Sunday, August 21, 2011

Living and loving with my best friend

August 15 commemorated the 30th anniversary of my marriage to my best friend, my hubby.

College sweethearts, we've grown up together. We've come a long way from when hubby would dart across campus to pick me up at every classroom door, to walk me to the next before he needed to dart back to his own class in a totally opposite direction. Friends thought he was sweet, but I was on to his ulterior motives. He wanted to make sure no other guy could talk to me en route to class.

1980 Memorial Day picnic with family
May 1981
But I knew I had a keeper when friends offered to take my guy off my hands if I wanted to throw him back. No wonder. He's sociable, warm, caring, and always ready to help anyone in need.

Our courtship was fun and exciting with so much to learn about each other. College is a wonderful time for young adults, both intense and carefree, and in that time, love and friendship grew for us.

And so after my guy graduated from college, we married.   

Therese and Joe, married August 15, 1981
Our honeymoon at
Cove Haven, Poconos, PA

We had our first child, a son. And then I graduated.
Therese and Joe with
baby Sean, Easter 1983


Family camping with Sean
and baby Melissa, December 1984

Already we wanted another baby, our first daughter.

Family time at the shore, July 1988
Baby Amanda joins us
Three years later, we were blessed with baby number three, another daughter.

Our night out with friends,
OCNJ Night in Venice, July 1988
Melissa watches mommy and daddy
But all along as we raised our kiddies, we were sure to take some time out for ourselves, to go on dates and get away here and there, just the two of us, to rejuvenate and keep our family strong.

Life wasn't always easy, for sure, but as we matured and discovered more about ourselves and each other, we hung together through thick and thin, and figured out how to grow even closer to make the life we wanted for our family.


Brooks Family in Sedona, April 1996 
Just like on a plane when you're told to put the oxygen mask on yourself first so you're able to then put the mask on your child, after we nourished our relationship, we were ready and able to give all we had left to our children. And that we did. Family vacations were always the best and we appreciated the time together.

Most years we'd take our annual shore trip to Ocean City, New Jersey, and we'd also camp with friends. But we'd sprinkle in a special trip here and there: the requisite Disney pilgrimage, hiking the Grand Canyon, skiing in Colorado, and many road trips from state to state, following history and visiting every museum and aquarium we could find.

Not sure if the kiddies realized then how lucky they were to have such a close family, with parents that wanted to do so much with them, but I have a strong feeling they do now, so it makes all the effort worth it.

Yes, it wasn't always easy packing for and traveling with five people, who each could surely take a turn being some kind of a pain. But we hung in there together and always came away glad and sure it was all for the good of the family. 
Therese and Joe in Florence, Italy, September 2005
And when our youngest went off to college in 2005, we decided the June before to take an extended tour through the best cities of Europe in that September. What a treat for our spirits and renewed sense as a couple! We've discovered that some of our best vacations are last-minute ideas that we agree, yes, let's just do it! It's always a thrill to quickly plan a trip that you really don't have to wait too long for.

We work hard day to day to earn these special vacations and time together. And we've instilled our love of travel and adventure in the children. All wonderful travelers in their own right, the kids were each quick to sign up to join us on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Italy we planned in June 2009 for that August to surprise my parents vacationing there.

We all recognized that the opportunity was surely once in a lifetime to visit my dad's small hometown in the mountains overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Our daughter flew in from Guam, our son from Texas, and our other daughter and her fianc√© who live nearby joined us also, along with other friends and family members. How fortunate we are as parents that our children literally traveled from all ends of the earth to be together with us! So maybe we didn't do half bad.

Brooks Family in Rome, August 2009

And our 28th wedding anniversary fell during that same week in Italy with our family. As a matter of fact, we've spent every wedding anniversary week with our children all these years. This year, our 30th year, was the first that we were to be on our own without the kids, so it just seemed right to go off to Niagara Falls on a whim.

So I am a relatively happy person. Friends tell me I have a fairy tale life and marriage. And I have to say, no, I have a good life, but it's not perfect. Most probably it's very similar to yours, with normal ups and downs, peaks and valleys. But remember, I'm a half glass full kinda girl, so I don't give up no matter what. And hubby has that same stubborn trait in common with me.

Our life is surely not a fairy tale. Yes, the fun and adventure I'm sharing with you sounds oh so exciting, but there's certainly an everyday life we need to live to make it all happen. But it always helps to have something to look forward to, I say, to get you through the day.

And for sure, hubby's not perfect and neither am I. We get on each other's nerves just like any friend or family can. We work hard at our relationship and we love each other fiercely. I can be a loud and passionate Italian (also Irish, German, and French) and hubby's a stubborn Irish-Scotsman. How do we get by? We usually just put our cards on the table and work through any disagreements rather than avoid and prolong any anguish. Every couple is different, but this works for us. And our kids know we love each other immensely, so all's good in our book.

I truly believe, though, that our saving grace is the golden rule I talked about in an earlier post: Treat one another the way you want to be treated. A basic premise of life, if you want respect, treat your hubby or wifey with respect. It works. And if you're ticked or don't really want to play nice, just cool off and figure out anyway how to make it work. Both partners have to want to work on things and not easily give up, though, agreeing basically that the family, as a whole, is way more important than any individual wants or needs.

And so here we are 30 plus years later. Kids all grown. Just the two of us day to day, with our two long-haired Chihuahua pups. Ready and willing for fun and adventure on our own and also happy when our kids can join us. Life is good.

Our 30th wedding anniversary,
August 15, 2011, Niagara Falls
On our recent trip to Niagara Falls to celebrate our 30th anniversary, we relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. We walked a lot, since that's what we do on vacations, and we marveled at the wonder of the world in front of us and how lucky we were to visit.

And to remember our three-day mini-getaway to Niagara Falls, we decided to purchase a photo a professional photographer took of the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. We had taken so many ourselves, but wanted to ensure we had a good shot we could frame for our anniversary. There were so many photos to consider, shots from every angle and perspective.

One I really liked was a landscape of the falls, all water, cool and green, so refreshing. It would be a nice memory of the cool mist we experienced during our Maid of the Mist excursion and journey behind the falls. But something was missing. The cool in the photo was, well, too cold.

Another photo then caught my eye: a portrait that included blue sky with warm yellow sun encroaching upon looming dark clouds. 

It was a hard decision between the two, but the portrait won out. The whole scene seemed more balanced and representative of a long marriage with experiences both warm and cold, with sunnier times and cloudy, gloomy days, too. It was real and it was life at its worst and best, accepting it all, the bad with the good. It represented our real life.

And now we're starting what we hope will be the next thirty plus years of our life together. And we'll surely continue to have our ups and downs. But at the end of the day we both know who we want to live and love with. Through thick and thin, each other. 

Until next time, yours in fun and adventure...Therese