THREE-HUNDRED-SIXTY-FOUR MOONS … Holy Crap that is a long time.
The average marriage was 7 years in 1991, back when I met LaRonnee.
Less than the lifespan of the bottom of the line Kenmore dishwasher. Yet Somehow, I managed to get it right, and today is our 364th Mooniversary.
Mooniversary, you say? Yup – We celebrate full moons.
We married on a full moon, and it is hard to stay angry if you have a celebration coming up in less than 28 days, so we’ve always celebrated the full moon as a “Mooniversary.”
If you haven’t done the math – 364 full moons equal 28 FULL Years.
And… that is the topic of this article – Just how in the hell I managed to stay married for 28 years?
C’mon… If you know me; you have asked yourself that question a hundred times. “How does she put up with him?” Pay attention cause I gonna tell you exactly what it takes to travel 28 years down the road of marriage and keep the same passion and commitment as the day you married her.
My life has been a comedy of errors and meeting my wife was no different.
I was walking Klingon with some real deal operators out of Bragg on a pre-mission exercise at Ft. Chaffee AR. Things were getting hot in Kuwait in early 1991 so our trip scrubbed and we had a few days to take in the sites, eat something other than MREs and go have a beer.
There was an incident that happened in Thailand a few months earlier; it may or may not have been partially MY fault, but since then it seemed like anytime we were in garrison I got stuck with the designated driver duty, especially anytime we left post or alcohol was involved.
At first, I thought it was because I was the only one with access to a POV but, after the night I met LaRonnee, my OIC explained he was wrong – I was just as apt to do something that required him to explain later sober, as crocked.
Anyway, if you have never heard the story of how LaRonnee and I met… She tells it completely differently than I do.
Her version is basically this:
She and an under-aged friend were in a bar when 2 REMFs (Fobbits in today’s vernacular) decided to be intrusive and wouldn’t back off.
Suddenly, some big guy in a different looking uniform with a funny hat showed up. YOU have to remember that was before the Beret was just participation award and the only Berets were Maroon, Forrest Green or Black. A Beret still meant something in the ’90s
The big guy in the funny suit told the two guys at her table he was going to count to the number “one” and when he got to the number “One,” they both better have apologized and be gone… or an ass-kicking was going to take place.
One of them decided to try out the Ass-kicking offer and broke a beer bottle; I assume to cut me with. I told him I expected him to pick it up and apologize before they left. It looked like the fight was on, then the guy with the bottle summarily changed his tune.
He apologized sincerely before the two of them left – and not just left the table, they left the club. She looked at me and said, “I suppose you think you can just sit on down now, huh!”
I responded: “No Ma’am,” then I apologized on behalf of all of us and excused myself. What she missed was the last thing I had done before I walked over to talk shit to the guys at her table.
I leaned over to this Officer dude named Gary, he was Officer in Charge of the team I was working with, and I whispered: “Gary, please don’t let me get my ass kicked.”
Gary, and the other five CAG Operators, already had it under control before I opened my mouth, (Hollywood likes to call CAG Operators – “DELTA,”) and when that fool cracked his bottle and got froggy, well let’s just say they both suddenly had reason to understand that I wasn’t who they needed to be afraid of. The team swiftly took up a defensive position and the two whuffos suddenly realized they were about to go knuckle to knuckle with some of the baddest of the bad and I was their Klingon, they would not let me get my ass kicked.
It was almost comical to see the expression as the one whuffo realized who they had screwed with. Needless to say, It was weeks before LaRonnee realized I wasn’t the reason they backed down, and I wasn’t telling her any different.
Ok, so we had an odd beginning… But how did we manage to make it so long?
I attribute our longevity and the fact that after 28 years we still adore each other to several things that can’t be put into words, but I’ll try. My wife and I are like two sides of the same coin… distinctly individual yet inseparable without destroying both.
I rarely give advice and would be suspect of anyone eager to take my advice, but I somehow got this one right. Most of what I’m sharing here came from an old Jew woman I knew as Omi – יהי זכרו ברוך.
Omi lived a hard life, she had a tattoo on her left forearm, just a set of numbers below the words “Nur fur Officier.” Omi loved me and somehow felt it was her responsibility to mitigate my propensity for dumbassery with her years of wisdom. – Omi was the Best, I miss her.
Omi gave me a few rules of marriage that served me well so here you go:
- Apply the “Burn Test.”
The first and most important step to a long happy marriage. – “The Burn Test” Omi told me not to marry until I met the one who could pass the Burn Test. She said to go have a few extra beers and then imagine that your new wife is injured on the way to the honeymoon. Burned to a crisp, but she survives. Imagine she has extensive burn scarring, requiring 24-7 care for life. No sex, no lips to kiss, no ears, no hair, she is ugly as a politician with leprosy… just ugly scars and pus oozing scabs. – Are you still committed to her at the same level as if she was whole?
- With LaRonnee the answer was yes … and still is.
Once you get past the burn test and know you’re marrying the right one, it requires effort to stay married. Omi had the right advice on that part too.
1. Always part with “I love you.”
Omi told me about the weeks after Kristallnacht, how every time her family would part they made a conscious effort always to say “I Love You,” because there was a good chance one of them would get caught and sent to the KZ. They would never see each other again and wanted the last words remembered to be “I love you.” Omi had a tattoo the same place as mine only hers was just a set of numbers with the phrase: “Nur für Offizier.“ (Only for Officers)
There is an old picture that I carried in my wallet, it was of me with my first love, an Iroquois Maiden named “Bat-263.”
LaRonnee told me she knew she could marry me because I looked at her with the same look I had in that old picture with my other love.
I never part from LaRonnee without saying “I love you”
2. Start every argument new.
Omi said never to let an argument occupy more than one day. If you must argue again tomorrow, make it a new argument. No going back to yesterday’s version for ammo… always start new and fresh. I kid you not it works… arguments don’t escalate if they are new.
3. Trim Your Talons.
Sharp toenails are worse than a headache anytime.
I’m still trying to get that one right
4. What happens in HER family is HER business.
Never, Never, Never – take sides. It will bite you in the ass every time. Nebulous agreement or feigned sleep are both safe alternatives
5. Don’t be free with your permission.
Never give her Permission to do anything. She doesn’t need your permission for anything. Her love for you will guide her.
6. Never assume she knows.
Make it a point to tell her she is beautiful; tell her you love her; don’t forget to do weird little shit to aggravate her. She knows you love her… but it makes her smile to hear it.
And finally, the two most important rules to a long happy marriage.
- What is HERS, is HERS, and what is yours, is HERS.
- Don’t mess with her stuff.
- When you are wrong, freely admit you are wrong, AND when you are right, freely admit you are wrong.
- This is the great truth every married man is seeking.
That’s the best advice I can give you – check back with me in 2042,
I’ll tell you how to survive 50 years of Marriage.
A funny side note is that my mother had never seen a picture of LaRonnee before we got married and when we finally went out west to meet my family my mother greeted us with an exclamation of “Holy Shit – She’s white!”
Not a racist statement by any means, it was just a shock, they knew my new wife’s name was “LaRonnee” and she was from the south… so the natural assumption was that I married a Black woman.