Happily Ever After

Being married … is hard!

We went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  It was funny to be the tween-er at the wedding, not quite as old as the parents of the happy couple but surely not as young as the couple themselves or their myriad of friends – sorority sisters, college mates, colleagues.  My Husband was the former boss of the bride, not a colleague exactly.  I was so very inclined to identify with these 30-somethings.  Shockingly none of them looked at me as a peer.  The band (the absolute best wedding band ever, hands down!) would start to play a song and people would hoot and holler and rush to the dance floor and I would think, do I know this one?  Michael Jackson and AC/DC were the ones that really got me going.  Yes, the band played both, as well as Taylor Swift and Otis Redding.  I told you, Best Wedding Band Ever!

How is it that one day you wake up and you are in your late 40s?  I know, I know, that’s not old (except to a 30-something).  But it is startling to realize you are no longer the age of the people getting married, in fact you are much closer to the age of the beautiful mother of the bride in her sparkling blue gown.  It’s like when my Little Sister found out a woman she works with went to the same college as our Big Sister.  “What year did you graduate?” was her immediate question.  Perhaps they knew each other?  Probably not when the answer is 2002.  She was in elementary school when my Big Sister was in college.  Gulp!

Anyway, back to marriage is hard … the wedding, the couple.  A wedding is not a marriage.  Advice to this young couple, blissfully happy on their wedding day?  Date Night and Go to Bed Angry.  (I got that second one from an article I read once about secrets to a successful marriage.  Another pearl of wisdom from that article was complain only to your mother-in-law about your husband’s bad behavior, never your own mother.  Your mother-in-law will forgive your husband, your mother never will.)

Taking the second piece of advice first.  The old axiom of Don’t Go to Bed Angry seems, frankly, stupid.  You are angry, annoyed, peeved, pissed off by your spouse.  It’s the end of the day.  Probably a stressful day or you wouldn’t be so angry, annoyed, peeved and pissed off.  You might have had maybe a glass or two of wine (remember, it’s been a stressful day).  Now is not the time to try to work through grievances.  Nobody is thinking rationally.  For crying out loud, go to sleep already!  I promise, whatever has you so worked up won’t seem half as bad in the morning.  And even if it does, you will be in a much better frame of mind to work through whatever issue after a good night’s sleep.

And Date Night, let’s not forget Date Night.  This is only about protecting time with that person you have promised to love and honor (and live with) for the rest of your life.  It doesn’t have to be a “date” and doesn’t have to happen at night.  I’ve had to remind myself of this recently.  My Husband and I had a particularly rough night after hosting a party Saturday (I went to bed angry).  My Husband admitted (the next morning) that he was jealous of the time and attention I was giving to other people.  Date Night!  We need to carve out and protect time that is only about the two of us.  After all, this is the guy I’m going to be left with when everyone else goes away.  He’s my person, I better keep up with what makes him tick.

When our Daughters were little we instituted Date Night.  We had wonderful babysitters (Eden! Angela! Mara!) who came once a week and allowed us to leave the putting of the girls to bed to them.  It didn’t matter if we did nothing, if we simply drove around in the car long enough to be sure the girls were asleep.  It was a touch stone, a way to remember each other, separate from being parents.  Funny thing was, when the girls got old enough to not need a babysitter anymore these “dates” became less frequent.  We needed the sitter coming to remind us to get out.  Now we have to put it into our iCalendars as a recurring event.

So, Date Night and Go to Bed Angry, hopefully not on the same night, but it has been known to happen, are the two keys to my 22 year plus happy marriage.  That and being flexible, and having a good sense of humor, and trying to ignore the butter knife covered in peanut butter left on the counter, and being forgiving, and recognizing that you are not always right, and having good sex on a regular basis, and realizing that it’s sometimes ok to HATE this person because after all you do totally LOVE this person.

Maybe I’m making this sound too simple.  It’s not.  As I said at the start of this, being married is hard.  My Husband says it’s like being a recovering alcoholic, one day at a time.  Another day down …

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Comfort food to help with the happily ever after …

Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Kale

One thick slice of white bread, crust removed
1/3 cup whole milk
3/4 pound ground beef
1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 pound ground veal
Half a sweet onion peeled and finely chopped
One egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Handful fresh parsley chopped
Whole nutmeg

4 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
Half a sweet onion peeled and chopped
2 cans whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil OR one stalk fresh basil

Two-three bunches of kale
3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped

Place the bread and milk into a small sauce pan and bring quickly to a boil.  Turn off the heat and smash the bread with a fork, creating a mush.  Allow to cool.  Combine the ground meats, onion, egg, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and parsley in a large bowl and mix together with your hands, careful not to over mix.  Mix in the bread mush and a tiny grating of whole nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper.  Grease a cook sheet with olive oil.  Roll the meat mixture into meatball sized balls and place on the cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a tomato sauce.  Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large sauce pan and add the garlic and onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.  Add the canned tomatoes breaking them apart with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the basil (dried or fresh) and season with salt and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  When the meatballs are done cooking add them to the sauce and continue to cook at a simmer for 20-30 more minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Pull the leaves from the thick stems of the kale discarding the particularly tough stems, chopping the thinner ones.  Flash boil the kale (30 seconds) and quickly drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.  Allow to fully drain.  Saute the chopped garlic in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the drained kale and toss in the garlicky oil for a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Put the kale into the bottom of a large serving bowl.  Top with the meatballs and tomato sauce.  Serve with passed grated Parmesan cheese.

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