Standing in my lacy white dress with a bouquet of roses, I saw a beautiful forever in his eyes as we said our vows. Visions of romantic walks along the beach, sweet kisses, and a lifetime of happy memories danced before my eyes as we stood before our family and friends. At the age of 23, I thought marriage would be the greatest blessing in life.
Fast forward five years and the vision of perfection has melted away into screaming fights over dirty laundry and unfinished to-do lists.
The walks along the beach have been traded for snoring, drooling naps on the sofa that desperately needs sweeping, and the sweet kisses are fewer and farther between. The promises of our 'I do’s' are often forgotten in our screaming battles over money, chores, and day-to-day drudgery found in adult life.
Marriage, in short, isn’t always the stunning, photograph worthy moments of our wedding day. In fact, there have been many days when we’ve simply felt like the whole concept of marriage is nothing but a facade.
Like so many, we’ve found this truth: Marriage is never perfect. It’s never easy. It’s not even always fun.
So what keeps us going on the days we can’t stand each other? What drives us forward as a couple and makes us want to keep holding hands as we walk this journey called life?
What has kept us together since the young age of 12 when we met at that art table on a fateful autumn day?
Some might argue it’s true love. Others might say it’s our fated connection, our destiny. Some might say it’s our stubbornness and perseverance. In truth, there are many equations offered for perfecting your marriage. I’m not sure if any of them are 100 percent accurate.
Reflecting on our relationship, good and bad, I think there is one major contributor to our marriage and its success. There’s one element that strikes me as being the most present and the most vital to our continued connection, even when things get rough.
Laughter is the Key to Connection
My husband and I are opposites in so many ways. While I have always been the studious, rule-following goal planner, he is the free-spirited, somewhat rebellious go-with-the-flow kind of guy. He is an extrovert, while I lean more toward introverted.
He is a spender, while I am a saver. We differ on opinions on almost every topic, from education to religion to politics. Our differences have certainly made our relationship interesting, filled with compromises, and sometimes quite challenging.
However, there is one very crucial thing we have in common—our sense of humor.
From day one, we’ve been able to find laughter in our daily lives. We share the same sense of humor, and the same jokes make us laugh. We both love to laugh and laugh often. Even at our wedding when the wedding cake fell apart and our deejay lost power, we didn’t stress or take things too seriously. We did the only thing we could—we laughed.
It’s a simple thing, really, to be able to laugh with your partner—yet it speaks to a relationship on a deep level. To be able to catch his eye across the room and know exactly what joke we will make later speaks to the knowledge we have of each other.
To be able to make someone laugh is to understand their core values, their view of life, and their perspective. It is not just our ability to crack a joke together that brings us together.
It is our ability to understand each other on a fundamental level and to bring out the best in a situation even when we’re feeling our worst.
Marriage is never perfect, and we are no exception. Sometimes we may even be the exact opposite. We fight and we fight often. We sometimes feel like throwing in the towel.
For us, though, we’ve strengthened our love and founded our relationship in one crucial element—humor. We’ve found that the key to our 17-year relationship and our marriage is laughing and laughing often.
We’re a far cry from the people who stood on that altar years ago and promised forever. We’ve changed, and we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to stay with someone through all of life’s changes. Still, we’re clinging to our forever through our love, our vows, and our shared sense of humor.
This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.