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  • Julie Cali

How Did We Make It Twenty Years?




I have been with my husband, Kevin, more days of my life than I have been without him. We met my first day of college, when I was bright eyed and ready to take on the world. I gravitated to Kevin’s quick wit and photographic memory. He went from something I wanted to something I needed within the matter of a few days. My mother told me he’d be a good one to marry because the veins running up and down his arms indicated he had low body fat. Not that I ever had low body fat, something he never seemed to notice. I could never imagine we’d end up here, three children, two dogs, four job changes later.





The journey of our marriage took us through North Carolina, New York, and back to Florida. My memories seem crisp, like no time has passed at all, from our first car rides together through Durham where we stopped to smooch at every red light. To our first fights, where I swore I’d never talk to him again because he was late meeting me to walk to Gross Chem.


There were so many good days, our fingers entwined while we watched Duke basketball. But there were bad days too. All couples fight, whether they admit it or not. Marriage is not easy. It requires merging your goals and objectives with someone else’s forever. Conflict is inevitable. Your spouse sees you at your worst, raw and exposed, both emotionally, like when my father died, and physically, like when I pushed Logan out of my body and Kevin tried to flee the room when he caught sight of the afterbirth.





Despite our best efforts, life slowly crept into the background suffocating that idyllic couple that we were, mortgages had to be paid, children had to be raised. Our love ebbed and flowed as we rode out the roller coaster of life, becoming less overt and more subtle. There are no random bouquets of flowers anymore like in those early days. There are rarely any presents at all other than the occasional Peanut Butter Snickers. After twenty years, our love is a tacit string running through our lives in how we interact on a daily basis, when he lets me sleep in on a Saturday and gets up with the kids, when I pick up his favorite breakfast food, when I wake up to him sleeping with one finger looped into my shorts to keep me close.




And even if some days we don’t like each other, we always remember to love each other. Kevin never judges me by my worst days and always champions me on my best days. He has been woven into every layer of my life—a second backbone on days I need support. He carried my grandmother’s casket at her funeral. He held my hand when we lost our first baby and again when I gave birth to Logan, Lukey and Cali. He made me laugh on days I wanted to cry. He’s pushed me through to challenge myself professionally at a time when I had low confidence in myself. He values me as a person, and I value him. We are each other’s biggest supporters. And I have to pull from that on days I’m frustrated because he’s left the toilet seat up, or left the clothes in the dryer so long they wrinkled.


We have lasted so long because we chose us over things. Over the years, we’ve had our financial highs and lows, but having built everything together so early, we rarely fight about money. Once I did get mad he lost $500 at a casino, but I ultimately had to apologize given that he never questions one dime I spend. I’ve learned that money can be corrupting, and to not let it rule our relationship. Kevin’s job where he traveled and where he made the most money might have been our greatest obstacle. It drained me physically and mentally, and created a distance that could have broken us. We had more money but we had less of everything else—and we both realized what would be more important in the end, to value family time over time apart, to value each other over material goods. Kevin often says comparison is the thief of joy, and I value that quality in him above all else.


We are not chasing the dragon, and seem genuinely content in the life we have built. Twenty years have flown by, and here we are, somehow having made it through even though there were days I didn’t think we would. And that’s okay to admit. Marriage is a commitment and requires effort. I’m very grateful we’ve made it this far. Here’s to twenty more.



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