At the end of this week, Mike and I will have been married 23 years. To mix things up a bit we’re spending the week celebrating the ordinary; giving credence to a different phase of ordinary every day. After all, isn’t that what marriage is, a million days of ordinary made extraordinary simply by doing it together?
Before I share Celebration #1, let me preface by saying that Mike and I are both very stubborn people. We don’t make marriage easy. (We probably make it look miraculous!) The beauty of this week, though, is that even though we haven’t planned filet mignon and diamonds or a trip to the tropics, neither are we focusing on the flaws. We’re focusing on … ? Well, I guess we’re just focusing on the “macaroni and cheese” of marriage. And you know what? It’s kinda cool.
So, what was Ordinary Day #1 all about?
Movie night! No hunting through Netflix in an effort to mine out at least one movie that’s not about vampires, ax murderers, or reality TV. Nope. We polished up the ordinary on this one and went to an actual move; popcorn and frozen Junior Mints thrown in to add some class to the evening.
This night wasn’t so much about the movie as it was the kind of movie – a comedy. That’s what we really celebrated – laughter (not movies).
Mike always says I don’t laugh enough. I say he laughs too much, or at least at the wrong things. (See what a good match we are? We’ve helped pulled each other to a place of balance.) So when we need to get on the same page, humor-wise, we look for a movie. This isn’t always easy but we have a few tried and true flicks from over the years: Rocketman (Disney 1997), Pure Luck, The Princess Diaries (yes … Mike will laugh … more than I will at something like Dumb and Dumber) and anything Veggie Tales. Oh! The Incredibles and all three of episodes of Toy Story are in our top ten too. (Although the third Toy Story left me hiccuping from tears; we watched it the day after Molly graduated from High School. Watching Andy say goodbye to his toys was too much growing up for me in one week.)
Mike and I started laughing long before we were married or even thinking about it. We became friends my Junior year of college and eventually worked together for a Christian ministry at our alma mater. Practical jokes ran rampant between the guys and gals in the church. One that Mike helped engineer was having my room filled with newspaper for my birthday. The maddening thing about that “joke” was that I helped carry the newspaper into the house. Jeff (who ended up being Mike’s best man in our wedding) had a route in downtown Seattle, and I believed him when he said he had to save the unused editions and take them back to the company. Gullible … that would be me.
Practical jokes aren’t so expedient in marriage … at least not for us, so we looked for a new way to create laughs. One moment came unexpectedly and in less than a month after the wedding. I was reading in our room when Mike suddenly popped his head through the door, and with a big grin on his face, said, “Hey, babe …” That’s as far as he got before his eyes rolled back and he fell, hitting his head on the door. (No. This is not the part where I laughed.) Terrified, I ran to him, glad to see that he was conscious, sitting against the door.
“Honey, are you okay?”
“Y– ye – yesssss … I was trying to sur – surprise you.”
Why did he sound like Donald Duck?
We were apartment managers at the time and kept a small tank of helium to fill balloons every day. Mike, trying to be funny, had sucked in some helium and set out to find me, sure he would leave an impression. Well he did, both on his head and in my mind as I still can so clearly picture him sliding to the floor in what I thought was a seizure. Scared then, we laugh frequently over this antic.
Another layer to the humor in our marriage comes from spending time with great friends. No end of funny stories here, but one of the first things that comes to mind is the conglomeration of Greisens, Riebs, and Ausmus’s from our days in Snohomish. Our favorite pastime was gathering to eat and laugh, usually at the expense of all of our teens and pre-teens. One night someone put on tunes from the group Chicago. Immediately, the adults were back in high school where we danced, sang, and laughed. The teens moaned and groaned and nashed their teeth. (Which only made us dance and laugh more!)
Water fights. Food fights. Chicken Jokes. Throwing fireworks at each other (harmless Pop Its). Breaking into each others homes to decorate for birthdays. Breaking into the church to leave pictures of Larry Boy and Bob the Tomato on our pastors’ doors. (We left candy and encouraging notes, too.) Board games. Charades … I’m still writing about times with the Greisens and Reibs. We were a crazy bunch, and I’m so glad because this shared laughter strengthened us, warmed us.
As I’ve written before, laughter has echoed throughout the years of our daughters’ childhoods and continues to be the medicine that soothes misunderstandings, endless bills, and stressful moments. Laughter makes Mike and me feel strong as a couple and as a family. Laughter means there’s a bond, a togetherness. And it’s hard to fight if you’re laughing. (Our marriage advice to young couples.)
So day number one of Anniversary Week … we laugh.