Yes, Dear: A Reflection on 14 Years of Marriage

It usually happens at weddings when the loud and exuberant DJ walks over to the longest married couple in the room and asks the question: What does it take to stay married for as long as you two have? The older man will pause, look around the room and say, “Two words: Yes, dear.” Of course his comedic timing is perfect, and the room erupts with laughter.

Over and over again when talking to older married couples this notion of saying “yes, dear” comes up, and for the longest time I would have suggested that this was mere comedic jest. This year, after fourteen years of marriage, the full impact of those words finally hit me. I realized something I had never thought of before, and it instantly caused me to revisit the wisdom of those moments. What I realized is this:

When you say “yes” to your spouse, you are saying yes to togetherness. When you say “yes” to your spouse you are saying “yes” to the team.

The reality is that you and your spouse are incredibly different people. You probably don’t like to do the same thing, you probably don’t even like to do it the same way. Heck, Karen and I are different on most of the things that we find enjoyable. She loves to do things like Legos and Sudoku, I prefer to golf or write. We are just very different people. We’ve been married for fourteen years and we still don’t have a ton of things in common.

For the longest time I used to think that it meant we weren’t a good couple. I thought it meant that we should find a way to close the gap of our differences and find something that we love to do together. Then, just this past week, I realized something: We both say “yes.”

We both say “yes” to doing things out of our comfort zone for the other person.  We both say “yes” to our next big adventure. Saying something like “yes, dear” sounds subservient, but maybe the better perspective is that when we say “yes” to our spouse what we are really doing is saying is, “You are important, and I’m with you.”

This week Karen and I are on an anniversary trip, having an epic adventure, spending time together, enjoying what it means to be married. When I think of how it happened, how our marriage got stronger, it really comes down to one thing: She said “yes.” Yes, I’ll go with you; yes, that is a great idea; yes, we can make that work.

Maybe those married couples at weddings had far more wisdom than I gave them credit for, and maybe they learned what I’m learning: Saying “yes, dear” changes everything