I’ve got something to say about being married for 44 years. Friends have asked, What’s your secret to a happy marriage? Each time I shrugged and mumbled an incoherent response, thinking it was just a talking point and people didn’t really want to know what I knew.
I took a moment to ponder the concept, reached for wisdom tips buried deep in my imaginary marriage recipe book, brushed the dusty front cover, and fingered through the elusive secrets among the yellowed pages. A memory winked at me— The List of New and Different Things We’ve Never Done Before.
I admit, the title’s a little wordy— let me explain.
We had one rule: For as many married years, we listed the same amount of new and different things never done before as a couple. No, we didn’t allow ourselves to add one more to an ongoing list each year. For me, it’s forty-five new and different things this year.
Rarely was money spent working through the list, but we tapped creativity instead. My most challenging but rewarding task was to document, then mark off the accomplished. A fresh look back drew laughter.
Most notable was our rotten potato throwing contest. Sadly, my husband won, but quick to admit I was a solid Second Place winner. Bless him!
Over the years, we’ve read Sherlock Holmes stories aloud, browsed antique shops, held hands on a beach, slept on a boat, taste-tested pickles, and ran-walked a mile (kind of). We played Scrabble, baked cinnamon rolls, and filled our tee shirts with freshly picked blackberries. Although lacking the actual skill required, we improvised funny songs.
Our list led us to the local park, wheatfields, car lots, and the basement— the dreaded spider-killing mission. We crafted and launched the first perfectly packed snowball of the season, shared a lime popsicle, and discovered it’s hard to catch fish with a kernel of corn.
We camped with mosquitos all night in the mountains and floated the cold creek with a giant inner tube that left residual black rubber marks on our arms. We played the You Blink First game and investigated the sirens and flashing lights down the street that turned out to be a machete-wielding individual that got thoroughly sprayed with a hydrant hose, then promptly placed in the back of a police car sopping wet.
Our list never included a totem pole, a stripper pole, or a limbo game (limbo would’ve been my win— hands down). However, I recall a post-digging and barbed-wire fence building day.
Over four decades of modified and crossed-off lists netted the bonus. In the rear-view mirror, we see team building and couple’s therapy all smooshed together in the New and Different Things We’ve Never Done Before list.
Next on the list? Harvest our first crop of coconuts.
By Diana Warren