Family Matters,  Life Lessons,  spilling my guts,  Super Dad

Nine years and still running strong…just like a Norge

holding up like a Norge

I’ve been lagging on posting my anniversary post for several days now. Mostly because I wanted that perfect photo to go with the post and since taking a portrait together didn’t work out, I had to think of something more creative. Leave it Toby to give me the inspiration for this shot.

It’s our fridge. Our Norge that I bought way back in 1996 with an old roommate. We bought it used. I’ve written about it before. It was an ugly mustard color but Toby and I painted it red. That was before we were married.

The other day, on our anniversary—the twenty-fifth to be exact, I commented to Toby that our refrigerator sure has held up a long time. We’ve had it for more than ten years and it’s only broken down once. He laughed and said something along the lines of how ancient it is, even older than our marriage. We got a good laugh out of that, thinking about how our marriage is still going strong after nine years just like a Norge.

I don’t know what it is about that name “Norge” that always cracks me up. It’s just so matter-of-fact and unapologetic. Like the name Marge or barge. It’s not glamourous at all but it’s good and sturdy like an old refrigerator built to last. Which is sort of like our marriage.


I can’t even believe it myself that we’ve lasted this long. It was rocky in the beginning. I expected a lot and was never happy. When I think back on it, I was a real pain in the neck. A whiney, bitchy, yucky person to be around. I complained all the time and was forever moping about how Toby didn’t hold up to my idea of what good husband should be. I never even thought about what would make a good wife. I was so immature. It’s a good thing I was a lot cuter back then than I am now because I don’t know why Toby would put up with me.

As time went on things got so much better. We talk about it a lot. We were so different back then, opposites really. It’s not that I’ve changed him (though I tried, believe me, I tried) or he’s changed me but we’ve both adapted to suit each other. I never saw it coming. It just happened.


I think having Baby Bug was the turning point for me. I know that is sad considering that we were married for seven years before she was born but it’s true. I was always looking for a way out before she came along. I always secretly thought I could do better on my own. But once we had a kid, I stopped looking at the cracks and started trying to fill them for her instead. I don’t want to bore you with the lovey dovey crap but changing my perspective like that was exactly what I needed to do to be happy.

famous rain pipe

Now I’m so thankful. Toby could have been a horrible guy. I was so blind when I chose him. (Do you see those shoes?!! And skinny jeans were not in style in 1999. But please ignore this parenthesis.) I went from having all my decisions made for me by my very close-knit family to wandering blindly by myself, having no clue what decision to make. It was a scary time back then. I think I stayed in the relationship so long because I didn’t know how to get out of it.

It would have been nice if I had a more active part in the decisions I made back then. I remember going to a counselor during the months before we were married and going through boxes and boxes of tissues as I cried rivers over whether or not I should get married. I really didn’t know what I was doing.

But now, in hind sight, I’m glad I was clueless. I might have turned Toby down if I had a clue. I might have passed him over because he didn’t have a solid career or a plan for the future. He didn’t have a savings account, he had years of debt. He wasn’t from the same religious background I was from. He came from a broken home… He was a bad choice on paper.

But maybe there was some part of me that recognized that he is a good guy because now it’s nine years later and he is a the best father and a wonderful husband. He has a good job and a solid grip on where our future is going. Every day I’m more and more thankful I did stay with him. I love him more and more every year that goes by.


I hope we last for ninety-nine more years.


  • Clownfish

    Congratulations! How wonderful is the bond that grows ever stronger as time goes on. I wish all the happiness to you both (& BB of course) as you travel down life’s path.

  • BeachMama

    Brenda that was beautiful. We don’t all admit that getting married isn’t all sugar and roses at the beginning, but hopefully we can all say we have had the same love and growth that you and Toby have had.

    Here’s to your Ninth Wedding Anniversary, CHEERS!!

    And Here’s to the next Ninety Nine…. ! CHEERS!

  • Genevieve

    What a wonderful post. While I’m not married (and it looks like I never will be!), it’s refreshing to read about the reality of thinking about getting married and the rockiness of the first few years. So many people make it seem like it’s all flowers and love and wonderful times!

    Congrats of finding the “one” and may you have many more years of happiness.

  • Mandy

    This is so sweet. My husband and I have been married for six short months and this gives me so much to look forward to and real hope for our future. Not that I doubt he’s a good husband but I think we’re both still trying to adjust to new roles and finding it a little more difficult than we imagined. Thank you so much for this!

    Congratulations and happy belated anniversary!

  • Angela

    This anniversary post is exactly what I needed today. (I love it when that happens.) Been married 3.5 years. It’s been hard and not at all how I imagined my marriage or husband or life would be. But we are holding on and going strong and working hard to fill in the cracks. Thank you for a wonderful post from your heart. Here’s to hoping and praying for a Norge marriage.
    Happy Anniversary!!

  • ~moe~

    Norge refrigerators are the BEST! My parents bought one when they got married in 1962. We just got rid of it 2 years ago – and it was still working! (we sold it to a lady down the street who uses it to hold beer in her garage) But it was great…a little frosty most of the time no matter how often we cleaned it out, but it was still great! I took a picture of the logo and had the picture on the the corner of the new fridge for ever (well until mom finally took it down).

    If you and Toby can be like a Norge, for certain you’ll last as long as one.

    Norge rules!


