A Once-In-A-Lifetime Achievement In My Marriage: Unlocked.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 3.618% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

When I first met Gini about twenty-three years ago, she was married and had two kids.

And she was married married.  Like, my friends had been married, but their marriages were all a couple years old and they were still doing the “Are we together enough to have kids?” thing and living in shabby apartments with mismatched furniture.  Their marriages didn’t feel like marriages, but like someone had dropped an uncomfortable wedding in the middle of a long-term relationship.

Gini’s marriage was that strong suburban marriage, where they had a home they’d lived in forever, and two kids, and near the end one of those kids was old enough to date.  Their marriage was old enough to drive.  Their marriage had that patina of antiquity about it – and when Gini announced they were fling for divorce, people were shocked.  Because they’d been together for almost two decades.  They’d gotten so far that their friends had quietly come to assume that marriage would last forever.

About a year later, Gini and I got married.

We got married too soon after the (lengthy) divorce proceedings, I admit.  And honestly, it was always sort of a cockamamie plan – I remember calling up my mother and going, “HEY I MET THIS WOMAN IN A STAR WARS CHAT ROOM SO I’M QUITTING MY JOB TO MOVE UP TO ALASKA AND TAKE CARE OF HER KIDS.”

My mother kept her voice astoundingly even as she congratulated me.

And those first years of marriage felt like duct tape and baling wire.  I lived in a stranger’s house, flailing as a stepfather, running face-first into issues we couldn’t have anticipated from our hours of phone calls.  It was lovely exchanging emails, but suddenly we were both broke and there was nowhere for us to hide – before, we could shut off the Internet and retreat to our corners, and now we were both here, too physical at times, banging elbows all the time.

Those first few years felt like divorce was forever around the corner.  It didn’t feel like a marriage.

And let’s be honest: Gini’s ex-husband wasn’t kind when we heard we were getting married.  He thought it was too soon, and predicted we wouldn’t make it.  And didn’t he know her better than I did?

Wasn’t this destined to fail?

But slowly, Gini and I learned the tools to communicate with each other – and through it all, we ran out of love a couple of times, but our “like” never stopped flowing.  Even when we fought harshly, we still could make each other laugh.  Even when we’d spent the night crying, we could wake up the next morning and talk about Star Wars.

We were unaccountably fond of each other.  Even when we threw hard punches, we wanted to get back in the ring.

And over the years, we got stronger and stronger.

And it’s weird, because people are often like “You guys are polyamorous!  You have other partners!”  And while we deal with the discomforts and the tangled schedules and the ego-bruising that comes with dating other people, the truth is that our polyamory has become strangely easy.  We can’t imagine life without each other.  Even when we’re in someone else’s arms, we know where home is.

And these last few years have been traumatic and stressful because death has come knocking.  Our goddaughter Rebecca died of cancer on her sixth birthday, Gini’s mom died, and I had a coronary triple-bypass that gave me a really good sense of what an ugly death looks like.  And Gini’s had some pretty heavy-duty medical issues this year, in part caused by a bout of pneumonia that may have done some permanent damage, that’s left us reeling with mortality.

We don’t get forever.

Which is why we’d better hold on to what we have right now.

And yesterday, the meter quietly ticked over.  As of November 22nd, 2016, I had been married to Gini longer than her ex-husband had.

I keep thinking: We’re married married.  And we have been for a while.  But now, I’m officially Gini’s longest-running husband, and the limitations of life mean that I doubt anyone will beat this record, and I keep thinking Christ, how have we been married for over seventeen years? That seems like such a long time.

I keep remembering how her ex-husband doubted us.  And he was right to.  By the odds, we shouldn’t have made it.  I give advice to people on relationships, and if I’d come to me describing my marriage eighteen months in, I’d have said it was probably time to leave.

But miracles happen.  Miracles did happen.

We made it.

And we don’t get forever.  But every day after this somehow feels new – we were always breaking new ground, but now each moment is heading into even more uncharted territory, this glorious entwining, becoming more together, working hard to ensure that whatever happens we keep that strong and unwavering fire of our fondness stoked.

I beat the record.  It’s foolish, but… it matters.

I love you, Gini.

Let’s see how far we can take this.

 

6 Comments

  1. Joshua
    Nov 23, 2016

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    CONGRATULATIONSCONGRATULATIONSCONGRATULATIONSCONGRATULATIONS!

    I’m so thrilled for you both. 🙂

    Yes, marking this date is silly and of-human-manufacture, but that’s true of all dates, all anniversaries, all holidays. And they matter nonetheless, and so does this.

    Yay for you.

  2. Sarah in Boston
    Nov 23, 2016

    Congratulations to you both! That was really lovely. You’re lucky to have each other.

  3. Lucretia
    Nov 23, 2016

    I love you guys as “you guys” – you are amazing. Congrats to you both!

  4. TRACY CHALKER
    Nov 23, 2016

    Much love and congratulations you two! <3

  5. Chris
    Nov 23, 2016

    Congratulations & love to you both. I’ve been one of those out here quietly rooting for you since ..well, the whole time or close to it. I don’t remember a time of Ferret & not-Gini or Gini-and-not-Ferret, anyway… And though I’m just a reader who’s shared a few comments back and forth via social media over the years (decades? wow), I’m so glad you guys have shared so much of the ride & wish you 170 happy years more.

  6. Mark
    Nov 24, 2016

    Lovely piece, congratulations!

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