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Real Marriage

Today is my 16th wedding anniversary.

As the date arrives each beautiful spring, I am grateful and even a little amused that, wow, we've made it another year.

I don't say that to imply there is much thought to not making it every year, but rather to point out I celebrate we haven't become part of the well-known statistic -- the 50% that doesn't make it. And we're also not part of the statistical group that lives miserably together on a daily basis. Amen for that.

I could spend my limited time here glowing about my wonderful husband, but I will spare you that.

I could spend some of the time telling you -- again -- what a stellar dad he is. But, let's spare that too.

We all know marriage isn't really always paper hearts and velvet gift boxes.

So, what to say of 16 years? What to say of a union we are sure some friends cast bets against?

Ha!

Not that there haven't been moments the bet-makers nearly cashed in. But, I personally revel in the fact we've gone through dark times and come out lighter the other side.

This is a hard post to write because I can't speak for my husband, but if I had to share my key to marital longevity it would be learning to keep my mouth shut more often than not, and the early realization that this marriage is a work-in-progress, a classroom with never-ending lessens and hard homework -- a place to learn not just about my partner, but to examine my own motives and reactions and change what needs to be changed. A place to get real.

I cringe when I hear girlfriends say they'd never forgive their husbands for trespasses A, B or C. Or, when I hear of the control they believe they have over their partners. I counsel: You're not always right and let go a little. I had to learn those lessons hard. And, goodness, trust you can weather whatever storm comes your way. The sweetness of joint victory can obliterate the taste of bitter battle.

Our rough time came many years before our daughter was born. We spent some hard months digging deep, cleaning out and re-building. So, luckily our child was spared, and is spared, drama and discord. Because we have worked hard, I think she will be able to look back on the home-life of her childhood and say her parents truly loved, liked and respected each other. I hope she says her parents as partners were real, in every sense of the word.

Of course, my hope as a mother is that Maria marry a prince who never upsets her. But, truth is, in marriage that may not be as much fun, soul-stretching or real.

And real is what we wish for.

This "Fruit of the Spirit Stick'' is a gift to my husband on our anniversary today. It will go outside, near the entrance to our home. It is available at www.bebofolkart.com.

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