with my family’s quirks and I tolerate his inability to put the toilet seat down. We are mere human animals, fumbling through the game of life.

I haven’t always been sure I made the right choice when I married him, if only because I often feel like I’m not cut out for this stepmom gig. I thought being a single mom was tough, but it’s a cakewalk compared to stepparenting. I can’t even stand to watch movies like “Yours, Mine and Ours” because they’re so far removed from reality. I mean, have you ever noticed that on TV and in movies when two people with kids get married their ex-spouses are always conveniently dead?

Through it all, marriage has been a major catalyst for my personal growth, second only to motherhood. It has forced me to face some of my personal demons and take responsibility for my character flaws. I used to be skeptical of marriage. I was never one of those girls who fantasized about my wedding day. I didn’t want a house with a 2-car garage and a picket fence. I wanted to live a carefree exotic life and I dared my suitors to try to keep up with me. I was a remorseless heart-breaker and a reckless bohemian.

Now I like to remind myself of that old cliche, “Life is what you make of it.” This applies to marriage as much as anything. Just because society has a rigid definition of marital bliss doesn’t mean that we have to adhere to it. I’ve never worn a diamond ring and never will. Steel and I had a tiny wedding ceremony with just 2 friends as witnesses. We honeymooned in Colorado, camping in tents and having alpine adventures. I didn’t change my last name and he didn’t give up blowjobs. The sex just keeps getting better all the time. I recently sent him a list of new tricks for us to add to our sexual repetoire. I look forward to growing old with him. He still makes me swoon. Especially when he sings this song:

Last summer our family went to Kansas to celebrate Steel’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I have wonderful in-laws, and it was truly inspiring to witness the culmination of their life together. During the toast my father-in-law advised the other couples that the secret to a long and happy marriage was to remember to appreciate each other, and suggested that the best way to express your appreciation was to say, often and sincerely, “Thank you, dear, for putting up with me.”

Tomorrow Steel and I will celebrate three years as a married couple. Some people claim that we’ve reached our quota of marital bliss and we should expect to put our best years behind us. But statistics don’t worry me at all. We determine our own future by being grateful for every moment we have together. A little appreciation goes a long way, and we are rich in gratitude.

Thank you, dear, for putting up with me. I love you infinitely.

*For the record, I was never the “other woman.” They had been separated for several months before we met.

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