Jefferson Weaver • How Do You Do That?

Jefferson and Rhonda Weaver
Jefferson and Rhonda Weaver

I was taken aback the other day while talking with a random diner at one of my favorite eateries.

I didn’t know him from Adam’s housecat, but we struck up a conversation. We’re around the same age, both worried about work and the world and bills and the country and trying to hire employees in a society where nobody wants to work. He was in town for his divorce hearing, which would be followed by his third marriage – the right one this time, he is sure.  He asked if I was married.

I said yes, coming up on 32 years. He laughed.

“You’ve been married longer than my kids have been alive, and now they’re married,” he said. “How do you do that?”

I had to think for a minute. There was no easy answer, because there is no easy marriage. I sure don’t claim to be an expert, by any means.

How do you answer that question? There’s God and love and tradition and stubbornness and shared joy and shared trauma and – heck, I don’t know. The years were almost just a number until that stranger made me think.

A lot of my friends have been married and divorced, sometimes more than once. My parents’ rock-solid marriage came after each escaped broken relationships. I know folks I wish had met each other years before, and others I wish had never even been in the same zip code. I try not to judge anyone, since we can never truly know another person’s hearth or heart. A lot of bad choices can lead to bad marriages, even for good people. Some folks are willing to build on the good and make lemonade from life’s lemons. I still think l far too many jump headfirst into what is supposed to be a lifelong commitment, and that ends a lot of marriages that perhaps should never have happened.

At the same time, I know and admire folks who long since passed, half-again or more, the 11,688 days (more or less) since Rhonda and I said “I do”. It’s overwhelming, sometimes, to realize we have spent more than half our lives together (we were both 26 when we got married on a day so hot the corn cried out for mercy).

I rarely think of the number of years we have been together as years, as opposed to the things we have been through in that time. In fact, I often don’t recall the times we were not side by side or at least close by. Some things from the beforetimes are just shadows, while much of what we have experienced with each other is in high definition Technicolor on a brightly lit movie screen. Losses and laughter, victories and defeats, the mundane and magnificent, they all mingle together to make a painting that tells a story.

How do you do that, my companion asked. I sometimes wish I had asked someone years ago. Instead we just learned with and sometimes from each other. Occasionally my bride will make a detailed comment about some obscure subject that has come up in conversation, then look at me and say, “I shouldn’t know these things,” before we both laugh. I catch myself doing little things the way she does them, just because the habit was formed years ago and it often makes sense.

I know folks who “have to have” time alone with their friends. Much as I love spending time on pursuits which my wife doesn’t enjoy, activities my friends and I do enjoy, I still don’t understand how you can say you love your spouse and want to be away longer than necessary.

 And I won’t even discuss the “boys/girls nights out.” It’s inconceivable to me that anyone would dress up and go out drinking and dancing when one’s spouse is at home — or off on their own semi-bacchanalian trek. Of course, I don’t drink or dance any more, but that’s beside the point.

I do not understand the long social media debates about joint accounts and passwords and privacy and personal space. Secrets are not an ingredient in a good marriage, I don’t think. If you never have anything to hide, then there’s nothing for your significant other to monitor.

Heaven knows we have both made mistakes, but we have avoided even more together. Things have sometimes been extremely hard, but every road of every part of life has potholes and washouts and busted pavement that have to be negotiated and sometimes require you to make repairs. We’ve learned to help each other along on the trip, sometimes with just an encouraging word, sometimes sharing or even taking over the load, sometimes pulling each other out of a hole and sometimes forcing a detour down a better path.

We’ve learned to laugh and cry and love and fuss and make up and save turtles and rescue animals and dig graves and celebrate births and mourn lost loved ones and help others and make friends and plant seeds and hatch chickens and birth puppies and defend each other with a word or a firearm or a prayer, depending on the threat. We’ve learned to make do and get by and plan and enjoy pleasant surprises and get over disappointments.

How do you do that, my fellow diner asked me. I have no idea.

I’m not even sure what “that” is, but whatever it is, it’s something Miss Rhonda and I can get through together, as long as we are together.

Happy anniversary, Rhonda. I love you. Here’s to another 32 or more.

About Jefferson Weaver 2095 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].