Like any living being I know aged 21 years, our marriage has gone through typical growing pains. It has experienced the first years of learning to talk and walk and feed itself. Like a toddler, it had to learn the boundaries of You and I, then the boundaries of We. It went from gross motor skills to fine-tuning the rhythm of life shared with someone else.
It assumed bogus autonomy around age 5, when it acted like all the things of life had already been lived and there was nothing new to learn. It got a little bossy-pants attitude that was quickly squelched in year 8 with the arrival of a child. Parenting stripped away the "ME" parts of marriage and replaced it with "WE" as both husband and wife realized the only way they'd make it out of parenting alive was by leaning on each other.
By age 9 almost all of the husband's immediate in-laws had been wiped out, leaving the wife shipwrecked. The marriage was the life preserver that kept her afloat during the worst Perfect Storm.
The wife learned true dependence in the marriage's early adolescent years, since year 10 marked the beginning of her stay-at-home career. Most 10-year-olds have learned and earned enough trust in ten years to spread their wings and test their flight just ever so slightly. This was true for the marriage, too. Both partners felt able and safe enough to entrust their futures to each other. He trusted her with the raising of their children and she trusted him as provider of their livelihood. The marriage nestled in safety as a second hatchling was added to their nest in the 12th year.
Most new teens experience a bit of upheaval when 13 hits, and the marriage was no exception. Year 13 marked a medical diagnosis and a spiritual awakening that continued into year 14 and beyond. That awakening kept blossoming in the 16th year and culminated in a father/daughter baptism.
The late teen years involved a new stage as the wife worked outside the home and the marriage had newly adjusted boundaries involving lots of solo parenting to accommodate weekend work shifts.
Balance was difficult and by the end of the second decade in the life of the marriage, changing job titles helped the marriage "find itself" as all early 20-somethings are wont to do.
You'd think by age 21, the marriage would have itself all figured out. It would know its likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, potholes and speed bumps to avoid and answers to pesky questions like "Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?"
Yes, some of those things are clarified in a way they've never been before. But some of them are murkier than ever before because the two people in custody of the marriage are living and breathing beings too.
But one thing is certain. There is only ONE answer to the question, "Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?"
TOGETHER. It's as simple as that.
Please raise a toast to 21 years of saying "I do" and "Yes" and "What do YOU think?" and "Can we..." and "What if..." and "I'm sorry" and a lifetime of "I love yous."
Dan, I love being your wife. During the triumphs and the tragedies, whether we're laughing or irritating the crap out of each other: I love you and I love us. Our marriage is worth fighting for, and I love having you by my side in the trenches.
Thank you for teaching me the value of going where the wind blows us and being open to adventures. You make every one of our adventures better! Happy 21st anniversary.