The Ups and the Downs of Marriage

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By Cate Drew
My husband Matt and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and when you hit the big 2-0, it’s natural to think to the highs and lows of the relationship. High PointsOur wedding, which took place in a resort town in the mountains. Everyone had a great time, especially one of Matt’s brothers, who took a very active interest in my younger sister. The downside:


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Sis and my new bro-in-law disappeared after the reception, prompting my dad to call the wedding suite at three in the morning looking for her. Uh, no, Dad, I’m pretty sure she’s not here . . .

The births of our children, Claire and Ben. Luckily, I had relatively quick labors. Unluckily, they were due to eyeball-popping labor pains. I found out that while my thighs are blubbery and my arms flabby, my uterus is one kick-ass muscle. I managed to deliver a basketball (Claire, at 8 pounds) and a watermelon (Ben was 9.2 pounds) in record time. The downside: I can’t laugh or sneeze with a full bladder.

The purchase of our house, which came after years of apartment dwelling. It’s perfect for us, and living in the country with trees, grass, and wild animals is great. The downside: you can’t call the super when something breaks. Cha-ching.

Our traditional family dinners. We make it a point to sit down and eat dinner together at least 6 nights out of 7. We talk and laugh, and we occasionally watch Ben squirt milk out of his nose, if the joke’s good enough. It gives us a chance to reconnect after a hectic day of school and work. The downside: whenever someone brings up Lee Harvey Oswald. Matt and I can talk sex, religion and politics, but when it comes to the Kennedy assassination (lone gunman? conspiracy?) tempers flare and our patience goes right out the sixth floor window of the Texas Schoolbook Depository, with the kids and dogs running for cover.

Low Points


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Our disaster-filled trip out to the Midwest in 1988, when I met Matt’s family for the first time. The weekend started with Matt getting arrested (don’t ask), continued with my contracting a stomach virus, and went downhill from there. At one point, I recall throwing up in my future sister-in-law’s shower because someone else was camped out on the toilet, felled by the same stomach bug.

The upside: I lost 6 pounds and charges against Matt were dropped.

The time Matt had his second heart attack and ended up in ICU alongside my dad, who was hospitalized with emphysema. I schlepped back and forth to the hospital with the two kids — Claire was 2, Ben was 5 months old. Roller skates would’ve come in handy. The upside: keeping calm in emergencies is not a problem.

Deaths in the family. As a couple, we’ve both lost parents, good friends, and cherished family members, and it’s hard to deal with those losses. The upside: we’ve made plans for when we kick. Matt wants me to rent a boat, complete with band and open bar, and spread his ashes in the ocean. I want the same party on the same boat with the same band, but I say, let the guests pay for their own booze.

Yes, our marriage has had ups and downs. Some of the downs have lasted a while – they’re troughs, really – but sooner or later, we’re riding another crest. The trick is to have the patience to wait it out.

The other trick? Some things are just not talked about. Like my flabby thighs, or Matt’s tendency to leave his dirty underwear all over the place, or the fact that I’m starting to snore, and Matt’s starting to wheeze.

And Mr. Oswald? Well, I know he acted alone (read the Warren Commission report, for cripe’s sake), but I hardly ever bring it up. Right, honey?

About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.

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