Silver Anniversary at Our Little House

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Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. Besides feeling really old because we’ve hit our Silver Anniversary, it’s also a day of reflection on how much we’ve changed in our goals and how we envisioned our lives.

When we met on July 11, 1979, we were very young and we envisioned the suburban American Dream. Two kids, a nice sized house, good jobs that could buy us  our wants.

By the time we married on July 12, 1986, we had already upsized twice from a two bedroom duplex about 800 square foot to a three bedroom duplex, with plans to buy that larger suburban house. We were already having second thoughts on the kids.

We purchased our first home, an 1,100 square foot “starter” three years later.

Throughout the 1990s, we spent some Sundays attending open houses in brand new subdivisions. The houses were huge, compared to our “starter home” and we dreamed of how we would decorate them (although I never dreamed of cleaning them).

It was a dream for us then, but we knew we didn’t want most of our income tied up in a mortgage payment (not to mention living in a community with a Homeowner’s Association telling us how to live our lives).

It wasn’t until about a dozen years into our marriage that we started questioning this “American Dream” of bigger and more.

About the time my corporate job was eliminated and I embarked on my freelance career, we began to wonder if the larger house goal was as much of a false gold ring of happiness for us as climbing the corporate ladder was for me.

As I’ve written many times, we didn’t initially intend on going this small and living in Our Little House full time, but I cannot say we’re any worse off for it, and most likely, much happier than we would have been in one of those monster homes we lusted after early in our marriage.

I know I’m happier not having to clean one!

Our Little House made us realize that one of the secrets of our long relationship is that we have been able to recognize opportunity when others may have seen it as a negative.

Do you have a long and happy marriage, if so, what do you think is your secret?

 

 

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35 Responses

  1. I have absolutely NO desire to have a really big house. I prefer mine manageable inside with lots of space on the outside for gardening and privacy.

  2. Congrats to you and Dale. I’ll be celebrating 15 I think this year. So many good comments already. I really like Jane’s comment on marrying a friend. I think keeping a sense of humor and not taking yourself too seriously is key (alto I’m not always great at either:)

  3. Frugal Kiwi says:

    Many happy returns! Extra congrats on actually THINKING about what society serves us up as the perfect dream and daring to dissent and going your own way. Happiness isn’t one size fits all.

  4. Kerry says:

    congratulations to you and Dale, Kerri. seeing as opportunity what others see as difficulty is a key skill, and clearly you have that.

  5. What a wonderful post, and beautiful responses! As usual, I am late to catch up……

    We are going on 26 years – and even more happy now than in the beginning. I honestly have to say it took two – three years to feel comfortable. I am finding now that I am older, I am having to work on my personality all over again. You’d think these things would work themselves out…. We have found the key for us is not expecting change in the other – yeah I tried writing on the back of the toilet lid “PUT ME DOWN” in red marker, but it was much easier to change me. I just check now, in the middle of the night, no surprises here. And he does the same for me regarding those little irritants. Example: I tend to speak using wide, sweeping dramatic sentences, but he somehow whittles them down and makes sense 🙂

    It is fun being married.

  6. Wow! Congratulations!! 25 years is a big achievement. I think I have a pretty happy marriage, though it has its ups and downs (especially when finances are tight). I think lots of adult horizontal play time is key to staying happily married!!!

  7. Congratulations and wishing you another happy 25 years together. I’m not married but certainly seeing opportunity where others would see negatives is a way to live whether you’re married or single.

  8. Jane Boursaw says:

    Happy Anniversary! We’re into our 30th year, and I don’t really know what the secret of our longevity is… I guess marrying someone who has the same core values has something to do with it. Marrying a friend, as well as a spouse…

    And funny how our outlook on things change along the journey. In sickness and health, you realize that “things” aren’t really the ultimate goal.

  9. Sheryl says:

    Congratulations on your special anniversary and for recognizing the important things. WE are celebrating our 30th next month – so hard to believe – and continue to fine-tune the details, even after all this time!

  10. Mary says:

    Congrats!

    We will have our 27th in November and we married when I was 21. We met right before my 14th birthday on the CB Radio, remember those? I asked what time it was so I didn’t miss curfew. We saw each a few times over the next few years as friends and then lost touch for a couple of years. I remeber telling my cousin I needed to find him and that we would get married and be together for ever. I just could never get him out of my mind and love him more each day.

    • Kerri says:

      Happy early anniversary to you, Mary! What a wonderful story! Oh, yes, I remember the CBs. I used to sit out in my dad’s pickup at night and listen to the truckers. That was entertainment! 🙂
      I was 15 and Dale was 18 when we started dating. Married when I was 22, so our stories are similar! I guess we both knew what we wanted! 😉

  11. Susan says:

    Congrats…..our 25th seems so long ago…we just celebrated our 41st May 30th.

