Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Happy Anniversary + 9

Nine years ago today my wife and I were married here in New York City. Held at Grace Church on Broadway, one of the city's historic Episcopal parishes, it was a whirlwind day about which I can remember very few concrete details. (There were just so many people to greet and hands to shake that it's now all a blur. Even my wife feels that way!) We spent our first night of married life at the Marriott World Trade Center (which was flattened when the World Trade Center Towers fell) and flew out to Maui the next day for two glorious weeks in a condo on the beach. That was heaven . . . like one of those "fantasy dates" on the idiotic "Bachelor" shows. The years since then haven't been quite that idyllic and fantasy-like. But they've been good years nonetheless.

On wedding anniversaries I usually find myself thinking about my first marriage, its demise, and the ways in which it compares so starkly to the present union. My ex and I were together for a decade and married for six years. We had a great intellectual bond - hey, we were both history professors - but there was rarely much passion in the relationship. In fact, she had a severe case of emotional constipation, exacerbated in part by the influence of an extremely conservative, rural family in Virginia. She just didn't like to talk about her feelings, emotions, or anything of that ilk, which was surprising given the strength of her personality in other areas. There were times I wished that the drug companies could invent psychological Ex-Lax and emotional stool softeners.

In the end - ok, unintentionally bad pun given that last sentence - her decision to open up about her severe depression significantly helped her state of mind. Indeed, she finally admitted that she had been a lesbian since her teens but had never been able to realize that orientation because of intense family prejudice and the hyper-conservative environment (East Tennessee) in which we lived for ten years. We've actually remained good friends - which I realize might seem rather abnormal for some couples - and regularly trade emails and the occasional phone conversation at Christmas. I remember the last time I saw her about 4 years ago; she was wound as tightly as ever, puffing on a Benson and Hedges Menthol cigarette, talking at about 100 mph, and driving the car we were in at nearly that speed. She hadn't changed much after several years, but it was nice to see that she had largely made peace with her family and successfully "outed" herself in her community.

As for my current anniversary . . . This relationship is far more emotionally volatile than the last, and I mean that in a good way. Sure, that volatility can precipitate some "knock down drag out" spats. But it also produces good sex after 10 years together. It also yields a level of communication I never experienced with the ex. At least I now always know how my wife is feeling. Our openness likely stems from the fact that we're an "Internet couple," having met and begun our "courtship" through an online dating website. (Yes, we're one of the early success stories in the world of Internet relationships!)

How did we celebrate? Well, she visited my office today and we had lunch at a restaurant next door to the Empire State Building, and we'll exchange cards and little gifts later. Anything beyond that (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) will depend on how early or late the kids fall asleep . . . and how much energy we have left over at that point in the day.


One Wink at a Time said...

Brian, a very very Happy Anniversary to you and your wife.
You seem to have a lovely life together.
I too, am on good terms with my ex-husband. I rarely sever ties in my life unless the choice is
completely out of my hands. I wouldn't want it any other way.
I have to tell you I completely admire your candor and honesty here. In fact I'm a little jealous. I would like to be more open.
Hope you have a lovely evening. (nudge ;-))

One Wink at a Time said...

(more open on my blog, I mean...)

Tish said...

I hope your day was fabulous! Happy late Anniversary! I hope to one day have an internet dating success story too! :)