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Eleven Years

During Reader Request Month, Christina sent me this:

This is a question inspired by a wedding we were at last weekend: You and Gwen have been married almost 11 years now, and you’ve performed enough weddings that I suspect you’ve thought occasionally about how to articulate your views on love. How has your philosophy of marriage and / or your relationship developed in the time since you got married? Bonus points if it’s romantic.

Today seems like a good day to answer it. I suspect I won’t qualify for those bonus points, but here it goes.

Every relationship — romantic or otherwise — is a living, breathing, evolving thing. It’s a third entity, separate from but intertwined with the two people that make it up. A relationship isn’t just the two of you together. It’s the way you interact with each other the way the two of you interact with the world. To use a philosophy-geek term, the relationship supervenes on the two of you.

Caring for that co-created entity forces you to learn about how you and your partner are different. The behaviors you have in common you rarely talk about about, because you both just do them without thinking and without causing any friction. It’s the things that you do without thinking that do cause friction that you have to pay attention to. Gwen and I struggle with being an introvert-extrovert couple, for example. Our default behaviors, when it comes to interacting with other people, are often at cross-purposes with each other. When we got married eleven years ago, I didn’t understand what being a introvert meant. Of course, I didn’t understand what being extravert meant either; I just was one. We’ve learned a lot about each other and ourselves over the years, and that learning is critical to caring for any relationship.

I used to see relationships as transactional: I get this out of it, you get that out of it, albeit over an extended period of time. I’ve come to realize, however, that the healthiest, most profound relationships are transformational. Through the process of creating that third entity and interacting with it, we become different people than were before. And by my reckoning, better people.

So thank you for the last eleven years, sweetie. I love you. Let’s make the next eleven even more wonderful.


Fitness: Ran 2.5 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 281 words, 253 seven-day average, 255 average, 23982 total

Reader Comments (1)

Here's the paragraph I mentioned where I wrote something similar. :)

They always tell you that relationships take work, but what I see looking at our vows now is something come from the deeps all mysterious, like when you realize that the island you live on is actually a whale. The work you do on a relationship is more like feeding a living thing than like a pushing a cart along the road. A relationship isn't dead weight, I mean. It keeps moving on its own, and the illusion that you're the one responsible for getting it over bumps and around turns makes it seem like far too much work and gives you the mistaken impression that it's something you need to be trying to control.

July 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

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