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On the 9th of May Brenton and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, although we mark being together for 11 years more strongly. Our relationship still continues to grow, evolve, settle, change, as we ourselves do.

Here is one thing I think we got right. Very soon in our relationship we had a big bump. Something came up that neither of us knew how to deal with and we had a silent, sleepless and terrible night. The next morning I went about trying to fix what had gone wrong, and I did it with patience, gentleness and clarity. It was the first time I had gone about this in this way. In the past and in other relationships I would have exploded, been overwhelmed with rage, and fought with every tooth and nail, but I wanted so badly for this to have a positive outcome. I wanted us to come to a deep understanding and a place where things could be properly fixed.

We agreed that instead of drawing battle lines in the sand, and facing each other through life, we would stand together, side by side, looking out in the same direction, taking things on together. And this has meant our fights are rare. We hate fighting. Of course we do, but because they are so rare we are lost ships at sea, and have to find stiller waters so we can go back to our default position of love, support and communication.

When we got married we performed a little ritual called the Mexican knot as part of the ceremony. It is a rope in a figure eight. Each partner gets one circle of the rope around them and the symbolism is clear; we are joined (for eternity) yet also absolutely separate individuals.

We also had friends sing our favourite Bruce Springsteen love song as we came down the forest path, and the lyrics are our mantra, “Darling I’ll wait for you, and should I fall behind, wait for me.” I love this. When I think about its importance in the long term it makes such sense. We cannot predict how we will respond to all things on our life’s journey, nor who will take the lead, nor who might fall behind, but we will wait for each other, face forward together and it is both comforting and an extraordinary privilege.

[For the next post on Year 13 of Marriage let’s hear from Nate and Andrea Milheim]

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