Rudey's Room

10 Things I Hold True after 10 Years of Marriage


“Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery


We were driving down Route 1 when the gas light popped on – 25 miles ’til empty.


It was then we both remembered the sign we saw in Big Sur many, many miles ago: Next gas station X (??) miles.


Neither of us could recall the exact number. We were so eager to chill in Big Sur we ignored it. We were so set to get off the grid that we failed to pay attention to the fuel needs of our road trip on Route 1. But, as it turns out, Big Sur was the last chance to fill up between the miles and miles of twists and turns and high elevation where land meet sea.

In retrospect, we probably should have heeded the sign in Big Sur, and gotten gas here:




But we didn’t, so we hashed out what we could do if we hit empty – hitchhike to the next gas station (how many miles is it?), siphon gas off a friendly hippie, or go empty and get stranded.

I watched his hands grip the wheel tighter as the zigzags relentlessly came.

We could have started bickering, but instead we were so sunk into our 10-year anniversary celebration and so at the mercy of our gas tank, I put on this …




I mean, why not?

I admit I had to shake off mental visuals – flying off the side of the mountain into a ravine as our brakes failed. I toggled between telling myself we have enough gas to get to the next stop – I think I can. I think I can. Get us there! Please, please, please! and wondering Why does the gauge say 15 miles one minute and 20 the next?

Finally, a beacon in Gorda … ahhhhhhh (cue the mystical light):




The price pushed $6 a gallon, but here’s my Visa, take what you will. We made it!




We made it to Gorda, and we “made it” 10 years married, as well.

Ready for a love fest?

Here are 10 Things I Hold True after 10 Years of Marriage:

We Change. It’s not best practice to enter a relationship expecting someone to change. You know how it starts: “He just needs a little work. I’ll help him change.” You also know it ends: He doesn’t change in the way you want. In reality, we all change – sometimes for others, but mostly we change because change is life. We develop at different rates and in different ways, but we all change. Hopefully we grow, but either way, we change. Change is part of nature. Change is inevitable. It’s unnatural, scary even, to stay fixed. Biologically, we replace all of our cells every seven years with new ones. Why should you fear change or at least hope for no change? Through change, we can grow, connect, renew.

We Bend. There is little room for scorekeeping in a marriage. It’s so easy to keep track of who is doing more (of course you always think it’s you!), but tit for tat does not make for a happy marriage. There is rarely 50-50 in a marriage at all times. It’s a seesaw because sometimes you can carry and sometimes you need to be carried. Your mom gave you a gem when you were five and she was right – pick your battles. Before you get angry, it pays to ask yourself: “What am I worried about?” or “What do I need?” Try this and ask yourself this. Or don’t, and do this:

We Fight. Not a lot, but we certainly disagree. We argue. We are opinionated and both have strong personalities. I’ve called him a jerk before. And meant it … at the moment. When I oversaturate, I become overwhelmed. This is when I have a tendency to project my emotions and frustrations. This is usually when a tiff erupts. But through disagreeing, you learn and you share, bend, and connect. You apologize. You have follow up conversations and there is a give and take of what you want and what you need. I grew up with the memo that people in happy marriages don’t fight, but it’s off the mark. We fight, and we are happy.

We Share. The good and the ugly. The mundane and the life altering. The annoying and the neurotic. The television: Jimmy Fallon openers, bands, Modern Family, Nova, and Homeland binges. A cup of coffee on our deck and stolen glances at a party. He shares his French fries and I share the covers (most of the time!).

We Connect. Gazing at the Pacific Ocean on Route 1, it hit me – we’re still getting to know each other. After 10 years of marriage and 5 years of dating (15 years!), we are still getting to know each other. Peace came over me and I smiled, contented. This is an interesting article on what the author calls the bird-bid. Do you turn away or engage when your partner invites you in?

We Laugh. The best medicine is to crack a joke. Laughter brings you close together, dropping blood pressure as it eases the tension and stress. Our inside jokes run deep and sometimes a mere word sends us into a laugh. Recently it’s our 4-year-olds turn of phrases. She’s a wordsmith in her own right. One night this week, she put on her pajama top with monkey bottoms and leg warms. She strolled into the living room saying, “How do you like my Warm Leggers?”

We Parent.Together. We aim to be a united front. Of course, our girls try to divide us, Daddy said I could have an Oreo; Mommy said we could have a movie night tonight. But, we mostly stick together, even if we disagree with each others’ method. Disaccord is usually said with a look, meaning let’s chat later. Parenting with my husband is such a treat. He is up for connections and adventures. I am impressed with him as a dad:


I walked into this scene one winter afternoon after I got home from school:



We date. Our Pre-Cana marriage counselors advised us to remember that our family needed to start and end with us. You’ve been told to hold sacred the date night. We average once a month with a babysitter. What about you? We try, but we get lazy about date night. It’s expensive and after a work week, we love being at home en famillle. But when we we push forward and get out, I’m grateful. Most of the time we head out together, but it’s also a thrill to meet out. It’s sexy to spot your partner from the distance in a restaurant or bar and know they are with you. Even though we don’t hit the town regularly ($15/hour for a babysitter adds up), we slow down together most weekends. Most Saturdays, we cook dinner and chat/listen to music over a few drinks after the girls are tucked in their beds.

We explore. We started out traveling together, as a mobile-marketing team driving the Hershey Kissmobile across the country for five months. During our courting days, we worked together 24/7, checking out new places. And we still are. Often it’s Chicago-based, but we strike out on a trip when we can – as a family and as a couple. Travel is in my soul.

We are. We are in this thing called Life together. I can say there is no one on earth I would rather be with. This is a marathon, not a sprint.




P.S. Here’s where it all started.

Hershey Kissmobile

9 Responses to “10 Things I Hold True after 10 Years of Marriage”

  1. stephanie todd

    Can I start a love fest for YOU? I love you! I love reading your posts. You have a true joyeux de vivre. I think we would connect well as parents too. I love that our husbands are friends, but if we lived closer…I’d love to hang out and chat and parent and connect too. You are always right on the mark.

  2. Aunt Marilyn Bartkowiak

    One of the many things Uncle Walt & me learned on our 57 year journey in our Sacrament, is the many times we ventured into new places with career moves, in our early marriage we looked at it myopicly. We looked at it as a step up in Walt’s career. As we got a little older & wiser, we discovered it was God who created new opportunities for us to grow. Wonderful opportunities that we cherish.

  3. gracekelle

    Thats for this refreshing view of marriage. I’m in a committed long term relationship and will be married one day…i hope to remember this in those days!

  4. whitneyfleming

    Love that we share the same philosophy, have girls, and apparently live in/around Chicago (I’m in the Western Burbs). Thanks for connecting and I look forward to reading more. I’m a new subscriber! 🙂

  5. Tom Bowman

    Hi, my name is Tom Bowman. While working at Hershey I created the Kissmobile more than 20 years ago and it is something I am really proud of….especially when I reflect back on all the smiles it brought to peoples faces and the good it helped do for Children’s Hospitals. Every few years I end up googling “kissmobile” just to see what I find. In doing this tonight I ran across your post about the 10 things you learned in marriage. That was a really nice post and I can’t tell you how it warmed my heart to realize I had some small part in bringing you together and making it all possible. Hope you had some good times with the Kissmobile and have many more happy years of marriage together! Tom

    • Rudey's Room

      Thanks Tom! It’s so great you found this. My husband and I have such wonderful memories of driving the Kissmobile. And I remember the video and seeing you in it. Thanks for making the car that we got to drive for so many miles and create wonderful memories.


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