Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 19, 2013

Quarter of a century

Husband Art and I married 25 years ago July 22. We had to hurry because of a pregnancy ... but not mine!

We had planned to marry New Year's Eve 1988, but sister Gaila, who lived in Bolivia with hubby Humberto, was expecting her first child. Her due date was the first part of January 1989, so there was no way she could travel from South America to Kansas in late December. We often joked that it was the only time we'd heard that someone had to hurry up and get married because her sister was pregnant!

So instead of six months, we had about six weeks to plan our wedding. We kicked into high gear - sending out invitations, requesting a judge and time for our ceremony, reserving a place for the reception, contacting a jeweler to buy and engrave our wedding rings, ordering flowers and a cake, and having a friend make dresses for me and 2-year-old daughter Mariya.

It seems our marriage has been a whirlwind ever since. Both of us had been married previously. My first husband Jerome died when I was pregnant with Mariya. Art, nine years older than me, was divorced. So at 34 and 43, we weren't exactly the typical couple tying the knot.

At the time, I remember telling him that if we were lucky, we would have at least 25 years together. I know that is a "drop in the bucket" compared to couples who are celebrating 50 or more years of marriage, but since Jerome and I only had six years, it seemed like a huge chunk of time.

Like most couples, we've had highs - the birth of daughter Katie, seeing the girls grow up and become independent young women, the girls' graduations from high school and Mariya's from college, Mariya and Lacey's marriage, trips to different countries and different parts of the U.S., reunions with family, spending time at our Wisconsin cottage, celebrating holidays ...

And there have been lows - the illnesses and deaths of loved ones, two miscarriages, his kidney stones, my hospitalization for three months in 1997 ...

Over the years, we've had our share of fights too - some escalating into yelling matches. I'm not quick to anger, but once I get fired up, it's hard to keep my emotions in check. For a shy introvert, these outbursts are wearing. For Art, they're an indication of caring enough to get the feelings and opinions out into the open. He told me there is some truth to the joke that arguing with an engineer is like wrestling in the mud with a pig ... after a while, you come to realize that the pig enjoys it.

Our disagreements are usually pretty short and we get over them quickly. But what is short to an adult can seem long to a child. When Katie was younger, she'd had enough of her friends' parents divorce that when Art and I had a heated disagreement, she'd ask if we were going to get a divorce. That never occurred to me. Art said that his dad used to say that if you never disagree with your spouse, only one of you is thinking.

I'm not a big talker. But Art is and he's been able to draw me out in conversations over our years together. I've often told him that I think he knows me better than I know myself. The reverse might be true as well. It's nice to know that someone likes you in spite of recognizing your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

We like a lot of the same things: writing, family history, reunions, holidays and traveling, to name a few. Art has often said I make a good travel companion. We don't stay at expensive hotels, but we don't go the cheapest route either, which suits both of us. I'm not very good at reading maps or figuring out GPS devices, but I AM good at languages and there have been times when I've muddled through some situation because I am fluent in Spanish and could understand bits and pieces of German or Russian or French.

Just recently, Art observed that we both like adventure and comfort. I think that's true. We like to learn new things, travel to new places and discover wonder in things near and far. We also like home, often opting to spend a Saturday or Sunday puttering around the house.

We have our own interests as well. I love photography, as attested to by the dozens of photo albums I've filled over the years. Art likes fix-it projects. Well, "likes" is probably too strong a word, but he still feels challenged and rewarded when he gets some gizmo back in working order.

Art has sometimes said that he doesn't know why women marry at all because almost everything men do for women, they can hire done and not have laundry to do or papers to pick up after ... except for one thing. Men seem to be good at making women laugh.

He may have something there. He must know a million jokes, but for some reason, I can't remember one of them he's told. So when some situation causes him to tell one, it strikes me as funny as the first time I heard it.

Sometimes it is just something he does that makes me smile. One evening as we were getting ready to go to sleep, quite out of the blue, Art suddenly announced, "Well, I've thought it over. If we ever get divorced, you'll have to divorce me 'cause I'm not divorcing you. I'd never find anyone who was a better match!" Well, nice to know ... but where did that come from?

Looking back over those 25 years, it doesn't seem that long. Still, sometime when we weren't paying attention, Art's black beard turned gray, our babies grew into women, and my nice flat belly is, well, not.

But he still makes me laugh, so I guess I'll keep him around for a while longer.

Left: On the night of our reception in 1988; right; Art, daughter-in-law Lacey, Mariya and Gloria in Vermont in 2010. I'd have used a newer picture at the right, but Art doesn't care to dress up much, saying he hopes the next time is when they carry him out.

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