Marriage Math

The pluses and minuses of a 25-year relationship

Photograph by Twenty20

Everything exists on a balance, a continuum—especially marriage. Especially long marriages. My husband and I have had some crap times, but if things were so weighted toward bad, would I have stayed? No.

Maybe it's only math after all: Marriage math.

I thought I'd do the pluses and minuses for our 25-year relationship.

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First, because negatives are easy for me, I started to list the things my husband does wrong: he can't load the dishwasher to save his life; he leaves the back door unlocked when he goes to work; he talks too much at parties. Twenty-five years of anything, or anyone, can be crazy-making. I can't even imagine the number of ways I annoy him, but that's another story. That's his calculus.

The positives came slow at first, then they flooded in. I'll never be able to count the number of times my husband has:

Apologized to me


Said he loved me

Took out the trash

Washed the pots

Cleaned the snow off my car

Told me everything was going to be OK

Taken away my fear

Given me a ride

Told me I looked beautiful when I sure didn't feel it

Gave me the benefit of the doubt

Forgave me

Let me get some extra sleep

Didn't get mad when shoved while snoring

Emptied the dishwasher (this, he does!)

Bought me cold medicine


Overlooked my flaws

Didn't mention my extra pounds

Didn't mention a bad haircut

Noticed a good haircut

Let me bask in the limelight

Surprised me

Nudged me toward growing the fuck up

Forced me to look around with new eyes

Helped me value myself

Took over the driving

Gave me the good pillow

Let me take the blanket

Loved me anyway

Let me win the fight

Was the first to offer the peace branch

Let me speak my piece


Said yes to takeout

Made me breakfast

Made me coffee

Fed the cat

Packed me a lunch

Cooked dinner for a sick friend

Asked me, "What's the worst that can happen?"

Held me as I cried

Put me in my place

Let me know where I stood

Thanked me

Took me away for the weekend

Took away my blues

Helped me through the death of my father

Helped me through the abuse of my mother

Gave me perspective

Told me about history

Shared knowledge about the world

Broke open a narrow view

Woke me in time for the international flight

Made me feel worthy of love when I did not love myself

In the end, who cares about the frickin' dishwasher, the unlocked door, the occasional husband-splaining. Who do you love, and why? Think about all the lovely things a friend or partner has brought to you. Share it with them. Spread the love when you are alive, even though it may feel awkward or strange. None of that matters. It's good to tell people you love them, even better sometimes to tell them why.

Tags: marriage