Thirty Years of Wedded Bliss Based on Balance

By Ann Ipock

Thirty Years of Wedded Bliss Based on Balance

April is a special month for hub-Russ and I, as our wedding anniversary is April 6. But this year, it’s bigger and better than ever as we celebrate 30 years of wedded bliss and an upcoming trip to a “British overseas territory in the North Atlantic,” as one source describes.

I thought long and hard about the best way to celebrate our upcoming milestone anniversary. The choices ranged from (jointly) a cruise to a far away island, a retreat at a mountaintop B&B or an all-day spa for couples; and (individually), a Bose sound system for me and new golf clubs for him. After spending countless hours on the Internet, I presented my pick to Russell: a cruise to Bermuda on the Royal Caribbean cruise line. We’ve cruised to the Bahamas four times, so I liked the thought of a new place. Plus, we would embark at Norfolk, thus avoiding the long drive to Port Canaveral that we’ve made in years past. And that’s another plus: a new cruise line for us, because we’ve cruised Carnival in the past. I know he must really love me to agree to this because his first choice was a trip to Scotland, home of golf – his much adored sport, and a dream he’s had since I’ve known him.

But, I’ve felt like I needed a “do-over” cruise for four years now. Our last one found me sick with a case of Norovirus. Out of the seven days, I was sick five and quarantined for forty-eight hours. Thank goodness our daughter, Katie, was with us then; or Russell would’ve had to go alone for dining, Broadway shows and shore excursions.

Though I write humor, I can tell you that for us, the secret to a happy marriage is balance. (And since we are polar opposites, sometimes that’s easy and other times, it’s flat out impossible.) Russell’s take on a happy marriage is this; and it’s a story he heard a while back: At his wedding, a young groom asked an old man, “What is the secret to a happy marriage?” The old man said, “You can be right, or you can be happy. But you can’t be both.” I guess the old man knew his place. But we both know our place too – and it’s called Home Sweet Home. Just to make sure you understand Russell’s dilemma and my angst, I’ve listed a few “problems” we’ve encountered.

I once hit his car in our own driveway on the way to a Southern Living Christmas Show in Charlotte. And no, he didn’t press charges.

He once stopped so I could pick wild flowers – Queen Anne’s lace, if you must know – then found big fat ticks crawling in his lap and around the car.

I’ve drug him not once, not twice, but many times to our annual “four day Morris family reunion” with 21 people under one roof. NOW we’re talking real drama!

I once used supper club as an excuse to renovate our home, ending with a carpet purchase of $2,500.

Russell loves to say, “Girl! You ain’t right!” I remind him I wasn’t right when he married me thirty years ago, but I was doing the best I could. Joke! Kidding! (Not really!)

I should’ve known when I began writing, nearly twenty years ago, that my best writing would be about Russell. The guy is hysterically funny! People actually stop me on the street and ask about him. Not about me, but about him! If we ever go to a party or an event, when I go to introduce him, folks say, “Oh! I know all about YOU! I’ve read Ann’s books.” He’s a celebrity in his own right; unlike me, “a legend in my own mind,” which Russell accuses me of.

Russell is deadpan serious, cynical and sarcastic. You never know when he’ll come up with one of his “Russellisms,” and, believe me, there’s plenty. I think if my mother ever had to choose between us, she would pick Russell, hands down. In her book, he’s that entertaining. He is my sidekick, my straight man and my centering force. He keeps me from falling off a cliff (metaphorically) or going into a tizzy, being the Drama Queen that I am. He slows down my impatient, hurry-up and get-it-done-yesterday self. He is my George Burns, and I am his Gracie. He is my Roy Rogers, and I am his Dale Evans. He is my Desi, and I am his Lucy. He is the glass half empty (for sure, pessimist that he is). On the other hand, I am the glass totally full, running over – make that Dom Perignon – rung up on a charge card that is maxed out. In other words, we really do balance each other out: When he’s driving 45 mph and the sign up ahead says, 55 mph, I beg him to “speed up,” but he won’t, “not until my car passes the sign. That’s the law,” he says. Argh! But I’ll never stop begging. And when he hangs curtain rods (or pictures) but first carefully measures for the exact center within a hundredth of an inch, I grab the hammer and say, “Oh! Just go for it!”

When we got married, the minister said, “Do you take this woman for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?” Russell picked “better” and “health.” He thought it was multiple choice. That should have clued him in right there of what was to come. When we moved into our first home together, I needed a whole closet just for MY shoes. He swore he counted fifty pairs, but he was so wrong. It was fifty-seven. Even now, in our little bungalow patio home, my clothes and shoes take up 4/5 (I measured the closet) and he is down to one Closet Maid rod with three, one-foot shelves for shoes. Five years ago, on April 6, when I asked Russell what it felt like to be married twenty-five years to me, he simply said, “Like I’ve served half of my sentence.” I wonder what he’ll say this year.

For every shortcoming I’ve had, he’s tried to solve it, bless his heart. For instance, Russell is now a Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace University” facilitator. He even made me (okay – I volunteered) take the class. Everything was fine until ole Dave told us we had to cut up our credit cards. Ouch, that hurt! But that’s okay: I came home, cut them up and made pocketbooks out of them, which I now sell at Blue Moon Gift Shops in Wilmington. I am getting better with my spending, though. I definitely don’t own a charge card. Also, I definitely pay cash if I’m trying to hide a moderate purchase from him. I say moderate because I know hub-Russ will probably read this. After I pay cash, I hide the item for, say, a week or two. Then when I put on those new shiny red flats (that I bought today) and he says, “Are those new?” I can honestly answer, “Nah, I’ve had ‘em a while.” Well, what can I say? I needed some cute little red shoes to go with my new/old (I’ll never tell) black-and-white party dress, with the red sash, for our cruise!

About this writer

  • Ann Ipock Ann Ipock, the first Sasee hat recipient, is the author of the “Life is Short” humor trilogy. She currently writes for four publications and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband, Russell.

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