We Do

By Linda O'Connell

We Do

It wasn’t love at first sight when Bill and I met twenty-five years ago. He was just the nice guy in a group of friends who liked to dance. For me, it was LIKE at first sight, and I swear I heard my late grandmother whisper in my ear one evening as we were saying goodbye, “That man will be your husband.”

I looked heavenward, focused on the brightest star and whispered, “Oh Grandma, I just got rid of a husband. That’s the last thing I need.”

Five years later we said, “I do.” And over the years we’ve found ourselves saying those words over and over.

“Do you have a pain in your right shoulder?”

“I DO.”

After twenty years of marriage, Bill is still the man who trips my giggle trigger and makes me crazy. Crazy-happy. We are so much alike it is scary. In the beginning, we discovered many similarities in each other: our beliefs, politics and sense of humor. Then we began to notice that although we have completely different body styles, our bodies were beginning to mimic each other. He developed a mole on his left calf. I noticed an identical one on my right. If he got a blemish on his right cheek, I got one on my left. It has been that way ever since we met, but it is getting worse as we age. Last month I sprained my right knee. A week later he twisted his left. We are both babying each other and our knees. When one of us starts a sentence, the other completes it. Not only do we compliment one another, we complement each other. Complete strangers have told us we go together.

“Do you still love me?” we ask.

“I do,” the other responds.

Although I do love him, he has an annoying habit that drives me crazy, and I don’t mean crazy-happy. You’d think after twenty years, I’d be used to him subconsciously clicking his fingernails while he watches a TV drama. I do know it’s a way for him to release tension, but it elevates mine and makes me want to scream. I can only take it for so long before I hiss, “Stop clicking.” And he says something like, “Oh sorry, I have a hang nail.” We both know that if he does have one, it’s because he’s been clicking his nails like a bowl of morning crackle cereal.

He’s a good guy, but I do have one major complaint. In the evening, when he goes to the kitchen to make himself a snack, he leaves crumbs all over the counter top. How difficult is it to brush bread crumbs into the sink twelve inches away? It’s not like he leaves the cheese wrapper or the mustard on the counter. No, just the crumbs. He knows it’s the little things that annoy me. I have asked him. “Do you know…?” He always replies, “I do.”

I rant, and Bill smiles and says, “Think of how many women would be glad to have counter crumbs as their only complaint about their husbands. You are one lucky woman to have a mess-maker like me.” He’s not boasting; he’s playfully stating a fact. We both know that I am the jelly to his peanut butter toast, and he is the coffee to my cream. We still walk arm in arm, and most of our beliefs go hand in hand. We laugh loud and long together, and we deeply appreciate one another.

“Do you have any complaints about me?” I ask.

“I do.” He claims that my waking at 4 am to write shines a light on him before the sun does. I tell him he’d miss my “sunshine” if I wasn’t there.

Early one morning last week I made my way to the kitchen prepared to mumble about his crumbs. There I stood in complete darkness. The kitchen motion-activated night light had worn out. Finally expired. It made me realize that one day Bill and I will too. There will be no crumbs on the counter or artificial “sunshine” for one of us to complain about. Standing in darkness made me aware of how much I’ve depended on that tiny little kitchen light to cast shadows on the counter, allowing me to focus on a fault.

I concluded that shining my light is better than casting my shadow, so I didn’t mention his mess when he trotted into the kitchen that morning. Nor, did I mention it the next day. I cleaned without complaining. On the third day, he left no crumbs on the counter. It’s been five days and still no crumbs. I’m not mentioning it. We are both allowing our lights to shine. It’s been illuminating.

Each morning as I stand in the dimly lit kitchen waiting for my tea to brew, I offer a simple prayer: “Thank you God, for my health, my husband, our family and our home. I do know I am truly blessed.”

About this writer

  • Linda O’ConnellLinda O’Connell is a seasoned preschool teacher and award-winning freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri. Her prose and poetry have appeared in books, magazines and anthologies. As Linda waltzed through the decades, she discovered her age of elegance was in her forties, but she isn’t complaining. Life has been an adventure. Linda resides in the Midwest but her heart and soul hang out at the beach.

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53 Responses to “We Do”

  1. Claudia says:

    Perfect lesson we all need to remember. The older we get, the more we need to remember our timers are running while we are running down. It all goes so fast…glad you “sucked up” to the crumbs!

  2. Val says:

    He’s a keeper!

    My friend’s husband always leaves a single drip of ice cream on the counter. I don’t think she has ever brought it to his attention. I guess he’s allowed that little indiscretion, because he CLEANS the house on alternate days, per her chore schedule.

  3. Tracey Simpson says:

    Great story. Many people will be able to relate. Well written & a nice reminder for all marriages.

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      It really is the little things that matter in a marriage. Appreciation is the best gift you can give one another.

  4. Daisy says:

    Aw, what a wonderful story. I loved this, Linda. Very nicely done.

  5. Linda O'Connell says:

    Companionship is so important in a relationship, as well as appreciation.

  6. Linda–Your story made me laugh (the line about your dear, sweet husband clicking his nails like a bowl of cereal made me snort tea out of my nose) AND your story made me reflect–on how fortunate I am.

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely story.

  7. really nice, Linda, and a good reminder for me. i have a crumb leaver, too. im going to try letting my light shine. but not at 4 am.

  8. Linda – I giggled several times as I read the story. I could so relate with a 30+ year marriage. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story.