    I’m so touched by this entry – I felt compelled to leave a comment to thank you. I too have had my doubts about my marriage – at this point, I’m not sure if they were even warranted (we’ve been married a whole 1 year and 10 months) and sure, the doubts always came when we were facing adversity…but it’s so nice to hear that I’m not alone. It seems that people hate to admit weakness when it comes to their marriage, and perhaps, that can the be fault that leads to the downfall of so many. It just makes me feel a lot better knowing that someone out there didn’t feel all “ice cream and rainbows” about every day of her marriage and yet, she succeeded beyond belief! Congrats and happy anniversay – and thanks for sharing!

  • paula

    such a beautiful, moving post. we have been married just two months, but what you wrote really resonates with me…i want to be happy and norge-like forever.

  • Annabanana

    I could have written this word for word, well except the Norge bit.
    We are still a few years behind you in the marriage department but our 9th year together is coming up.
    I had the same fears and tissue dates and family decisions and wandering aimlessly, yadda, yadda….
    Love you!

    Oh, and happy anniversary!

  • (another) bethany

    happy anniversary brenda and toby! we’ll be 8 years next week, and boy I can relate :). clueless, needy, bitchy, all of it … and the ‘bad on paper’ part :). here’s to the next 99! thanks for being so real.

  • josephine

    Thank you everybody! I was nervous to write this (As of this comment, Toby still has not read it. Let’s hope he doesn’t kill me.) but now I’m glad I did.

  • bethany actually

    Aw, Brenda…this post actually brought tears to my eyes, in a good way. :-)

    I’m jealous of your honeymoon! Twelve years of marriage, and we have yet to actually *go* on a honeymoon. (I don’t count driving from Omaha to San Diego in three days right after we were married as a honeymoon, even though we did stop and see the Grand Canyon, even though Troy keeps trying to convince me to do so!)

  • Anonymous

    How wonderful!
    “Norge” is our name on our country, which you call “Norway” and the germans call “Norwegen”, – and yes, it is the way up north and rather cold here at times. Like inside a refrigerator!
    We have a saying that goes “util Dover ( a mountain chain) falls”, – and I wish for your marriage to be like that: as long as the mountains stands, may your marriage be as tall and solid.

  • lynne

    Amazing post. I think this is what marriage is about learning about each other, loving each other for what we are and adapting through the years to whatever life throws at us. I was totally confused for all sorts of reasons before I got married, I realise now for trivial things. I shiver that I could have made a wrong descision that could have wrecked my life. I adore my husband and am thankful for so many reasons.

    I’m toasting your marriage with my morning cup of coffee, I wish you many, many, many, many more years of happiness :)

  • leslie

    thank you saj! your post is a perfect reminder…, when things are just so not nice!! i can totally relate to what you’ve said! well-actually you described me perfectly….and the situation i’m in at the moment….
    thanks again!

  • Susan

    I love this post. I think this post slapped me right in the face and helped me realize that I am doing the same thing you did at the beginning of marriage. I’m constantly wanting the “perfect” husband and not realizing how to be the wife I should be in the relationship.
    This post could totally help many young marrieds because I know a lot of us go into marriage this same way. Happy Anniversary to you both!

  • gretchen w.

    This was lovely to read. I especially liked the line about filling in the cracks instead of looking at them. Your honesty is always so refreshing. Happy anniversary!

  • lynne

    Regarding the photo of you and Toby sitting on the rocks – the grand houses in the background look so typically of a fashionable sea resort of the late Victorian era. In fact there are two very similar mansions situated right on Clapham common. The sepia tone helps.

    Ok I missed out on the skinny highrise to the left.

  • Heidi

    Happy Anniversary! I’m so happy you wrote this post. I don’t think enough people talk about what it takes to make a happy marriage. How there are real growing pains at first and then over time, if you are one of the very lucky ones, an amazing bond.

    Here’s to the future and for your love to keep growing!!

  • Amanda Brown

    This was amazing, Brenda. I love hearing about real relationships…the imperfections and trials and bumps along the way, and seeing that people can really make it and keep a bond of love strong through it all. So often it’s easy to think that if things aren’t perfect, we have the right to run, but this post is a great reminder that marriage is worth sticking around for, worth fighting for. Happy Anniversary!

  • beyond

    happy anniversary!
    i love this post. from the outside marriages often seem easy, but they really aren’t. mine included. but they are worth fighting for. i always think the greater the love, the more dreadful the misunderstandings. why would i even bother disagreeing if i didn’t care?( the thing is that he’s not perfect. and neither am i.)

  • Sam

    Happy Anniversary, y’all! It’s good to hear an honest take on marriage – I do tend to paint things quite rosy, myself, but any good relationship (I believe) has rough spots and takes work. Especially on YOURSELF! :) Hooray for you two lovebirds!

  • Red Lotus Mama

    It is amazing how some people jump into a marriage and some people are so cautious about it. But, the outcome never ends the way we expect it to. The cautious ones could still end while the hasty ones could last forever … and vice versa. You and Toby are one of the lucky ones. The differences you guys had ended up bring out the best in both of you. That makes a good marriage. A huge congratulations to you and Toby! May your marriage (and the NORGE) have many many more years of happiness together.

  • ninabi

    Happy anniversary to you! May you have many, many more to celebrate.
    SAJ, I love your creative style. That red fridge is clever.

    We’re closing in our 25th anniversary. I look back on how much we’ve changed and how much fun it is to just look at the other person and know, really know, what they are thinking. We can keep our crazy comments to ourselves out in public, with just a shared eye twinkling.

    Enjoy these happy years, the two of you, with BB….