Stop and smell the roses of your relationship

This photo was taken two years after we started dating. We were attending the 100th Anniversary of our college newspaper The Red and Black.

This photo was taken two years after we started dating. We were attending the 100th Anniversary of our college newspaper The Red and Black.

Last weekend Michael and I took time to remember and celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first date.

Some would question why we would bother observing that particular anniversary. It’s not our wedding or when we got engaged. But it was the first step on our journey together. The actual event is emblematic of why we were attracted to each other, and why we remain interested in each other. Even on that first night, it was clear we were very different people, but that’s also one of the reasons we are a good team.

With all the stress of jobs and rearing kids, couples can forget why they ever even got together. The spark of their relationship can be snuffed out by the minutia everyday life.

It is important for couples to stop and remember – not just on an anniversary – but why they decided to build their lives together. They need to take time to nurture those initial emotions, and examine how they have changed as individuals and couples over time.

At a time when marriages are imploding around us, I am grateful that my husband and I still actually like each other. I am grateful that we want to spend time together. I am grateful that all aspects of our relationship remain healthy and growing.

It’s not that we never fight. But all of our disagreements are eventually solved with a thoughtful discussion and a compromise. And we’ve gotten much better about letting go of lingering resentments from those disagreements and moving on to the next family crisis.

I shared our first date story on Facebook with our friends and had a little mushy commentary at the end.  Here is what I shared:

“The First Date … The Whole Story

Twenty years ago tonight I had my first date with Michael. We met that Fall quarter at The Red and Black. We were both reporters. He was a senior and I was a sophomore. I thought he dressed nice. (He was the only college boy I knew that wore dress pants to class.)

At the start of winter quarter, I was looking for someone to go to a story assignment with me – a symposium on the first anniversary of the first Gulf War. He volunteered to go along. (Years later he told me he had decided over winter break that he wanted to get to know me when he got back to school.) We attended the lecture and then decided to get something to eat.

It was a freezing night and I complained the entire way walking to his car at River Mill. He asked me what do I do when it’s really cold out?

“I continue complaining, but with more frequency and volume,” I said, foreshadowing what the poor man heard for four years in Pennsylvania and New York.

We went to the Athens Bennigan’s. I can picture the table we sat at and even remember what he ordered. I complained about my mother at one point and said to him “Don’t you just hate it when your mother does that.” He told me his mother had died a year earlier. I felt so awful and literally cried at the table. (So far the date is going great, don’t you think?) He tried to pick up the check. I fought him about it. I can’t remember who won.

We went back to his apartment to talk. We ended up talking on his couch, and he handed me a throw blanket that I put over my legs as I spread out, with my feet on his lap. What college boy has a throw blanket in his house? I was so warm and comfortable I didn’t want to leave, but I was certain my roommate would call the police if I didn’t come home.

He asked me out again before I even got out of the car. He wanted me to go with him that Friday night to a party. I turned him down and told him I needed to study. (I had a poli sci paper to write.) He told me he wouldn’t go to the party without me and kept calling me all Friday night. Eventually he was calling from the party. (I knew he wouldn’t hold out on that one.)

He called on Saturday to see if I would let him drive me to church on Sunday. We used to see each other all the time at the Catholic Center. I usually went with my cousin – who Michael thought was my boyfriend. I told him he could take me – I hated that walk.  He asked me out again for Wednesday. And after that date I was a goner. I never dated anyone else. Persistence pays off kids.

Twenty years later, Michael is still the funniest person I know. He is the smartest person I know. He is still the person I would choose to spend time with above anyone else in the entire world.

He is truly my partner. We fight and we disagree, but in the end our decisions are almost always better for the discussion. We are polar opposites in disposition but it works to bring out the best in each of us.

He is my advisor, my confidant, my protector, my best friend. I am so grateful that 20 years ago he knew he wanted to get know me better and that 20 years later we still feel the same way. We are still growing as people and as a couple. I am grateful we are growing together and not apart. I pray for 20, 40, 60 more years together and am so glad that on that cold night in January the Lord gave me my perfect mate. “

I would encourage couples to think about, remember and discuss why they fell in love, why they chose to be together and why they are still together.  Among the piles of laundry, book bags and lists of things to do, couples should stop and smell the roses of their relationship.

41 comments Add your comment

mom2alex&max

January 17th, 2012
6:20 am

Great story Theresa.

I hope this shuts up all those nasty commentators from the previous blogs regarding infidelity.

catlady

January 17th, 2012
6:57 am

Congratulations, Theresa!

djm_NC

January 17th, 2012
6:57 am

lovely to hear this….

motherjanegoose

January 17th, 2012
7:51 am

Congrats to you!

Figment

January 17th, 2012
8:24 am

Great story! Thanks for sharing. Many more happy years to you guys!

Augusta

January 17th, 2012
8:31 am

Aww…that’s sweet….still going strong after 20 years. Good for you. It takes A LOT of hard work, compromise, blood sweat & tears to keep a relationship going. THAT’S dedication!!!!

Me and my hubby have been together 25 years, married 20, with 4 kids…..it ain’t easy….

Becky

January 17th, 2012
8:32 am

Congrats Theresa and Michael..It’s so nice to hear good things about couples that have been together for more than a few years that are still in love and are very happy..

RGR

January 17th, 2012
8:32 am

Thank you for sharing your story.

cc03

January 17th, 2012
8:52 am

Great story! We will be married 9 years and June and we still celebrate our first date anniversary. 13 years tomorrow! I think it’s important to remember these milestones in relationships.

cc03

January 17th, 2012
8:52 am

Sorry, that was supposed to be “in June.”

So, tell us again,...

January 17th, 2012
8:58 am

…just why you are considering leaving your husband in order to pursue other men? – why else would you keep asking all the stuff about marriages ending like you wrote about 3 times in the last two weeks?