  9. Joy Stanberry says:

    Linda. I really enjoyed your story. Very amusing and I can relate to some of it.

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Joy, Thank you for stopping by. Anyone in a long term relationship has to learn to overlook some things.

  10. Appreciation and laughter. Nothing better for a marriage. Crumbs show life is happening in your house. (I remember when I married after a very unhappy and lonely few years as a single, I woke to some tiny hairs in the bathroom sink that weren’t mine, and I was suddenly so happy to know my life had someone in it for me to love. Silly but there it is.)

  11. Beth Hol.....brooke says:

    I LOVED this story. It’s sweet but not sappy. Thoughtful and funny and you are both blessed to have found each other!
    My friend’s husband kept leaving the cap off the toothpaste and she was exasperated. He started putting the cap on the keep her happy and then she asked him why he had stopped brushing his teeth! Let him make crumbs….
    You are a wonderfully versatile writer and capture the essence of things in short little glimpses of life that paint pictures in my head.

  12. Love this sweet story. It’s always the little things!

  13. Patk says:

    Beautiful story, Linda. May we all keep shining our light.

  14. I do so love this, Linda! You and Bill are much like me and the Beneficent Mr. Hall. Our grown kids wonder what we’re laughing about, but it doesn’t matter. We know–and that makes all the difference!

  15. Alice Muschany says:

    Linda, heartwarming story. I too know what it’s like to find a great man who mirrors your hopes and dreams in the little everyday things. My favorite line to my husband is, “Stay with me. I want to be alone.” Not that there aren’t times when I hold back from saying, “Can’t you find someplace to go? You’re like a piece of furniture!”

  16. Sylvia Forbes says:

    So nice to read a story about people who love each other, who care about each other, who like each other. Seems there is so much conflict in the world, so it is good to show others that it doesn’t have to be that way.

    Nice job!

  17. Linda O'Connell says:

    Sylvia, thank you for your comments. Love is so much more than what TV portrays and what the kids think.

  18. I never thought about the many applications of “I do” – love it! Your commitment and sense of humor through it all are an inspiration.

  19. Susan says:

    That was a very nice, heartfelt piece, Linda, just like always.

    You are a wonderful writer so I’d say you were multi-talented! Great pre-school teacher and great writer.

    Oh yeah, and a nice wife, too! Susan

  20. Linda O'Connell says:

    Susan, thank you so much for your kind words.

  21. Tammy says:

    What a beautiful, lyrical tribute!

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Tammy, it takes years to come to the realization that little things matter and shared laughter is one of the best. Thanks for your comments.

  22. I’m so grateful to God for all he’s blessed me with, too!

  23. Debora says:

    Very touching, Linda! My hubby’s most annoying habit for me is that he is always planning/talking about what task he needs to do next. The list never ends and I find it overwhelming. However…I too have taken pause when I’ve thought about what I’d do without him. Who’ll remove moss from the gutters, mow up fallen leaves, pressure wash the driveway, wash the cars, clean the garage, get the cars serviced, pay the taxes…and most important of all…who’ll hold my hand?

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Debora, my husband is a planner, too. Thank you for your comments. The end made me tear up, as that is how I feel, too.

  24. river says:

    This is one of the sweetest things I’ve read all day.
    People who “fit” and still show appreciation after all the years together.

    • Linda O'Connell says:

      Thank you, River for your comments. We were sitting on a beach early one morning and a woman said, “You two just GO together.” Nicest compliment.

  25. Jackie Wenzelburger says:

    I really enjoyed reading your story. It is heartwarming.

  26. Sweet story, and of course, a sweet couple.

  27. Linda O'Connell says:

    Thank you, Lynn. Don’t you just love Sasee Magazine essays?

  28. Oh Linda, this is one of your very best articles! I loved it. And I had to laugh at the crumbs on the counter part….YES, you are VERY lucky that’s the only messes Bill makes. MY husband DOES leave the cheese wrapper, squirts of mustard, almost empty bags of chips, dirty plates….You get the idea. Every time you see crumbs from now on…and any tiny “mess,”….please think of me and feel my pain! And again……I loved this!

  29. Linda O'Connell says:

    Thank you, Becky, I appreciate your comments.

  30. Myra says:

    OK, I had to laugh aloud at your retort to grandma. (Sidenote: I, too, talk to my favorite ‘kinfolk’ who reside among the stars.)

    Your mention of the night-light gave me goose-bumps – what a great correlation! I’m going to remember that the next time I go muttering about my own hubby’s silly messes.
    Love this post!

  31. Linda O'Connell says:

    Myra, yes, it is illuminating when you stop to think about how things could be. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  32. Dianna says:

    Linda, sorry I’m kind of late to the party with my comment, but thanks for the inspiring piece. As a mom with two kids who will soon say “I do” (six weeks apart!), I can only pray they will each have as happy a marriage as you have (and as I have, too!).

  33. Erika Hoffman says:

    Your story is easy to relate to for those of us married for a couple of decades or more! It’s little annoying habits of a partner that make us forget sometimes the gargantuan, meaningful reasons we love the person we’re with. I read an article recently that said the three things that attract someone to another are: looks, personality, and grooming. I’d have to add a fourth which tops all three: A GOOD SENSE of HUMOR! You and your husband obviously both possess that trait and you furthermore can even convey humor in writing. Not so easy to do!!!!!!

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