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Yesterday was our 26th wedding anniversary. Sometimes birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and the like pass without much thought. Last year, we were a couple of weeks away from the biggest move of our life when our 25th rolled around. Even though it’s supposed to be a milestone anniversary, we barely took note in the daze of packing, selling our house, wrapping up accounts and loose ends, saying goodbye to friends. Thankfully, our two children graciously pulled together a gathering of friends and family to surprise us and help us celebrate.

This year was different. When I woke up yesterday I didn’t rush through my morning routine. Instead, I eased into the day thought about the incredible victory of 26 years of marriage, especially having started so young, and decided not to rush it. I called work to tell them I’d be in late and my husband and I went to breakfast together. I had fried green tomatoes with scramble eggs and ham, a tribute to our new southern home and in southern fashion we lingered and talked about our life together.

Were we where we wanted to be at this point in our lives? Not exactly. But were we happy? That was a mostly yes. Through all of life’s major events and transitions so far, including making a wholesale transition at mid-life, we have continued to evolve as individuals without losing who we are as a couple. That’s not easy to do. And it’s not without compromise. But tell me, how else it can happen? 

There are times when we say, “if we could go back…” But at the same time, after 26 years of doing life together there is such a depth of knowing someone that can’t be gained in a rush. And a greater comfort in granting each other more time and space to enjoy the things which differentiate us without losing time and space to be together doing things we both love. It takes years to experience and modify communication styles in order that the intent of a message actually matches the impact of chosen words in healthy ways. And the wisdom that comes after enough battles to know what’s really worth having a fight over is only gained with time. In retrospect, I wouldn’t want to go back. No matter how you play your cards, some of the richness of a mature marriage simply can’t be gained with different decisions. It just takes time. So we celebrated time, 26 years to be exact, all day. And today…the journey continues.