This past weekend, Eileen and I celebrated 29 years of marriage.
That means we have been together more than half our lives... four years more than half our lives, by official count.
That's a long time.
What's the secret?
Well, it's a lot of things: respect, patience, support, connection, unselfishness, faith...
But it's some oddball things, too.
Like pinecones and crabcakes on my half of this relationship.
And Irish potatoes and dog hair on her half.
It's the little things. The things we do for each other regardless of whether we think they make sense or not. It's the sacrifices, even the small ones.
Or maybe especially the small ones.
Well, to be clear, they're not even pinecones.
We have a rather colorful comforter on our queen-sized bed. It's a rather country-looking design of vines and branches and fruit and flowers, all done in a very stylized manner, in patterns that repeat across its length and breadth.
One of the leaves has a patchwork pattern on it that makes it look, to me at least, like a pinecone.
And when I make the bed, Eileen likes it in a certain way.
I argue that the comforter is basically a square and that it can go any which way on the bed.
But she likes it a certain direction. She likes these pinecones when they point upward toward the pillows.
So when I make the bed, even after all these years (the comforter is not 29 years old; I don't know how old it is [she would know, though], but the concept is the same), I think: Pinecones up.
It doesn't matter to me. It matters to her. So I consciously make the effort to get it right.
Make the bed: Pinecones up. Change the linens: Pinecones up.
I have the same relationship with her and crab cakes.
I hate them. I don't like crabmeat at all. But she loves them (the girls do, too). So every so often, I will fry them up for her for dinner. I'll eat something else and delight in her enjoyment of them.
But as with any good relationship, these favors are not one-sided.
On my side, she buys me Irish potatoes each St. Patrick's Day. Despite not liking coconut.
She also puts up with mountains of dog hair in the house, thanks to Parker. She was never quite the dog person I was, but she agreed to having not only one in the house (RIP, Wesley) but, when he passed, getting another one (hello, Parker).
It's the give-and-take.
And thus far, it has seen us for nearly three decades.
So here's to compromise. The large and the small.
We may not clink champagne glasses to mark the event.
But we may very well bite an Irish potato or a crab cake, respectively.