  12. mat says:

    Congratulations on 25 years to both of you. Feels like 52 sometimes, I’m sure. 😀 Just the other day, my wife and I were discussing our upcoming 10-year anniversary (next year) and what we want to do (where we want to go) for it. She wants something tropical, I want to stay in budget…. The other side of it is that we waited nearly 5 years to marry, so October 2012 is going to see us together as a couple for 15 years. That’s getting to the point where we’ve been together longer than we haven’t and I consider that to be the more interesting prospect.
    Anyway, my opinion (which I hear is fairly male) is that all good things in a marriage flow from mutual respect. You can’t love someone you don’t respect. You can’t trust someone you don’t respect. You can’t (and this is the REALLY important one) give the benefit of the doubt to someone you don’t respect.
    I see it all the time in my mother’s marriage. She doesn’t respect her husband (and vice-versa) so when he does something stupid or says something stupid, she jumps down his throat and then they’re both in attack mode. If she simply would have given him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t really mean to do or say something that stupid, they’d both be a lot happier with eachother.

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, Mat. Ten years was an important one for us as well. Again, I wanted Hawaii, but it wasn’t meant to be. We went to Orlando and did the whole Disney World, Universal Studio thing. Since we had never been, it was great fun and it was still tropical. 🙂 I thought we would save Hawaii for our 25th, but you know, recession, layoff, life got in the way. Maybe our 35th! 😉
      You’re right. Mutual respect is absolutely necessary in a relationship!

  13. sarah henry says:

    Kudos and congrats on your 25th — and for remaining a content couple in a small space, not something that every marriage could endure, I’d be willing to bet.

  14. NoPotCooking says:

    Congrats on your anniversary! I think part of aging is realizing what is important to you and what you really can just do without. You’ve done that brilliantly and are an inspiration.

  15. Casey says:

    I always say that there’s a reason for every decision, even if we don’t know it at the time. I think your little house was just waiting for the two of you, just like I think our little-ish house was waiting for my husband and I… its address number is even our wedding date in reverse!

    Happy anniversary – here’s to 25 more years!

  16. Congratulations, Kerri! So affirming to read this. Sadly, my marriage ended and my dream of 2 kids + dog in the suburbs ended with it, but I’m now 8 years into relationship number two, and I can attest that as we grow, our dreams (and our needs) change and the secret to happiness is realizing that and remaining flexible! I still hope to live the “smaller is better” dream when my kids leave home, and I’m still trying to convince my partner of that. But whatever happens, change is good!

    • Kerri says:

      Great to hear you’re in a happy second relationship, Melanie. Point your partner to Living Large. After he reads it, how could he resist!? 😉

  17. Alexandra says:

    I admire you for the longevity of your marriage and thanks for sharing all these thought processes. We are very different people as teenagers, aren’t we? I, too, married young: 22. I fell in love with a Frenhman. I moved to France, a foreign country and lived in a different culture before there was CNN to remind me of the USA every day. My first marriage lasted 20 years. Now I have been with my second husband 23 years. He is a foreigner, too, from Sweden. We see no clouds on the horizon for another 20 years or so. That, in itself, is amazing to me.

    • Kerri says:

      Congratulations on your marriage! I was 22 when we married as well. Since we had been dating for 7 years already and each of us had been out on our own and lived alone for awhile, we felt we were ready. I guess we were right! 😉

  18. We celebrated our 31st anniversary in April, though I can hardly believe it’s been that long! I’m not sure we have an actual secret to the longevity of our relationship, but at some point, I think accepting somebody with all of their faults and giving up on the idea of changing them, is a critical part of staying together.

    Of course, those faults have to be benign enough to live with for a lifetime! I would say that if two people lack any serious character flaws like addiction, violent temper, chronic infidelity, gambling or any other truly deal-breaking issues, just about anything else can be worked out.

    And, as you point out in your blog, it’s important to be able to grow and change together, and even alter the initial dreams you came into the marriage with, if your hearts get pulled in another direction. We started out with a life plan very much like yours and Dale’s. Looking back, that plan seemed to focus a lot on just increasing the square footage and “fanciness” of our house as time went on. At some point, that plan just didn’t fit us anymore.

    I always felt drawn to country life, but in our early years, we were so busy raising our kids and working. The idea of moving out to a farm someday was a fantasy I didn’t really think could ever come true, especially since my husband didn’t have any interest in it, or so I thought.

    After our girls were grown, the fantasy tugged at me even more. I never expected my husband to go along with my dream of country living, and in the beginning, he wanted only to make me happy. However, the more we looked at land and talked about taking the life-changing step of living out in the country, the more excited about it he became. We bought our country home last August and couldn’t be happier. We were lucky that both of us agreed a on a change of dreams, and then threw ourselves into making the new one come true!

    Happy anniversary to you and Dale, Kerri! 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Kathy! Yes, growing and changing and altering dreams together is a biggie. So many people who were couples at our wedding are no longer together and looking back, the changing and growing thing was critical in those break ups. Congrats to you and David as well!