JOD

January 17th, 2012
9:00 am

Great story, congrats! Hubs and I have been together 11 years and just had our 7th wedding anniversary. Still going 1 apartment, 2 houses, 1 child, and 3 dogs later :o)

Kat

January 17th, 2012
9:13 am

Warning! Don’t feed the troll!

Denise

January 17th, 2012
9:42 am

Beautiful story! In college my boyfriend and I used to celebrate each month of our dating. Stopped around a year though because it got expensive and we were broke :-)

Me

January 17th, 2012
9:45 am

Awesome story!! And Congratulations to you both!!

Me

January 17th, 2012
9:47 am

@So, tell us again… Why can you not just shut the hell up? If you don’t enjoy the blog so be it and, that being the case, surely you have better things to do.
I know, I know… feeding the troll…

PhotoMomof4

January 17th, 2012
9:49 am

Theresa, that was a great story. Today is our anniversary (wedding), but we always celebrate the anniversary of our first date. That is actually the more important date in our book as it is the date we figured out that we were meant to be together. (We had known each other for years prior.)

Betty

January 17th, 2012
9:58 am

Great Story–thanks for sharing and congrats to you both! It takes a lot of work and compromise to make a marriage work long-term, even with a great partner!

JATL

January 17th, 2012
10:08 am

That’s a great story! I love hearing how people got together. Your story also took me WAY back to my Athens days! I had an apartment at River Mill, and I certainly dined at that Bennigans a few times! It seems like a thousand years ago…

Hey, JATL...

January 17th, 2012
10:45 am

…I thought you went to Agnes Scott…I must be hallucinating…

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 17th, 2012
10:50 am

PhotoMomof4 — our wedding anniversary always gets overshadowed by spring events — it’s stuck in the middle of my birthday, my daughter’s birthday, the Master’s and March Madness. We joke about “observing” it in October instead when there is nothing going on.

Happy anniversary to you!!

Kawla

January 17th, 2012
11:46 am

Love it! Good reminder to appreciate our spouses – thanks!

Augusta

January 17th, 2012
12:53 pm

I think one of the things that has been successful in my marriage, is we give each other time to be alone. My husband goes out one night a week with people from work. I get Saturday mornings to myself, while he takes the kids to run errands and get breakfast. I usually have a couple of hours to myself.

We also make the time to be together, without the kids, at least once a month. Dinner, a movie, sporting event, etc….or maybe just a drive somewhere…..but we make the effort to do this once a month!!!

WHOA!

January 17th, 2012
1:46 pm

Nice set of gams you got there lady!

JATL

January 17th, 2012
2:02 pm

@Hey, JATL -I did attend and graduate from Agnes Scott. I attended UGA for my freshman and sophomore years and transferred to Agnes Scott for my junior and senior years.

ssidawg

January 17th, 2012
2:16 pm

Great story….congratulations! I love hearing stories about couples who put in the time and effort to make a relationship and marriage work. I hope your next 20 years are as wonderful as the first 20!!

Fred

January 17th, 2012
2:53 pm

@Theresa: You must be slipping, it took 8 hours and 8 minutes for your stalker to respond to this blog. You’ll have to do better to keep him more interested lol.

E

January 17th, 2012
3:28 pm

@Theresa: Congratulations to you and Michael! To many more happy years together for you. My husband and I will celebrate our 10 year “first date” anniversary 4th of July weekend. Who knew that what started out as meeting a a friend for a casual long weekend drink would evolve into a 3 hour dinner (he was really cute, smart, funny and we had the best time talking). Almost 8 years of marriage, 1 little girl, 2 dogs and a house later, with life’s peaks and valleys in between (i.e. death of parents, siblings, job victories and defeats, etc.), still no regrets about meeting him for drinks that night! We still share lots of laughs and smiles and joy and we are still best friends too! I love seeing examples of marriages that simply…..work!

Erin

January 17th, 2012
3:58 pm

Very sweet story! Thanks for sharing!

☺☻Have A Smile!

January 17th, 2012
4:04 pm

Nice set of gams you got there lady!

No disrespect, but I strongly disagree.

Fred

January 17th, 2012
5:27 pm

☺☻Have A Smile!

January 17th, 2012
4:04 pm

“Nice set of gams you got there lady!”

No disrespect, but I strongly disagree.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Really/ How? From the Urban dictionary…….

1. gams

A nice, long pair of female legs.

Can’t dispute that definition from the picture she displayed…………….

motherjanegoose

January 17th, 2012
5:39 pm

Not trying to be goofy here but I thought your legs looked great in that dress and heels. What do these people want from you…who knows?

Everybody, Fred...

January 17th, 2012
5:54 pm

…has a different definition of “nice”…and, I am not a stalker, but a regular contributor to this blog…

fk

January 17th, 2012
6:30 pm

Congratulations! We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last November. We, too, always acknowledge when we first started dating…a year or so later, (this is where I’m dating myself), he gave me an ankle bracelet with that date…the year was 1980!

Longtime Educator

January 17th, 2012
10:15 pm

Congratulations on your 20 years together! My husband and I married young, and he has been my rock for 39 years in May. I agree that one of the secrets to a happy marriage is giving your partner time to hang out with his/her friends and pursue activities that may not interest you. My mother always said, “The more rope you give him, the tighter you’ll hold him.”

Misty

January 17th, 2012
11:15 pm

Wow, I guess I’m the young one here on marriage- my husband and I will celebrate 2 years in June :-) Congrats, Theresa!! May you have many more.

ⱺ_ⱺ

January 18th, 2012
12:11 am

Really/ How? From the Urban dictionary…….

Sorry, I thought you meant something else. Yeah her legs are ok ;P

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